The tragic events of September 11, 2001 clarified the critical importance of effective emergency responder communication systems. The lack of emergency response interoperability is a long-standing, complex, and costly problem with many impediments to overcome. Interoperability is the ability of emergency response agencies to talk to one another via radio communication systems—to exchange voice and/or data with one another on demand, in real time, when needed and when authorized. While several government programs have made great strides in addressing this issue, much of this work has been disconnected, fragmented, and often conflicting. In an effort to coordinate the various Federal initiatives, in 2001, the SAFECOM program was established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and approved by the Bush Administration’s President’s Management Council (PMC) as a high priority E-Gov initiative.
SAFECOM is an emergency communications program of the Department of Homeland Security’s OEC and OIC. As a stakeholder-driven program, SAFECOM is led by an Executive Committee, in support of the Emergency Response Council—groups that are primarily composed of State and local emergency responders and intergovernmental and national public safety communications associations. Both groups regularly convene to discuss interoperability, emergency communications, and provide input on the challenges, needs, and best practices of emergency responders. OEC develops policy, guidance, and future initiatives within the Federal agency by drawing on EC and ERC member expertise, best practices and recommendations.
The SAFECOM Executive Committee elects a Chair and Vice-Chair annually. The SAFECOM elected officials’ biographies are below.
SAFECOM adheres to a bottom-up approach, which means the program relies heavily on local and State emergency response practitioners for input and guidance as it works to define and implement solutions for the interoperability challenge.
As a practitioner-driven program, SAFECOM has developed a governance structure that facilitates the input of local and State emergency response practitioners. Through the Program’s Executive Committee (EC) and Emergency Response Council (ERC), the emergency response community and Federal, State, local, and tribal policy makers provide strategic input to SAFECOM.
The EC and ERC are comprised of representatives of national public safety associations and emergency responders from all levels of government. Their involvement ensures that Federal, State, local, and tribal stakeholders have a voice in the development of nationwide planning efforts and an opportunity to provide insight on user viewpoints, needs, and resources. Through this relationship, SAFECOM has been able to achieve a shared vision, advance coordination, and define long-term goals within the emergency communications community.
More About Governance
Through bi-annual Emergency Response Council (ERC) meetings and regular working groups, SAFECOM has been responsible for numerous planning, guidance, and policy documents since its inception.
More About Initiatives
Frequently Asked Questions
This section includes SAFECOM's Frequently Asked Questions.