Public-Safety Groups Disappointed with OMB Decision Not to Reclassify Telecommunicators
Wednesday, November 29, 2017 | Comments

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) did not update the way 9-1-1 professionals are classified in the standard occupational classification (SOC) after a push by public-safety groups to change their classification to a protective service occupation. OMB determined that public-safety telecommunicators would continue to be designated as office and administrative support occupations.

The decision followed a recommendation in July that the designation remain. The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) then sent a call for action to members to help change the federal classification for public-safety telecommunicators by filing comments and examples of why the designation should be changed to a protective service occupation.

“We've consulted with a top law firm in D.C. and decided that pursuing a remedy in court is not a viable option,” said an email from Derek Poarch, APCO executive director and CEO. “However, this decision is within OMB's discretion, which means OMB, or even President Trump, has the power to correct it. APCO will continue fighting this.”

The association tweeted the following and asked its members to continue the battle on social media to get the president’s attention: “Fed agency @OMBpress staff has failed the nation's 9-1-1 professionals, deciding 9-1-1 call takers & dispatchers aren't ‘protective’ occupations. @realDonaldTrump @POTUS Please fix this! 9-1-1 professionals save lives. #911ProtectsMe.”

“The staff involved with revising the SOC went so far as to tell us that they had no doubt that the work performed by 9-1-1 professionals is protective,” Poarch said. “Based on conversations with OMB, we believe OMB staff gave weight to where the work is primarily being performed and decided not to make 9-1-1 professionals part of the ‘protective service’ category because they mostly work inside comm centers. This is not a strict application of the SOC’s organization principles or its current makeup, but nonetheless, this is what OMB decided.”

The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) also said it is disappointed in OMB’s decision. “Although we recognize this has become an emotionally charged issue for many, NENA has provided substantive, evidence-based comments and advocacy, consistent with OMB’s data-driven approach to this statistical classification,” said NENA President Rob McMullen. “OMB has made it clear that this is the only way to achieve our long-term goal of full reclassification. We hold out hope that future reclassification efforts across the public-safety community will adopt an approach that is likewise aligned with the SOCPC/OMB data requirements.

“Despite today’s setback, NENA will continue to advocate for an accurate statistical classification for 9-1-1 professionals to support critical research into the mental and physical impacts of 9-1-1 jobs, which differ substantially from those encountered by other non-public-safety ‘dispatcher’ professions.”

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