FEMA releases guideline for first responder ID cards

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has released guidance for credentialing first responders that doesn’t mandate a federal technical standard for identification cards. Instead, the agency is asking state and local agencies to voluntarily follow the rules.

In a 25-page draft of the National Incident Management System Guideline for the Credentialing of Personnel, FEMA encourages state and local governments to voluntarily adopt interoperable identification credentials. It posted the document online Dec. 23.

“The guideline describes specific authority and best practices for managing interstate disasters and integrates the credentialing process within the Incident Command System,” the document states. The guideline covers police, fire and medical response agencies; mutual aid; and private emergency workers who restore power, water and other services.

However, FEMA did not recommend the adoption of a federal technical standard for employee identification cards, such as Federal Information Processing Standard 201.

“FEMA punted,” said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting. “It shows a lack of federal leadership on information security and [information technology] security.”

In recent years, other Homeland Security Department agencies have addressed first responder credentialing. For example, FEMA’s Office of National Capital Region Coordination launched several pilot projects for a FIPS 201-based first responder credential in cooperation with Arlington County, Va., and other communities.

The Smart Card Alliance industry group has promoted the use of FIPS 201 as a nationwide standard for first responder identification. However, state and local officials have objected to a federally mandated credentialing system unless it comes with financial support to cover implementation costs.

FEMA began working on the national guideline for first responder credentials more than a year ago. In the draft document, FEMA states that its guideline is voluntary but that adopting it will strengthen agencies’ eligibility for federal emergency preparedness grants.

The document offers advice on registration and enrollment, eligibility and risk assessments, issuance, verification and use, expiration and revocation, and redress and waiver.

In a separate notice dated Dec. 22, FEMA said it would accept public comments on the guideline until Jan. 21, 2009.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.