A failure to test and modernize the U.S. emergency alert system leaves doubt whether the president would be able to communicate with the American people during a terrorist attack or natural disaster, congressional investigators said Thursday.
A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) described the existing Emergency Alert System (EAS) as “antiquated” and “unreliable” and said that eight years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has made only “limited progress” in creating a system to replace it.
“Specifically, a lack of training and national-level testing raises questions about whether the relay system would actually work during a national-level emergency,” said the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress.
FEMA last tested the system, which uses radio and television stations to relay emergency information or a message from the president, during an earlier GAO investigation in 2007. Three of the 35 primary television stations failed to receive and rebroadcast the message because of hardware and software issues at that time, the report said.
“FEMA has not held another test since 2007,” the report said. “In addition, FEMA has no plans for testing the relay distribution system.” (emphasis mine)
In response to the report, the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees FEMA, said it generally concurred with the oversight agency’s findings and pledged to conduct more testing and training and provide regular reports to Congress.
“We will work with the Federal Communications Commission to define ways to enforce new testing procedures without placing an undue burden on industry,” the Homeland Security Department said in its response.
A significant “operational weakness” is that the present system transmits through weaker signals during the daylight hours, and FEMA estimates it can reach 75 percent of the population during the day, as opposed to 82 percent after dark.
I just keep feeling safer and sleeping better with this administration at the helm while Iran continues its march toward becoming a nuclear power. Does this mean that maybe Janet and her cronies are going to actually do some work protecting Americans instead of labeling them? That would be a new one.