CISA Engagement at 2019 USET Impact Week

Author: CISA Tribal Affairs

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was invited to share information about the importance of the recently released Emergency Communications Governance Guide for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials (SLTT Governance Guide) during the United South Eastern Tribes (USET) Impact Week. Impact Week was held March 4-7 in Crystal City, Virginia, and focused on key tribal issues including culture and heritage, economic development and entrepreneurship, education, health, homeland security and emergency services, housing, natural resources, social services, transportation, tribal administration, justice, and Veterans affairs. This annual event draws participants from 27 federally-recognized tribes from the eastern and southern United States.

CISA participated during the Homeland Security and Emergency Services Committee session on March 6 to provide an overview of the SLTT Governance Guide and encourage tribes to provide input to the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP).

CISA discussed lessons learned and best practices recommended within the SLTT Governance Guide, which support effective public safety communications governance. Governance is critical to interoperable communications, planning, coordination, and decision making, as well as to integrating emerging technologies into public safety communications systems.  The SLTT Governance Guide examines key issues such as the various types of governance structures, as well as the importance of establishing strategic partnerships, training, and formal agreements.

The NECP organizes national public safety planning efforts to improve and sustain emergency communications capabilities. This plan provides guidance for communications to support response and recovery operations across traditional emergency responder disciplines including law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, and dispatch. Non-traditional entities addressed within the plan include medical facilities, utilities, nongovernmental organizations, media, and private citizens.

The NECP is undergoing an update to address recommendations from the public safety community. Development of both the SLTT Governance Guide and NECP is facilitated by CISA through SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators. SLTT, federal, and private sector input helped shape both documents, and tribal input helps to ensure that the unique needs and challenges tribes face are represented and addressed. The draft NECP was released for public comment through March 22. A special focus group of public safety officials, which will include tribal representation met on April 3 to adjudicate comments.

CISA also described the ongoing communications governance profile effort. Each profile individually documents a tribe’s communications infrastructure, capabilities, challenges, and opportunities for improvement. The governance profiles help identify ways in which CISA can support tribal efforts to enhance existing capabilities or establish new infrastructure. The profile effort has led to the discovery of multiple best practices which are documented within the SLTT Governance Guide. The profiles also lead to technical assistance to tribes such as planning and documentation support, exercise development and coordination, technical coverage and gap analysis, relationship building, and the development of dispatch capabilities.

Multiple tribes who participated in the Homeland Security and Emergency Services Committee session were interested in applying best practices outlined in the SLTT Governance Guide and learning more about the NECP. They also expressed a strong interest in participating in the governance profile effort to identify ways in which CISA could provide technical assistance to their tribe.

For more information about the SLTT Governance Guide, NECP, or communications governance profile effort, contact SAFECOMGovernance@HQ.DHS.GOV.