Public-safety communications vendor M/A-COM yesterday expressed support for a bill introduced in the House that focuses on interoperable communications between emergency responders.

Known as the National Emergency Management Reform and Enhancement Act of 2006, the proposal is the result of work being conducted by the House Homeland Security Committee, according to M/A-COM. The committee has recognized the need for federal leadership to support interoperability efforts and provided deadlines to complete the standards-setting process.

M/A-COM Vice President John Vaughan said he is optimistic that the legislation will prove to be a step in the right direction for public-safety interoperability, particularly the acknowledgement of the need for the federal government to play a role in the process.

“Until this bill, most of the messaging that has come out from the federal government has been, ‘[Interoperability] is a local issue,’” Vaughan said. “But when a disaster like Katrina happens, people want help from the federal government. If the federal government’s going to help, you have to communicate and, in order to communicate, you have to interoperate.”

Draft legislation calls for the Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary for emergency communications to be responsible for taking action to make interoperability a reality.

“Even though we’ve funded interoperability, we haven’t got it,” Vaughan said. “This bill, I think, says that the federal government ought to do interoperability.”