FCC commissioners today announced the launch of a new Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau focused on addressing the communications needs of the nation’s first responders.

Charged with heading the commission’s efforts on public-safety issues such as spectrum policy, E-911, interoperability and completion of the 800 MHz rebanding project, the new bureau is operational as of today with 90 employees, an FCC spokesperson said.

Although many of those working in the bureau already were part of the FCC, the establishment of the bureau is “much more than a reshuffling of resources,” Commissioner Michael Copps said, adding that the creation of the bureau is long overdue.

“As I have said many times, business as usual is just not acceptable when it comes to public safety,” Copps said during today’s commission meeting. “To put it bluntly, I believe this is a step we should have taken more than five years ago in response to the searing lessons of 9/11. ... My hope is that when history looks back on this reorganization, it will be seen as the first step in putting the FCC out front – where it long should have been – in providing communications security for all Americans in this dangerous age.”

Ken Moran, the deputy bureau chief for the public communications and outreach division, will serve as acting chief of the new bureau until Chairman Kevin Martin announces a permanent chief. In addition to its policy responsibilities, the bureau will serve as a clearinghouse of information that can be used by first-responder agencies while making communication infrastructure decisions.

During a press conference after the commission meeting, Moran said he does not believe there will be much confusion regarding the jurisdiction of the new bureau and other existing agency bureaus.

“Anything that’s public-safety-license related, we’ll take the lead on,” he said. “Of course, we’ll have to do a lot of coordinating with [other bureaus] on spectrum issues.”

Lisa Folkes and Dana Schaeffer will serve as deputy chiefs of the new bureau’s policy and communications systems analysis divisions, respectively. Joe Casey and David Furth will be associate bureau chiefs, with Furth being charged with the “timely completion” of the 800 MHz rebanding project, Moran said.