The Federal Communications Commission released its third annual report regarding states that have diverted any portion of the 911 fees they collect for purposes other than 911 programs. The 3rd Annual Report to Congress on State Collection and Distribution of 911 and Enhanced 911 Fees and Charges was submitted to Congress on Nov. 1. The information contained in it is based on information provided to the Commission by states and U.S. territories regarding their collection and expenditure of fees or charges to support 911 or Enhanced 911 (E-911) services. This year’s report identifies seven states that, in part, used some portion of 911 fees for non-911 purposes in 2010.
National organizations representing the public safety and wireless industries released the following statements in response to the report.

From APCO International President Gregg Riddle:
“APCO International strongly believes that raiding 911 fees jeopardizes public safety’s ability to acquire and implement existing, as well as new and emerging, technologies necessary to continue receiving and responding to emergency situations and providing essential emergency services to citizens.

“We must ensure that public safety has the funds it needs not only to answer 911 calls, but to take action and dispatch emergency services to calls for help in critical situations. We recognize the fact that many States and local communities are facing tough economic times and large budget deficits, but we caution that this is not a reason to be penny wise and pound foolish by depleting funds that are essential to 911 and emergency communications operations.”

From CTIA-The Wireless Association’s Vice President of External and State Affairs Jamie Hastings:
“Every day, 396,000 911 calls are made on wireless devices. With almost 30 percent of wireless-only Americans, mobile consumers pay more than $2 billion a year for their states’ 911 funds to ensure our nation’s first responders are properly equipped to handle wireless distress calls. Wireless carriers are required to provide truthful descriptions of the line items on their customers’ bills; state governments should be held to the same standard.

“Even though the number of states that are poaching from the 911 funds has declined, it is gravely disappointing to see states blatantly ignore what is best for their citizens and first responders. CTIA and the wireless industry remain ardent supporters of the public safety community and are committed to working with Congress and the FCC to stop states from misappropriating these funds.”

From National Emergency Number Association President Rick Galway, ENP:
“Lives are saved every day thanks to America’s 911 system. Decades of government leadership and steady technological progress have given citizens a reliable 911 system they can trust. In return, citizens trust their state and local governments to responsibly manage the funds collected to pay for 911 systems. Misuse of 911 funds not only puts one of the nation’s most critical systems at risk; it also breaks the trust established with the public.

“Unfortunately, some state and local governments continue to see 911 revenues as a funding source for other programs. Funds the public remits in good faith specifically for 911 purposes must be used to further 911’s most basic purpose: to ensure that 911 callers can quickly be located in emergency situations and receive an effective emergency response. NENA encourages Congress, the FCC, and leaders in all fifty states to take action to end the practice of redirecting 911 fee revenues and ensure 911 systems have the funding necessary for the technological upgrades necessary to keep pace with consumer expectations and enable the seamless sharing of voice, text, video, and other data between citizens, 911 centers, and first responders.”

From iCERT-The Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies’ Executive Director George Rice:
“Our nation’s 9-1-1 professionals make technology investment decisions every day. The resources available to them sit as a guide for these decisions as they look to improve their systems and ensure effective deployment of emergency services.

“Assurance of funding for 911 services and necessary enhancements is a critical component for planning at the agency and jurisdiction levels. When these funds are diverted, planning becomes far more reactionary and less strategic, thus diminishing the effectiveness of our nationwide emergency response infrastructure.

“The Industry Council stands fast with our state and local government partners, and with allied associations, in our collective efforts to garner and safeguard the resources required to deliver emergency services to those in need.”