March 14, 2017–The New Jersey Wireless Association (NJWA) says the FCC should clarify eligible expenditures and the definition of next-generation 911 (NG-911) services in an effort to address state diversion of 911 surcharges for other purposes. In reply comments filed yesterday in PS docket 09-14 in response to the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau’s latest report on the diversion of 911 funds for other public safety and non-public safety purposes, (TRDaily, Jan. 13), NJWA said it “recommends again to the Commission, in agreement with Washington State, APCO and in support of Commissioner [Mike] O’Rielly’s comments, that clarification of eligible expenditures and definition of NG911 services would provide guidance to not only the states of New Jersey and Washington, but other repeat offending states. This clarification, definition and guidance will ultimately help the nationwide 911 community implement the technologies as appropriately envisioned by Congress under the ‘New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008’ (emphasis added).”
“As the Commission noted in its Eighth Annual Report to Congress, the State of New Jersey has once again, diverted 911 fees. This year again, the State of New Jersey has increased its fee diversion practice over last year’s; an obvious step in the wrong direction. Diversion of 89.9% of the 911 Trust Fund’s expenditures were appropriated to offset other operating budget items,” the filing said. “NJWA has consistently noted these operating expenditures were inconsistent with the spirit and intent of the NET911 Improvement Act of 2008. We believe the spirit and intent of the Act was captured very clearly in the name given to it by Congress; ‘New and Emerging Technologies . . . ‘ Specifically, the Act and its context is geared toward the implementation and operation of 911 networks and call processing. Further, under the Act, the continued reference is to ‘Emergency Communications’ not specifically including other emergency services or operating budgets.
“Upon review of comments filed this year by the Washington State E911 Coordination Office, we note that the State of Washington is in a similar situation to that of the State of New Jersey. Washington does not agree with fees which are classified as ‘diverted’, as these fees have been used for ‘other public safety purposes.’ NJWA has filed Reply Comments beginning with the FCC NET911 2013 proceeding, which continue to highlight issues concerning the prioritization and the administration of expenditures from the NJ 911 Trust Fund, none of which have been remedied. We therefore agree with Washington State in its recommendation to the Commission, when requesting clarification, in an effort to help states better manage collected fees under this federal law,” NJWA said. “In fact, NJWA had suggested this same recommendation in its 2014 filing. Additionally, NJWA notes the comments of APCO in this regard.
In its comments, APCO specifically suggests “the Commission should clearly define NG9-1-1 as part of the information collected on NG9-1-1 expenditures.” APCO further suggests that NG9-1-1 should be defined as end-to-end in order for future multimedia technologies to allow information to ultimately flow from the caller to the first responder. NJWA agrees with APCO in that any definition or clarification should include end-to-end IP connectivity.” – Paul Kirby, email@example.com