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NENA Welcomes GAO Report on 9-1-1 Fund Use

Thursday, April 18, 2013  
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Statement by Brian Fontes, CEO of NENA, The 9-1-1 Association

On behalf of more than 6,000 9-1-1 call centers across America and our members who lead and staff them, NENA welcomes a new report released today by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), entitled 911 Service: Most States Used Funds for Intended Purposes, but FCC Could Improve Its Reporting on State Use of Funds. A copy of the report is available here.

NENA is pleased that another element of the Next Generation 9-1-1 Advancement Act of 2012 has been completed, and that the GAO seems to have devoted much time and effort to preparing its report.

However, the report is in some ways a missed opportunity. NENA had hoped that the Act would prompt a detailed look at primary-source materials on 9-1-1 fee collection by the states, and whether those fees are actually spent to further the deployment, operation, maintenance, and improvement of 9-1-1 services. However, the GAO did not conductanyreview of publicly-available state revenue and appropriations data to determine whether the data that is self-reported by the states is accurate.

In light of the existing FCC reporting regime, the fact that Congress ordered a GAO study should have made it apparent that something different was required. Instead, the report dwells on methodological problems with the FCC’s existing data collection regime, while basing almostall of its own findings on that very data set.

Beyond its statutory directive, the GAO focused much of its energies on researching subjects such as E9-1-1 wireless location capabilities that have already been comprehensively studied by NENA and others, and for which data was already publicly available.

Despite our misgivings about the report’s scope and methodology, NENA is pleased that the information assembled by GAO will be made available to lawmakers and the public in a convenient and high-profile format. We call on the Congress to scrutinize the report and continue to seek more illuminating data.

NENA remains committed to ensuring that citizens receive the benefits they deserve from the 9-1-1 fees they are charged, and we look forward to working with GAO on future 9-1-1 studies.