H.R. 3633: To allow the funding for the interoperable emergency communications grant program established under the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 to remain available until expended through fiscal year 2012

H.R. 3633

To allow the funding for the interoperable emergency communications grant program established under the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 to remain available until expended through fiscal year 2012

Date
October 28, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

H.R. 3633 is expected to be considered under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority for passage. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) on September 23, 2009. The Committee on Energy and Commerce approved the bill by voice vote on October 15, 2009.

 

 

Bill Summary

H.R. 3633 authorizes the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) to extend the deadline for making grants to public safety agencies to improve the interoperability of emergency communications systems to the end of Fiscal Year 2012. Under current law, all grant expenditures must be completed by September 30, 2010.

Additionally, the bill specifies that funding for an interoperable emergency communications grant program under current law could remain available until expended, but no later than the end of Fiscal Year 2012. Currently, funding for the program must be spent by the end of Fiscal Year 2010. The bill would give recipients an additional year to spend grant funds.

The bill permits the NTIA to provide additional one-year extensions on a case-by-case basis, but even in those cases, funds would have to be spent by the end of Fiscal Year 2012. H.R. 3633 requires the NTIA, when considering such an extension, to consider the circumstances that gave rise to the need for the extension, the likelihood of completion of performance within the deadline for completion, and such other factors deemed necessary.

 

Background

The 2005 Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act required all broadcasters to convert to digital broadcasting and cease broadcasting in analog by February 17, 2009. That date was later extended to June 12, 2009. The law required the spectrum freed up from the termination of analog broadcasting to be auctioned off. The proceeds of that auction were primarily intended for deficit reduction, but certain portions were also set aside for other purposes, including a grant program to assist public safety agencies with acquiring and deploying interoperable communications equipment, software, and systems.

The grants are administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and CBO recently reported that the NTIA had spent approximately $225 million on the program, as of September 30, 2009.

 

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that H.R. 3633 would not affect revenues or spending subject to appropriation.