Interoperability funding update: Real Money?

Depression-era congressman and later US Senator Everett Dirksen is generally credited with the maxim, “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” In the case of funding for public safety communications interoperability, the billion dollars of real money promised as part of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 may become real sooner rather than later, but the disposition of the program remains the subject of significant debate and ambiguity as first responders around the country work to coordinate their homeland security, infrastructure protection and other emergency management funds and fit their plans for interoperability into the most appropriate grant applications.

The most significant move of late has been the signature in late February of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to formally transfer responsibility for administering the Public Safety Interoperable Communications (PSIC) program to DHS from NTIA, the statutory authority for the program. The MoU is available at

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About the author

Michael Paddock serves both as Chief Executive Officer of Grants Office, a national grant development services firm, and as Grants Columnist for the award-winning HSToday magazine. In his role at Grants Office, Mr. Paddock consults with dozens of state and local governments and international agencies on homeland security funding. He contributes regularly to a wide range of publications, and he is a featured speaker at many national conferences specializing in homeland security. Mr. Paddock served from 1996-2001 on the US Interagency Electronic Grants Committee and co-founded the New York State E-grants Project in 1999. His article “Funding the First 72 Hours” was recently accepted as a reference within the National Blueprint for Secure Communities, a joint project of the National Council on Readiness and Preparedness and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

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