FCC Chairman Kevin Martin last month proposed the establishment of a new bureau within the commission focused on public safety and homeland security after commissioners listened to three hours of testimony about communications struggles related to Hurricane Katrina.

Commissioner Michael Copps applauded Martin's proposal, noting that the FCC had waited “too long” to take action to fulfill its national-security obligations granted under the 1934 Communication Act. Copps had proposed the creation of such an FCC bureau during a keynote speech at the conclusion of last month's Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials annual conference in Denver — a speech delivered just days before Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S.

“In addition to working on specific interoperability and redundancy challenges, this bureau should serve as convener, facilitator and expediter, helping local public-safety organizations share ideas, prepare plans, vet proposals and coordinate them with both government and industry,” Copps said. “Why should every jurisdiction across this broad land have to start at square one when others have already done a lot of work?”