GAO Offers Recommendations to Aid NG 9-1-1 Implementation
Monday, February 26, 2018 | Comments

In speaking with state and local 9-1-1 agencies, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified funding, evolving technology and operations, and governance as major challenges for implementing next generation 9-1-1.

GAO examined the nationwide NG 9-1-1 implementation by talking to local and state 9-1-1 officials in nine states that were in various phases of implementation. The agency found that none of the states were accepting images, audio files or video.

In three states, officials said that the funding they currently collect from telephone service subscribers may not be sufficient to support the transition costs of NG 9-1-1 implementation while simultaneously funding the operation of existing 9-1-1 systems.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) National 911 Program’s most recent national survey on NG 9-1-1 implementation found that about half of states were in some phase of transition to NG 9-1-1 in 2015, but that state and local progress varied. Ten states reported that all 9-1-1 authorities in their state processed calls using NG 9-1-1 systems, but 18 states reported having no state or local NG 9-1-1 transition plans in place. This could mean that those states were in the early phases of planning for the transition to NG 9-1-1 or had not yet begun.

The National 911 Program is the lead entity for coordinating federal NG 9-1-1 issues and is developing resources on NG 9-1-1 topics such as federal funding and governance structures.

The GAO noted that while the program is taking steps to facilitate the state and local transition to NG 9-1-1, it lacks specific performance goals and measures to assess its progress, making it difficult to determine to what extent the program is achieving its mission. The GAO recommended that the program develop performance goals and measurements to help in assessing its work.

This year, the National 911 Program plans to establish an interagency initiative to create the National NG911 Roadmap that will identify next steps for the federal government in supporting the creation of a national interconnected NG 9-1-1 system.

The GAO noted that while the National 911 Program has taken steps to develop a list of national level tasks as part of the road map initiative, it does not have a plan to identify roles or responsibilities for federal entities to carry out the tasks or how the program plans to achieve the road map’s objectives.

Collaborating with the appropriate federal agencies to determine federal roles and responsibilities to carry out the national level tasks could reduce barriers to agencies effectively working together to achieve those tasks, the GAO said. Additionally, developing an implementation plan that details how the road map tasks will be achieved would place the National 911 Program in a better position to effectively lead interagency efforts to implement NG 9-1-1 nationwide.

The NHTSA agreed with the GAO’s recommendations. Find the full report here.

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