Public-safety organizations supporting the Congressional E-911 Caucus yesterday called for the U.S. Senate to fund grants as part of the Enhance 911 Act approved in 2004.

In a press conference on Capitol Hill, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO), the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and the E-911 Institute cited the importance of making matching grants available to pay for upgrades to public-safety answering points (PSAPs).

"Our goal must be to equip the nation's 911 network and call centers with the best technology available, enabling them to provide the service that citizens have come to expect when they dial 911,” NENA President Bill Munn said in a statement. “We applaud the leadership of the Congressional E-911 Caucus and ask Congress to give us the opportunity to improve our nation's 911 system by funding this vital legislation today."
Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), co-chair of the Congressional E-911 Caucus and co-sponsor of the Enhance 911 Act, echoed this sentiment.

"In an emergency, time is the most critical element in saving lives. E911 technology saves time and, therefore saves lives,” Burns said in a statement. “Lives will be saved from this funding and we're going to do all we can to make sure it happens."

Despite such efforts, no funding for matching grants has been appropriated to date, despite the fact that the Enhance 911 Act authorized $250 million annually to pay for PSAP upgrades during a five-year period.

“There’s a lot of push on a number of funding issues, but, unfortunately, we have not heard even a whisper of a plan to make any of that happen,” APCO President Wanda McCarley said.

McCarley also said APCO officials remain opposed to a NENA-supported proposal that would let the $1 billion earmarked for interoperability funding be used to pay for PSAP upgrades.

“We see the need to make sure that [funding] gets used in the very critical arena of radio interoperability,” McCarley said.