FCC Chair Offers to Work with OMB on Changing 9-1-1 Telecommunicator Classification
Thursday, April 14, 2022 | Comments

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a letter offered to work with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and use the next available opportunity to review the current employment classification of 9-1-1 professionals in the OMB’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system.

The SOC is a federal statistical standard, maintained by OMB, used by federal agencies to classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating or disseminating data. Historically, 9-1-1 professionals have been classified as an “office and administrative support occupation.” However, reflective of the technological evolution of their responsibilities and work, Rosenworcel suggested OMB explore an update to 911 professionals’ classification to group them with others who work in emergency response in the “protective service” category.

“9-1-1 operators are among our most essential first responders,” she wrote. “Before a whistle at a fire station blows, an ambulance races or an air horn blares, it is a 9-1-1 professional who takes in a call and sets emergency response in motion. Of course, today’s 9-1-1 professionals do far more than answer 9-1-1 calls or passively receive information. They provide assistance, guidance and life-saving advice to 9-1-1 callers, particularly in the critical minutes before emergency personnel arrive at the scene. They also actively plan, coordinate, and direct the response activities of emergency personnel, especially when multiple agencies are involved.”

Rosenworcel’s letter drew attention to the changing role of public-safety telecommunicators as 9-1-1 communications technology evolves. As a result of this shift, the job of the public-safety telecommunicator now encompasses not only call-taking and dispatch but also the integration and analysis of multiple sources of information to determine the appropriate response to any given emergency. For instance, those who answer calls also are responsible for the intake and assessment of other information sources, including photos, videos from police and traffic cameras, and automated alarm and sensor data.

For many years, the public-safety community has been working to get the OMB to change the classification of telecommunicators to protective service but so far the OMB has declined to do so. In 2021, a provision that would have reclassified telecommunicators was removed from the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Find Rosenworcel’s full letter here.

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