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Fact Sheet: Commerce Department and Department of Homeland Security Sign Memorandum of Understanding to implement the $1 billion Public Safety Interoperable Communications Grant Program

The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Friday, February 16, 2007, to implement the $1 billion Public Safety Interoperable Communications (PSIC) Grant Program to help state, local and federal first responders better communicate during a natural or man-made disaster.

The Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 (the Act) provides that the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information of the Department of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of the DHS, shall make payments not to exceed $1 billion in the aggregate through fiscal year 2010 to carry out the PSIC program. The Act also directed NTIA, in consultation with DHS, to develop the grant program policies, procedures and regulations of the grants to be awarded in 2007, and grant projects will be completed in Fiscal Year 2010. As required in the recently enacted Call Home Act of 2006, the grants will be awarded by September 30, 2007.

The grant program, which covers public safety agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and four U.S. territories, will assist public safety agencies in the acquisition of, deployment of, or training for the use of interoperable communications systems that can utilize reallocated public safety spectrum in the 700 MHz band for radio communication.

Under this MOU, DHS's Office of Grants and Training will provide grants management services to NTIA for the PSIC grant program. DHS, among other things, will: (1) develop policies, procedures and regulations to govern the PSIC program; (2) develop a timetable to complete actions so that grants may be awarded by the established dates; (3) develop and distribute program application and guidance materials; (4) publicize the availability of grant opportunities; (5) provide technical assistance to applicants; (6) notify recipients of grant awards; (7) award grant funds by September 30, 2007; and (8) conduct site visits to verify progress and completion of funded projects.

NTIA, among other things, will: (1) assist in the development of policies, procedures, and regulations governing the PSIC program and approve the same; (2) provide DHS with NTIA access rights to to post funding opportunity announcements and post NTIA grant award information to the Federal Assistance Award Data Systems; (3) participate in publicizing the availability of grant opportunities under the PSIC Grant Program; (4) approve final grant awards; (5) review and approve an annual administrative plan to implement the program; (6) jointly announce grant awards; and (7) provide funding to DHS for administrative costs and the grant awards.

The PSIC Grant Program will be designed to complement funds that have been awarded through other grant programs-such as the Homeland Security Grant Program, and Infrastructure Protection Program-that included interoperable communications funds. The program guidance and application process will emphasize leveraging grants, contracts or state/local budgets to build and sustain intra- and interstate regional capabilities and identified needs. The program also will reflect existing guidance from the SAFECOM Program Office within the DHS Office for Interoperability and Compatibility.

The Program Plan sets forth the schedule of major activities regarding administration of the PSIC Grant Program and the budget plan delineates the amount of funds to be transferred between FY 2007 and FY 2011 for specific activities. Grants will be awarded after grant guidance is completed in the third quarter of FY 2007 and grant application information, and eligibility requirements also will be released, at this time.

NTIA will transfer an amount not to exceed $988,985,000 to DHS over the full term of this agreement, including $958,985,000 in grants and not more than $30,000,000 for management and administrative services.

For program information, the public may contact NTIA's Office of Telecommunications and Information Administration at (202) 482-5802 or the DHS Office of Grants and Training at 1-800-368-6498.


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