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REMARKS OF COMMISSIONER MICHAEL J. COPPS COMMUNICATIONS SECURITY, RELIABILITY AND INTEROPERABILITY COUNCIL

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Released: December 7, 2009

REMARKS OF

COMMISSIONER MICHAEL J. COPPS

COMMUNICATIONS SECURITY, RELIABILITY AND

INTEROPERABILITY COUNCIL

DECEMBER 7, 2009

Good morning and thank you all for being here. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for
your kind words and thank you especially for convening this important first meeting of a
very important group.
I know we can say that about a lot of committees (how important they are) and
most of them are, but it’s especially true in this case and with this committee. The safety
of the people is always the highest obligation of government and the first duty of the
public servant. I worked for a U.S. Senator, the great Fritz Hollings of South Carolina,
who drilled that into me for 15 years—maybe he had to keep repeating because I was a
slow learner, but I think it was really because he lived that axiom every day.
I commend Chairman Genachowski for bringing us here today and for getting the
committee up-and-running—something I also made a priority while I was Acting Chair
earlier this year. It’s good to see the organizing work behind us now so the real work can
begin. I have spoken to the Chairman numerous times already about public safety, and I
know he brings huge priority to it and will provide this committee with the tools it needs
so it can do its job and to help us to do ours.
I know my Commission colleagues share this commitment. I’ve talked to each of
them about it and each brings valuable experience and perspective to the issues attending
public safety. We have some previous progress to build on. In the last Commission,
working with then-Chairman Kevin Martin, we were able to create a separate bureau at
the FCC, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, to focus on ensuring that
communications networks stay up and running and to work on plans for building an
interoperable broadband public safety network. My colleagues also agreed with me on
establishing a clearinghouse where experts from around the country could come to share
experiences and learn from what others had done when it comes to building out public
safety networks—what folks had done right but also what they’d done not-so-well, so
that other public safety entities wouldn’t waste time, money and effort going down wrong
roads. This work not only continues—it is accelerating under the able leadership of our
new Bureau Chief, Admiral Jamie Barnett. I am already impressed with the work he is
doing to move us ahead on these crucial issues—and I commend our Chairman for
recruiting him to the agency and for the high priority he has already demonstrated across
the gamut of security issues. And the Admiral has a great staff of dedicated FCC public
servants, with years of tremendous service, to help us meet our objectives.
Back to where I began—that’s the safety of the people. We’ve got a long road
still to travel. We could spend hours debating why we haven’t made more progress—but
none of us should be throwing stones. It’s like the old Pogo line, “We have met the
enemy—and it is us.” We’re over eight years out from 9/11 now—and over four years

beyond Hurricane Katrina—and our country is nowhere near where it should be in terms
of being prepared for the next great disaster, be it man-made or from the not-always-
benign hand of Mother Nature. On this day particularly, December 7th, we should
appreciate how swiftly harm can befall us. Yes, I think in some respects we’ve moved
ahead, but I think most public safety experts agree that there’s more to be done than has
yet been done. Many of us remember the stern warnings of The 9/11 Commission
Report
. Well, many of the shortfalls identified in that report still remain. And, as a
country, the farther away we get without another terror attack, the more hurricane-less
summers we have, the more folks become complacent. Most of us are guilty of that, I
suppose. And it’s not good. But it is government that must lead the way. Not acting by
itself, but working closely with the private sector, public safety, all the stakeholders—and
when it comes to public safety, we’re all stakeholders. It’s all of our jobs—industry,
government and the public safety community, working together—to do this job. As I
have said before, when disaster strikes again, we don’t want anyone to be able to say that
we in the public sector or you in the private sector were asleep at the switch. If disaster
struck tomorrow, to be perfectly frank, I don’t think there would be a patient reaction
from the American people—nor should there be.
I have worked with many of you in the predecessor councils to this one— the
NRIC and the MSRIC. Now they are essentially combined—reflecting the reality of the
convergence we are seeing across technologies and communications platforms. And, I
know we can count on you. Thank you, in particular, to Chris Fischer of APCO and Bill
Smith of AT&T for co-chairing our new CSRIC. We are fortunate to have them leading
this council.
I recognize that this is only your first meeting as the CSRIC—but since time is
not our friend when it comes to security and public safety, I will be looking for solid
recommendations from you on a host of issues. Soon. There are many public safety
issues out there—next-generation public safety and commercial communications
networks; cyber-security; E-911 reliability, CAP-based Emergency Alert Services;
prioritization of vital communications during a pandemic—to name just a few. I imagine
you’ll have a clearer idea of where your initial focus will be by the time you leave here
today.
The work of this Council is all the more timely in light of the charge this
Commission has from Congress and the President to develop a National Broadband Plan
to get high-speed, high-value broadband out to all our citizens. It’s the central
infrastructure challenge of the first half of the Twenty-first century—and its success
relies on that infrastructure being secure, reliable and interoperable. We’re going to be
hugely dependent on broadband in this century, so making it robust and reliable is an
enormous challenge. But our country knows how to respond to great challenge. You
know, in all the great infrastructure challenges coursing back through our history—
whether the building roads or transcontinental railroads or the electrification of rural
America—we have always found a way to bring the public and private sectors together to
get the job done. Broadband infrastructure—and the safety that must secure it—is no
exception. Each of you and your organizations bring experience, knowledge and

judgment to ensuring the security, reliability and interoperability of the broadband
networks the country is building. If we don’t have that, we will have really short-
changed both the infrastructure and our citizens.
I do have one other particular request. Make sure what you’re doing here is
known widely throughout the organizations you work for. If you run that company, it’s
easier to make that happen. If you don’t, make sure your leadership is thoroughly
invested in this, that it knows what you are doing in some detail, and is committed to this,
because the things we all have to do to meet our goals will require real buy-in and, no
doubt, the commitment of significant resources. Not just public resources, but private,
too. The job you’re doing here is important; make sure your organizations know that,
feel that, and act accordingly.
Let me stop talking so you can start working. I look forward to working with you
in the months ahead. My door is always open and my staff and I both understand the
import of what you are trying to accomplish. Again, I know this is a serious commitment
you have made, that there are lots of other things calling upon your time and talents, and
that you’re making a sacrifice by being part of this. For that my colleagues and I are
truly grateful.

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