FEMA looks ahead on emergency warning system

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is seeking the best way to hire a vendor to help it implement an integrated emergency alert system that uses the latest information technology.

FEMA published a request for information and a draft statement of work for support services for implementing the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Dec. 10. The agency released a modified version of the notice today. The pre-solicitation notice said FEMA would use vendors’ responses to determine the appropriate contract mechanism for acquiring the needed services.

President Bush ordered the new alert system in 2006, and some experts have been critical of FEMA's efforts to implement it.

Officials say IPAWS will improve the current emergency alert and warning systems, which rely on radio and TV broadcasts.

IPAWS will use mobile media — such as cell phones, pagers, computers and other personal communications devices — to warn people through live or pre-recorded messages in audio, video and text and in multiple languages, including American Sign Language and Braille, FEMA officials said.

According to the draft statement of work, officials are considering an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract for the services, which could involve engineering design, conducting inventories of existing systems, acquiring hardware and software, modifying facilities, and providing support for federal, state and local communities.

Responses are due by Jan 30, 2009. In the RFI, FEMA officials said they want to determine the best way to buy software and hardware, incorporate lessons learned from other contract awards, and assess the industry’s interest in providing the services.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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