Emergency program moving along

DERIS description

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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



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