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“Board for Equipment Standardization and InterOperability should be subordinated to the National Office for Combating Terrorism.
“The Federal co-lead agencies should develop certification standards in coordination with appropriate Federal agencies and with advice from State and local response entities, professional organizations that represent response disciplines, and private and quasipublic certifying entities."
Mr. Chairman, those functions that we recommend now almost two years ago
still need to be performed, now obviously more urgently that before. Unfortunately, we
are still a long way from achieving any coherence in standards and testing, especially for
"first responder” equipment and communications capability. It is still the case that the
only “standards” available are what vendors say are the capabilities of their wares. We
continue to need something like an “underwriters laboratory” for a wide variety of
protective equipment and communications. We have before and will again recognize the
efforts of the Interagency Board for Equipment Standardization and InterOperability,
National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (in the Chairman's home state of
Pennsylvania) and the Technical Support Working Group. Those efforts will not,
however, be nearly enough, at least not at the level of current resources.
For training, the panel is encouraged that the majority of Federal training
programs, at least those currently in FEMA and DOJ, will apparently be combined in the
new DHS. Nevertheless, other Federal agencies—EPA, DOE, DOD, DHHS as
examples—will continue to conduct training that will need to conform to a set of national
training standards. That effort has not yet been undertaken, but it should be required on
an urgent basis.
The Advisory Panel will continue to be relentless in pursuing appropriate
solutions to these difficult issues, even if our recommendations are controversial and
cross some “turf' boundaries. We will always—always—consider as an overarching
concern the impact of any legal, policy, or process changes on our civil rights and
liberties. Our Constitution, our laws, our judicial system, our culture, our history all
combine to make our way of life unique in all the world.
Thank you again for this opportunity.