Legislation to modernize the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) and establish a committee to develop and submit recommendations for improving the system would cost $37 million over the next five years, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts, according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2015 (HR 1472).
Introduced by Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Penn.), and reported to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, the legislation would authorize the appropriation of $12.8 million per year from 2016 to 2018 for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to modernize and implement IPAWS. The annual authorization level is roughly the same amount that has been allocated for this activity in recent years, CBO said.
IPAWS utilizes multiple technologies (for example, satellite radios, computers and cellular phones) in addition to traditional radio and television communications to provide information about an impending or ongoing emergency situation. The bill specifies several criteria for modernization that IPAWS would be required to meet.
DHS is currently pursuing several of those criteria under Executive Order 13407. Other goals not specified by that order, but which are contained in the bill, include training state and local governments and other stakeholders and ensuring that IPAWS can withstand terrorist attacks.
The bill also would establish an advisory committee to develop recommendations to continue improving IPAWS. Within one year of enactment, the committee would submit a report to Congress outlining those recommendations. However, because the committee would not terminate until after 2018 (the last year in which the bill specifies an authorization level), additional discretionary appropriations would be necessary to continue operations of the committee.
Based on historical expenditures for similar activities, CBO estimated that providing that funding would cost about $1 million over the 2019-2020 period. And, based on the rate of prior spending by DHS for IPAWS, CBO estimated implemention of HR 1472 would cost $37 million over the next five years, assuming appropriation of the specified amounts.
As ordered reported by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on April 15, CBO estimated that implementing the legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues.
The bill would authorize appropriations totaling $38 million over the 2016-2018 period for the DHS, and contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA), and would not affect the budgets of state, local or tribal governments.
CBO said its estimate “assumes that the legislation will be enacted near the end of fiscal year 2015 and that amounts specified and estimated to be necessary will be appropriated for each year.