FEMA releases guideline for first responder ID cards
- By Alice Lipowicz
- Dec 24, 2008
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
“FEMA punted,” said Warren Suss, president of Suss
Consulting. “It shows a lack of federal leadership on information
security and [information technology] security.”
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.
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.
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.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.