Established by Congress in 2007 in response to communications challenges witnessed during the attacks on September 11, 2001 and during Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) partners with emergency communications personnel and government officials at all levels of government to lead the nationwide effort to improve emergency communications capabilities.
On July 6, 2012, Executive Order 13618 was issued by President Obama to update and clarify national security and emergency preparedness (NS/EP) communications responsibilities for the Federal government. As a result, DHS has realigned programs within OEC and the former National Communications System (NCS) to lead the Department’s support for emergency communications and NS/EP communications programs. The combined services of OEC’s traditional support for interoperable communications with NCS’ technical capabilities for NS/EP communications results in a comprehensive office to address all emergency communications issues. Ron Hewitt, the former Executive Agent and Manager of the NCS, serves as the Director of OEC. Chris Essid serves as the Deputy Director.
OEC carries out its mission through its six branches:
Policy and Planning Branch – This branch leads the coordination of strategic policy activities for OEC, including the development of broadband spectrum policy, design and implementation of the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP), and grants coordination. Policy and Planning also develops white papers and position papers on emerging policy issues and leads special projects, such as the Cyber Risk Assessment for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN).
Partnerships Branch – This branch is responsible for engaging partners at all levels of government – Federal, State, local, tribal, and international – to focus on improving public safety, national security, and emergency communications.
Technical Assistance Branch – This branch provides state-requested and national priority technical assistance service offerings to Federal, State, territorial, and tribal communities.
Regional Coordination Branch – This branch supports building and improving emergency communications capabilities across all levels of government through trusted relationships, collaboration, technical assistance, and knowledge sharing. OEC’s Regional Coordinators and Communications Liaisons established across the country serve as liaisons to States and municipalities and provide subject matter expertise for operable and interoperable emergency communications.
Architecture and Advanced Technology Branch – This branch performs technical analyses and assesses new technologies for national security and emergency preparedness (NS/EP) communications.
Communications Portfolio Management (CPM) Branch – This branch manages priority telecommunications services including the following programs: Government Emergency Telecommunications Services (GETS), Wireless Priority Services (WPS), Next Generation Network Priority Services (NGN-PS), and Telecommunications Service Priority (TSP).
For additional information please contact OEC by email at OEC@dhs.gov.