Open Letter to EAS Stakeholders: The IPAWS Modernization Act of 2015

May 5, 2015

The EAS Stakeholder community has been waiting for more than a decade for Congress to weigh in on public warning improvement. Thanks to two U.S. Senators, we may finally see some action. Now is the time for all of us to get behind this legislation by contacting our Representatives and Senators, state and local emergency management agencies, and public safety organizations to generate strong support as this legislation takes shape. Please feel free to use some or all of our Open Letter below for your support letters.

The Broadcast Warning Working Group (BWWG) supports the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization (IPAWS) Act of 2015, introduced by Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Senator Claire McCaskill, (D-MO). This bi-partisan legislation will further modernize the public alert warning system of the United States to ensure that warnings about natural disasters, acts of terrorism and other disasters or threats are disseminated quickly and effectively. The BWWG commends Senator Johnson for his leadership in addressing this important issue and Senator McCaskill for joining Senator Johnson to provide bi-partisan support for the legislation.

Radio and television stations in the United States provide life-saving information to the communities they serve during emergencies and important weather and news events. Disseminating this life-saving information is a hallmark of their public service. This bi-partisan legislation is an important step toward expanding our ability to disseminate timely critical information to everyone at risk from all types of emergencies.

The IPAWS Act will ensure that lifesaving information about events such as natural disasters and terrorist acts can be broadcast across all viable communication platforms, present and future.

This legislation is a first step to the United States having a true, real and comprehensive public warning policy called for by the Partnership for Public Warning (PPW) in 2002 following the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Enhanced and timely protective actions, reassurance and information could have been issued to the general public on that tragic day had such a national warning policy been in place.

The BWWG also wishes to call attention to the new training program that this legislation establishes to instruct federal, state and local government officials on how to use the integrated public alert system. Such training is vital to a successful national public alert and warning system for our country, integrated across platforms and all levels of federal, state and local government.

The BWWG congratulates both Senator Ron Johnson and Senator Claire McCaskill for their commitment to our shared goal of informing and protecting the public. We look forward to working with them to pass this bi-partisan legislation that will help keep all people at risk in the United States and Territories and Protectorates safe by strengthening our nation’s public warning system.

The BWWG is an active partner with many federal, state and local government public warning stakeholders. We look forward to a continued and expanded partnership that passage of this legislation will most certainly foster as we work to improve timely, lifesaving protective action information for a public at risk.