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GAO Admonishes FCC for Failure to Promote Network Resiliency Framework

Jan 9, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) released a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) today recommending that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) take a series of steps to improve network resiliency.  The report was prepared at Pallone’s request in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to review progress on improvements to the resiliency of networks and provide recommendations on options that federal agencies could take to enhance resiliency following natural disasters.  According to recent reports, natural disasters cost the United States $306 billion in damage in 2017 alone.

In 2016, Pallone worked with the wireless industry to create the Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework, which was developed to strengthen communications networks during emergencies.

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, Pallone called on the FCC to, “review how it can ensure the Framework is as effective as possible, including better informing public safety officials about the Framework.” The new GAO report found that the FCC has limited plans to spread knowledge of the Framework and that without greater awareness of the program, state and local public safety officials may continue to be unaware of tools to both prepare for and respond to emergencies.

This report shows that we have made some progress on network resiliency since Superstorm Sandy, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done,” Pallone said.  “The Wireless Resiliency Cooperative Framework will save lives, and we must do more to ensure Americans benefit from the tools created by this agreement.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the FCC to follow through on this report’s recommendations so that there is greater awareness of this framework by state and local governments.”

The GAO report recommendations for the FCC include:

  1. Work with industry, to develop specific and measurable objectives for the Framework;
  2. Develop a plan to monitor the outputs and outcomes of the Framework; and, 
  3. Promote awareness about the elements of and any outcomes from the Framework among state and local public safety officials and other industry stakeholders.

The Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework provides for reasonable arrangements for roaming during disasters when technically feasible, fosters mutual aid during emergencies, enhances local governments’ preparedness and restoration, increases consumer readiness and preparation, and improves public awareness and stakeholder communications on service and restoration status by providing public information on actual outages for given disasters or emergencies.

A copy of the GAO report is available HERE.