Emergency program moving along
- By Diane Frank
- May 07, 2002
Following a successful demonstration with some of the most high-tech state
and local agencies, the federal government is ready to move on to a tougher
test of the Domestic Emergency Response Information Services (DERIS) program:
working with rural governments.
The Defense Department, which is running the program, also is working
to transfer DERIS to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National
Guard Bureau, both of which are responsible for coordination with first
responders under the Bush administration's homeland security mandate, said
Rosanne Hynes, information technology adviser for DOD's Homeland Security
Task Force, which led the development of the program.
The second phase of DERIS will be conducted later this year with agencies
in rural Pennsylvania, said Hynes, speaking May 6 at the Government CIO
Summit in Broomfield, Colo.
DOD, working with FEMA, the National Guard and other federal agencies,
developed the program to provide a network, a collaboration portal and training
tools for bringing together first responders and all levels of government
during an emergency.
The successful Phase I demo occurred March 12 with agencies in Chicago,
Los Angeles, and San Diego county. However, most state and local agencies
lack the information technology infrastructure or expertise of such jurisdictions,
and that is what DERIS must focus on in the future, Hynes said.
The success of demonstration also means that DOD can start to hand over
the program to FEMA and the National Guard, the agencies that Hynes said
should be in charge.
FEMA's homeland security responsibilities include the development of
a collaboration portal, such as the one developed for DERIS, which will
be part of the transfer, Hynes said. Defense put up the resources to develop
DERIS because FEMA could not, but coordinating domestic emergency response
is not DOD's job, so the program and the portal will be moving over to FEMA
and the National Guard before the Phase II demonstration, she said.
In addition to DERIS, DOD is starting to migrate responsibility for
its new Consequence Management Interoperability Services (CMI-Services)
program to FEMA, and has formed a group of advocates within DOD, FEMA, the
Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Homeland Security to ensure
that the funds needed for first responder coordination go to the right agencies
instead of any political pet projects.
In November, the group also formed the Emergency Response Network Initiative
to bring together officials from all of the agencies involved in homeland
security to compare and coordinate IT investments in the emergency response
arena, Hynes said.
"We're really helping to put FEMA in the position it needs to be," she