House Appropriators OK $1.1B for DHS Cyber Programs

Legislation that would provide $1.1 billion for cybersecurity programs at the Department of Homeland Security was approved today by the House Appropriations Committee by a vote of 29-22.  Democrats opposed the bill because it contains $5 billion for “physical barriers and associated technology” on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, which they say is unnecessary.

The DHS appropriations bill for fiscal year 2019 would allow DHS to spend $1.1 billion “to help secure civilian (dot-gov) networks and to detect and prevent cyber attacks and foreign espionage,” the committee said. “Funds are also included to enhance and modernize emergency communications capabilities and to continue the modernization of the biometric identity management.”

The $1.1 billion is part of $1.9 billion for DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate. The bill would provide $2.2 billion for the Secret Service, an increase of $160.7 million above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level, and would include more money than DHS requested for cyber crime investigations by the Secret Service.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster response and recovery efforts would receive $7.2 billion, and $3.1 billion would be provided for FEMA grant programs, including $538 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program — an increase of $31 million above fiscal year 2018 — and $661 million for the Urban Area Security Initiative — an increase of $31 million above fiscal year 2018. — Tom Leithauser,

Courtesy TRDaily

AFCEA Reports: DHS Bolsters Social Media Influence With a Twist, July 1, 2018, by George Seffers

A first-responder working group is poised to grow. While many government organizations are seeking to expand their social media influence, one social media group is expanding its influence within government.

The Social Media Working Group for Emergency Services and Disaster Management operates as a subcommittee under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’) Science and Technology Advisory Committee, but it is on its way to becoming a full-fledged federal advisory committee.

Such committees help shape public policy by providing objective advice on an array of issues, including space exploration and stem cell research. Hundreds of advisory committees perform peer reviews of scientific research; offer recommendations on policy matters; identify long-range concerns; and evaluate grant proposals, among other functions, explains a 2004 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

“Once we become an advisory committee, the membership at the federal level will broaden to some degree. It will include many more components of DHS and probably even go a little outside of DHS to include other federal agencies as well,” says Denis Gusty, a program manager in the department’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T). “The mission will stay the same, but the membership will broaden a bit. I think it does give us a little more influence.”

Gusty cannot estimate when the transition to a full committee will be complete, but he indicates that such an evolution takes a great deal of work. “I don’t have an exact date. We’re hoping very soon, but there’s still some work left to go through,” he offers.

The working group includes federal, tribal, territorial, state and local responders from across the country who are subject matter experts. It provides guidance to the emergency preparedness and response community on the use of social media before, during and after disasters, whether natural or man-made, including terrorist attacks. “Our purpose is to provide a resource for first responders for how to best utilize social media in their day-to-day activities,” Gusty explains.

Hemant Purohit, assistant professor in the information sciences and technology department of George Mason University, has participated formally with the working group for about two years, informally even longer. Purohit touts the group’s ability to bring together emergency response workers and researchers to develop solutions with first-responder input rather than responders being blindsided by potentially unfamiliar technologies. “We need champions within the practitioner community willing to understand the technology. More and more practitioners are joining, and they’re seeing the value of understanding how the technologies work,” Purohit says.

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AFCEA reports: NIST Takes Interoperability to New Heights, By Kimberly Underwood, July 1, 2018

Agency researchers are working to improve communications technology for first responders.

Amid broad federal, state and local efforts to improve public safety communications, the National Institute of Standards and Technology is leading research to establish interoperability among diverse government organizations that aid the public when it is most in peril. The agency’s goal is for legacy systems and new mobile technologies to exchange vital voice and data communications in a crisis.

The horrific attacks on 9/11 quickly illuminated the need for greater interoperability in communications among first responders. Since then, the requirement to share information and communicate effectively via radio during natural disasters, fires, crimes or catastrophes has only increased for police officers, firefighters and other public safety personnel.

Acting on recommendations from the 9/11 Commission, Congress passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 to establish the First Responder Network Authority, known as FirstNet. The law provided $7 billion and 20 megahertz of electromagnetic spectrum for the public-private partnership development of a nationwide first-responder broadband network. Last year, FirstNet awarded a 25-year, $6.5 billion contract to AT&T to build, operate and maintain the high-speed network. Section 6303 of the law also provided the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) with $300 million through 2022 to support the transition to broadband and advance public safety communication technologies to operate on the new network.

The Public Safety Communications Research Division (PSCR), part of NIST’s Communications Technology Laboratory (CLT), is overseeing the related research and development (R&D) and programs as well developing corresponding requirements and standards used by 60,000 agencies and 5 million first responders, according to the laboratory. In addition, the PSCR conducts testing and evaluations, executes security research, and performs modeling and simulation.

While FirstNet received its congressional funding immediately through the law’s borrowing authority, NIST had to wait until the proceeds came in from the government’s spectrum auctions.

That level of windfall required careful planning, explains Dereck Orr, PSCR division chief, NIST. “Even though we didn’t have the money in 2012, we knew we needed to start planning for the day that we got it,” Orr says. At a 2013 summit of public safety, industry, academia and federal stakeholders and partner FirstNet, NIST identified several focus areas for the PSCR, “where we would use this once-in-a-lifetime injection of funding,” he says. “It is not only about the research that we are doing in-house. We are also putting out a lot of money in grants. So more than half of that [$300 million in congressional] money is going to outside partners through grants, cooperative agreements, prize challenges.”

The focus areas include developing location-based services; transitioning land mobile radio (LMR) to Long Term Evolution (LTE) devices; and developing mission-critical voice capabilities for LTE, user interface and user experience technologies, and data analytics. Two additional programmatic areas, security and resiliency, cut across all the focus areas. “We have to look at security concerns,” Orr emphasizes.

For the first round of research, the laboratory awarded $38.5 million last year to 33 entities under NIST’s Public Safety Innovation Accelerator Program. The first round of funding covers all focus areas except user interface and user experience research; last month the laboratory awarded grants for that research, Orr says.

For one of the main focus areas, the PSCR is helping to usher in the use of LTE radio devices from LMR devices—in operation since the 1920s. And for the time that the two radio technologies coexist, officials will make sure that the radios are interoperable. “So if someone shows up on the scene with just an LMR radio, they can talk to someone who shows up with a FirstNet radio,” Orr says.

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Committee OKs Bill to Codify DHS’s CDM Program

Legislation that would authorize and codify efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to deploy a network security system known as continuous diagnostics and mitigation (CDM) today cleared the House Homeland Security Committee.

The Advancing Cybersecurity Diagnostics and Mitigation Act (HR 6443), which was offered by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R., Texas), was approved by unanimous consent.  The bill is designed to encourage DHS to move quickly on CDM deployment and to guide the program’s implementation.

A fully deployed CDM system would enable DHS to keep watch over civilian agencies’ networks and identify threats as they arise.  DHS has completed the first implementation phase and is working on buying the components and services needed for the next phase.

“It is DHS’s CDM program that will help federal agencies and the whole of the federal government understand the threats they face and the risks vulnerabilities pose in real time,” Rep. Ratcliffe said at today’s markup.

The committee also approved the Securing the Homeland Security Supply Chain Act (HR 6430), which would authorize the DHS secretary to address threats to the department’s supply chain. —Tom Leithauser,


DHS Emergency Services Sector Webinar – Register Today

DHS Emergency Services Sector

presents a webinar on the 

DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD)

Office for Bombing Prevention.

In this webinar, the DHS Office of Bombing Prevention (OBP) will give an overview of OBP programs and information sharing efforts that support first responders.

Webinar Date: July 26, 2018, 1-2 pm Eastern

Webinar Registration:

On July 26, the National Information Sharing Consortium will be hosting a webinar with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Emergency Services Sector-Specific Agency (ESS) on the DHS National Programs & Protection Directorate (NPPD) Office of Bombing Prevention (OBP). The webinar will describe the full spectrum of products, services, and offerings from the DHS OBP to include Counter-IED (C-IED) information sharing through the Technical Resource for Incident Prevention (TRIPwire), OBP’s extensive C-IED training and solutions program, as well as OBP’s C-IED Capability Assessment and Planning to include the National Counter-IED Capabilities Analysis Database (NCCAD) and Multi-Jurisdiction IED Security Planning (MJIEDSP) Program.

The DHS ESS webinar is the twelfth webinar in the NISC’s Mission-Focused Job Aids Webinar Series that will review tools, techniques, and standard operating procedures that NISC partners in the homeland security, emergency management, public safety, first responder, and healthcare preparedness communities use to facilitate and manage information sharing. For more information about the webinars series and the NISC, visit the NISC website at To become a member of the NISC, click hereto join, membership is free for all users!


Sean McSpaden |Executive Director | National Information Sharing Consortium

David Williamson | Counter-IED Training and Solutions Section Chief |Office for Bombing Prevention |Department of Homeland Security | National Protection & Programs Directorate

Important Links

The NISC’s Mission

We bring together data owners, custodians, and users from all public safety fields and all sectors to leverage efforts to improve information sharing. We aim to help save lives, better protect property, and build a safer, more secure nation.

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, July 19, 2018

FirstNet Potpourri

The first item of interest for FirstNet and its rural customers should be the progress on H.R. 3994. If passed by Congress and signed into law, this bill will provide a new government oversight organization that will hopefully establish a pool of all existing grants and low-cost broadband loans being offered by government agencies including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA, Broadband USA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and others. A few weeks ago I indicated that FirstNet should be an active participant in this new agency or whatever they decide to call it. I suggested that this agency should be structured like the FirstNet Authority, which is an Independent entity with its own board of directors and can work on public/private partnerships. This has worked well for FirstNet and has enabled it to move forward somewhat faster than a typical government entity.

Further, I think this organization should only hire people experienced in broadband deployments (fiber, microwave, and various forms of wireless) and who understand the economics of engineering and building out successful broadband systems. They should also understand that a grant to simply build a network without any follow-on to keep it running (maintenance, insurance, leases, power, etc.) is a waste of time. While AT&T is required to build out FirstNet in rural areas, it is also charged with maintaining, upgrading, and even expanding it over the course of the next 25 years.

H.R. 3994 was moved out of the sub-committee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to the full committee on June 13, 2018. On July 12, 2018, which is lightening fast for committee action, it was ordered by a voice vote of the full committee to be reported. This means it will now go the entire House for a vote. If it is passed and sent to the Senate, it too, will hopefully pass the bill in record time. Then instead of having various agencies with their different grants, deadlines, and guidelines, and some agencies favoring fiber-only solutions while some understand the last mile is best served by wireless, everyone will be under one roof run by people who live and breathe broadband. The organization will understand that the FirstNet requirement for rural broadband build-out provides many opportunities for additional broadband sites and services to be coordinated, combined, or built to interface with FirstNet (Built by AT&T).

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From the FCC Daily Digest, July 17, 2018

PRISMVIEW, LLC ORDER AND CONSENT DECREE. Resolves an investigation into whether Prismview, LLC marketed LED signs used in digital billboards and other commercial and industrial applications, in violation of the Commission’s equipment marketing rules. Action by: Deputy Chief, Enforcement Bureau. Adopted: 2018-07-17 by Order/Consent Decree. (DA No. 18-572). EB. DA-18-572A1.pdf DA-18-572A1.txt

YAHAM LED USA, INC., ORDER AND CONSENT DECREE. Resolves an investigation into whether Yaham LED marketed LED signs used in digital billboards and other commercial and industrial applications, in violation of the Commission’s equipment marketing rules. Action by: Deputy Chief, Enforcement Bureau. Adopted: 2018-07-17 by Order/Consent Decree. (DA No. 18-656). EB. DA-18-656A1.pdf DA-18-656A1.txt


AT&T Adds Band 14 to More than 2,500 Sites

AT&T, Inc., announced today that it has deployed Band 14 equipment at more than 2,500 cell sites across the country, and that it is working to add another 10,000 or more sites. AT&T also said that the first dedicated deployable assets for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) network it is building have been delivered.

“Band 14 deployments are underway in 50 states and Puerto Rico. And it’s already on-air for testing in 40+ states,” AT&T said in a news release. “This includes California, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas. Band 14 will continue to be rapidly deployed nationwide and submitted to the FirstNet Authority for validation.” “More than 1,000 new sites are planned as part of the FirstNet Band 14 build,” AT&T added.

AT&T also said that “the first FirstNet-dedicated deployable network assets, such as Satellite Cell on Light Trucks (SatCOLT), are now available.”

There has been a delay in getting deployable equipment ordered for the FirstNet program delivered. Under its contract with FirstNet, AT&T has to have all 72 dedicated deployables ready by September. AT&T has said it will meet that milestone.

AT&T also said today that “[i]n the past month, adoption has grown to nearly 1,500 public safety agencies across 52 states and territories. This accounts for more than 110,000 connections on the FirstNet network.”

“It is great to see the incredible strides being made in the initial deployment of public safety’s spectrum,” said FirstNet Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth. “There’s still much work to be done and as the FirstNet buildout continues, we’ll work hand-in-hand with AT&T to ensure that FirstNet’s advancements meet the needs of first responders.”- Paul Kirby,

Courtesy TRDaily


NENA Praises 911 Fee Diversion Bill

NENA today praised the introduction of legislation (HR 6424) that is designed to prevent states from diverting 911 fees for other purposes. Rep. Chris Collins (R., NY) was joined by Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (D., Calif.) and Leonard Lance (R., N.J.) in introducing the 9-1-1 Fee Integrity Act yesterday (TR Daily, July 19). Dan Henry, director-government relations for NENA, said today that his group “applauds Reps. Collins, Eshoo, and Lance for taking this important step towards ensuring accountability in the use of state 9-1-1 fees. NENA supports all efforts to facilitate a sufficient, sustainable mechanism for funding our nation’s first … responders, both to maintain current service levels and accelerate the nationwide transition to Next Generation 9-1-1.”

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC Grants Waiver for Nationwide EAS Test

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau granted a limited waiver today to require wireless carriers to participate in the first nationwide, end-to-end wireless emergency alert (WEA) test. In seeking the waiver (TR Daily, July 11), the Federal Emergency Management Agency said “[t]his will be the first nationwide test of WEA utilizing the Presidential level code.”

The test is scheduled for 2:18 p.m. EDT on Sept. 20, with an Oct. 3 back-up date at the same time. “The WEA test would be conducted in coordination with a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) that would immediately follow the WEA test” at 2:30 p.m. EDT, the bureau noted in today’s order, which was adopted in PS dockets 15-91 and 15-94.

Courtesy TRDaily