7 States Diverted 9-1-1 Fees During 2011 (11/8/11)
Tuesday, November 08, 2011 | Comments

Arizona, Illinois, Oregon and Rhode Island diverted 9-1-1 fees to their state’s general fund in 2011, according to a new report from the FCC. Virginia and West Virginia used diverted fees for other public safety-related purposes. South Dakota did not provide expenditure information for the report.

The FCC’s third annual report highlights states that have diverted any portion of the 9-1-1 fees they collect for purposes other than 9-1-1 programs. “The Report to Congress on State Collection and Distribution of 9-1-1 and Enhanced 9-1-1 Fees and Charges” was submitted to Congress Nov. 1. The commission submits the report annually pursuant to the New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008 (NET 911 Act). The states and U.S. territories provide the information regarding their collection and expenditure of 9-1-1 fees to the FCC.

This year's report identifies seven states that, in part, used some portion of 9-1-1 fees for non-9-1-1 purposes in 2010. This represents a decline in the number of states that reported diverting 9-1-1 fees in previous years. The FCC’s first annual report in 2009 identified 12 states that had diverted 9-1-1 funds, while the second annual report in 2010 identified 13 states that had diverted funds.

“The good news this year is that the number of states diverting 9-1-1 funds to purposes other than public safety is going down,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “As we move toward a next-generation 9-1-1 system, the FCC is today seeking input on how to most effectively use 9-1-1 fees to enable the transition to sending text, video and photos to 9-1-1, and on recommendations to Congress to ensure that its laws have real teeth.”

In conjunction with the report, the commission issued a public notice proposing to collect more detailed information from states and U.S. territories regarding their collection and use of 9-1-1 fees, including whether such fees are or can be used to support next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) initiatives. The notice also seeks comment on whether the FCC should recommend potential legislative changes to Congress that would provide greater accountability in the collection and expenditure of 9-1-1 funds.

“Fee diversion remains a concern, and we are committed to improving our information collection and reporting to ensure transparency and accountability in 9-1-1 fee collections and expenditures as Congress intended,” said FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief (PSHSB) James Barnett Jr.

National Emergency Number Association (NENA) officials said the public expects state and local government to responsibly manage the funds collected for 9-1-1 systems. “Misuse of 9-1-1 funds not only puts one of the nation’s most critical systems at risk; it also breaks the trust established with the public,” said NENA President Rick Galway. “Unfortunately, some state and local governments continue to see 9-1-1 revenues as a funding source for other programs. Funds the public remits in good faith specifically for 9-1-1 purposes must be used to further 9-1-1’s most basic purpose: to ensure that 9-1-1 callers can quickly be located in emergency situations and receive an effective emergency response.

“NENA encourages Congress, the FCC, and leaders in all 50 states to take action to end the practice of redirecting 9-1-1 fee revenues and ensure 9-1-1 systems have the funding necessary for the technological upgrades necessary to keep pace with consumer expectations and enable the seamless sharing of voice, text, video and other data between citizens, 9-1-1 centers and first responders.”

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