FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly today asked four states and three territories to explain why they did not respond to the FCC’s most recent effort to gather data about 911 deployment, including diversions of 911 fees and surcharges.
In a letter to the governors of New York, Oklahoma, Missouri, Montana, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam, Mr. O’Rielly said, “Inexplicably, in many instances, officials under your leadership failed to respond to our last request for such information. At the very least, given the importance of this information, you should have been aware of the impending failure to respond. This suggests that addressing your 9-1-1 system or NG 9-1-1 capabilities is not as high of a priority for your state or territory as it should be. It is beyond disappointing, as it is hard to imagine what could be more important to the lives and well-being of your residents than a well-functioning 9-1-1 system.”
Mr. O’Rielly continued that “many of your states and territories have seen the enormous benefits of and need for 9-1-1 services over the years because of terrorist-related activities and natural weather events, including hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires. Further, since your states and territories have either been a self-admitted diverter of 9-1-1 fees in the past or guilty of failing to respond to a previous inquiry, it can only be assumed that your state or territory diverted 9-1-1 fees for 2016. Neither of these outcomes is appropriate or acceptable.”
Mr. O’Rielly urged each governor to “remedy your failure to respond to the Commission’s inquiry on 9-1-1 fee diversion.” He also asked them to explain (1) why their state or territory did not respond to the FCC’s inquiry, (2) what steps they have taken to rectify the situation, and (3) whether their state or territory diverts 911 fees for other purposes and, if so, whether they did so in 2016, how much they diverted, and for what purposes.
Six states diverted 911 funds for other purposes in 2016, according to an annual report released by the FCC earlier this month (TR Daily, Feb. 7). The total amount diverted by reporting jurisdictions was $128.9 million, or about 5% of the total collected in 911/enhanced 911 fees, the report said.
The report, the ninth annual document to Congress on fee diversions, said that the following states diverted 911 fees for other purposes: New Jersey, West Virginia, Illinois, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and New York.
New York was the only one of the six diverting states that did not submit a report to the FCC for the report the agency released this month. But the Commission said that “sufficient public record information exists to support a finding that New York diverted funds for non-public safety uses.” —Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org