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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