First established in the Office for Domestic Preparedness in 2003, the Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program (ICTAP) was transferred to the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) in 2007. Under OEC's guidance, the Technical Assistance (TA) program expanded and now serves all 56 states and territories. The program provides direct support to state, local, and tribal emergency responders and government officials through the development and delivery of training, tools, and onsite assistance to advance public safety interoperable communications capabilities.
TA Service Offerings
TA support covers all five lanes of the SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum, a tool developed by stakeholders and approved by DHS. These services, which are provided at no cost, include instruction and assistance with the planning, governance, operational, and technical aspects of developing and implementing interoperable communications initiatives. TA service offerings are designed to help emergency responders continue to communicate during disasters or large-scale planned events. These offerings support Statewide Communication Interoperability Plans (SCIPs) and the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP)—the first strategic plan designed to increase interoperability across the nation.
OEC provides a TA Catalog of service offerings, and has expanded it as a direct result of stakeholder feedback. The 2012 TA Catalog features new and updated offerings to support planning for broadband, radio re-programming for narrowbanding, and workshops for dispatch and mobile communications vehicles operations. OEC is also working with stakeholders to analyze NECP Goal 2 data on county-level capabilities and performance to focus resources where they are needed the most.
Throughout the TA process, OEC ensures that the assistance provided is integrated with SCIP implementation and that it aligns with the NECP. OEC also ensures that TA support is made available to all states and territories. Since 2007, OEC has completed over 700 TA engagements in all 56 states and territories ranging from Communications Unit Leader (COML) training to engineering studies of microwave backhaul.
In order to receive TA, state and local agencies must coordinate with Statewide Interoperability Coordinators and obtain approval from the State Administrative Agency. States can submit up to five prioritized requests for services that align with SCIP initiatives. At least one request should address an urban area in the state (if applicable). Requests are collected at the beginning of the fiscal year and reviewed by OEC. OEC then approves or denies the request, defers the request for re-consideration during the next service period, or forwards the request for coordination with other OEC resources. Requests are prioritized and analyzed based on the impact of the request on NECP and SCIP implementation, prioritization by the state or territory, and availability of subject matter experts.
For additional information please contact OEC@dhs.gov