The State Wide Interoperable Communications Enhancement Act, or SWIC Enhancement Act (HR 2206), passed by the House would require states to have a Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC) or to delegate activities related to achieving interoperability to other individuals.
The author of the bill, Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications, said Monday afternoon, “Lack of interoperable communications impedes the ability of first responders to carry out effective responses to emergency situations. When first responders can’t communicate with one another, their ability to coordinate life-saving activities becomes jeopardized."
Payne said, "The SWIC Enhancement Act enables coordinated communication between emergency personnel and ensures first responders have the training and capabilities needed to keep themselves and our communities safe.”
Payne’s office said, “In recent years, states have been able to rely on the Department of Homeland Security’s Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program to support their communications governance structures and their Statewide Interoperability Coordinators, who work with emergency personnel across all levels of government, guiding the education and training of first responders and communications staff.”
SWICs are also responsible for leading all coordination efforts, including statewide planning, and developing a strategic vision for interoperability.
“However,” Payne’s office said, “due to the elimination of the Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program and reduced funding for other state and local homeland security grant programs, some states are eliminating SWICs. As a result, activities critical to maintaining and advancing interoperable emergency communications policies are not being effectively coordinated.”
Earlier this month, another bill authored by Payne, the DHS Interoperable Communications Act (HR 615) was signed intolaw by President Obama which requires DHS’s Under Secretary for Management to maintain interoperable communications among the components of the department.
Under the new law, DHS is also required to create and submit to Congress a strategy to achieve department-wide interoperable communications that includes known interoperability challenges and gaps and projected milestones.