DHS OIG Report Underscores FEMA’s Oversight on Alert & Warning System

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The inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security released a report assessing the Federal Emergency Management Agency‘s oversight of an alert and warning system used to inform the public of natural disasters or emergency situations.

The DHS said on Nov. 19 that FEMA maintains limited control over the sending and canceling of state alerts via the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, and does not adequately mandate functions that an emergency alert software vendor must have for its product, such as preview or cancel options. It’s also not mandatory for software vendors to train federal and state authorities on how to operate their technology, the agency noted.

FEMA’s IPAWS Program Management Office assists over 1,000 officials on how to use the national alerting tool, but the agency cannot evaluate each message to validate its accuracy, according to the DHS. FEMA responded positively to the DHS’ observations and agreed that changes should be implemented to boost the alerting system’s performance. Those changes should be put in place by Oct. 31, 2019, the DHS added.

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