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Subject: Re: [emergency] Objections to DHS-Dictated Material in the IPAWSProfile Draft

Thanks Art,

I was hoping that you would put forth your arguments clearly and 
cogently and you have done so. I consider this a service to us all, 
and encourage everyone to think through these issues. I also hope 
that advocates of the other viewpoint(s) take this opportunity to 
make their arguments.


At 11:49 AM -0800 2/14/09, Art Botterell wrote:
>Friends -
>If you look at this 71-page document you'll see that almost two-thirds
>of it isn't OASIS work-product at all.  The actual draft Profile,
>including an appendix created by the CAP Profiles Subcommittee, makes up
>only 25 pages.  The other 46 pages, Appendix B, are actually a
>separate--and in many ways contradictory--document created by the U.S.
>Department of Homeland Security. 
>I believe that including that non-OASIS content in our draft for public
>review is unnecessary, confusing, risky and ultimately damaging to the
>credibility of the OASIS process and this Technical Committee.  I also
>believe it's against the public interest, as I'll discuss in a moment.
>It's UNNECESSARY because the same DHS document is already referenced and
>linked in section 1.5, "Non-Normative References," along with several
>other references that weren't included in full.  There is no need under
>the OASIS process for us to include this language in full either.  For
>simplicity, if for no other reason, we shouldn't obfuscate our document
>with a large block of redundant material, particularly if we're serious
>about seeking meaningful public review and comment.
>It's CONFUSING because although the DHS material purports to be a
>requirements document, it's actually written in the form of a fairly
>detailed specification, one that contradicts the draft OASIS Profile on
>a number of very significant points and goes far beyond it on others.
>Putting that conflicting material in an appendix and labeling it
>non-normative can't offset the overwhelming fact that it still would
>comprise the largest part of the document.   And including a mass of
>extraneous and inconsistent material in the draft can't help but muddy
>the public comment process.
>It's RISKY because we're being drawn into uncharted legal and procedural
>waters. The traditional role of OASIS has been to generate voluntary
>standards that folks can use or choose not to use.  But here we're being
>asked by DHS/FEMA to conduct what they've told us on several occasions
>they plan to treat as the public review component of a federal
>regulatory process, one that will have significant financial and
>political implications on a number of industries, jurisdictions and
>other stakeholders.  That's a very different activity, and not one I
>think most OASIS members contemplated when they joined the organization.
>  Although we may hear opinions on the subject, the fact is that we
>simply can't know what sorts of liabilities, legal expenses or other
>ramifications might arise from such an undertaking, not only for OASIS
>but also for the individual members of this TC.
>And it's potentially DAMAGING to OASIS and the OASIS standards process
>because it creates an appearance that OASIS and particularly the
>Emergency Management Technical Committee are no longer independent and
>honest arbiters but now merely agents of the U.S. government.  (That
>impression can only be deepened by the fact that the chair and most of
>the members of the CAP Profiles Subcommittee... and many if not most of
>the active members of the EM TC... are themselves DHS/FEMA contractors
>or subcontractors.  And further, that OASIS itself has entered into a
>side contract with DHS.)  We've historically heard complaints from
>international members that this TC is excessively U.S.-oriented; we
>don't need to add fuel to that fire.
>So why is Appendix B in there?  Not in support of the OASIS process,
>clearly.  It's there, I'd suggest, because OASIS has been recruited,
>perhaps unwittingly, into a radical experiment in the privatization of
>federal regulation launched under the previous Administration.  And that
>experiment is now being pressed headlong to completion before the new
>Administration has a chance to consider it.
>That's a strong claim, I know, and the mechanics of such things may be
>unfamiliar to many OASIS members, so please bear with me while I expand
>on it a bit.
>The C
>AP IPAWS Profile will ultimately be binding on the radio, TV,
>satellite, cable and cellular telephone industries, among others, and on
>state and local jurisdictions nationwide.  Historically, such federal
>regulations have gone through mature and well-defined procedures for
>open public comment and review managed, in this particular subject area,
>by the Federal Communication Commission.
>However, in June 2006 an Executive Order (EO 13407) made the Department
>of Homeland Security the lead agency for public warning, with the FCC,
>NOAA and other federal agencies tasked to support DHS.  Being quite a
>young federal agency, as such things go, DHS... of which FEMA is now a
>department... has not had time to develop fully its own processes for
>developing regulations.
>In the case of the cellular alerting program (and with a bit of prodding
>by way of congressional legislation) DHS partnered with the FCC in 2007
>and 2008 to conduct an advisory committee process followed by two cycles
>of rulemaking with formal public comment and reply-comment processes.
>But in the case of IPAWS, which is meant to integrate multiple public
>warning systems (EAS, cellular, NOAA Weather Radio and others) into a
>single coordinated national capability, DHS has taken a different and
>much less collaborative approach.  They've hired contractors, most of
>them with little or no experience in public warning, and developed a
>detailed set of technical specs, and then pressed OASIS to cover those
>specifications with a veneer of public review by slipping it into our
>document as an appendix.
>Meanwhile, DHS has proceeded separately through its "Practitioner
>Working Group" to solicit comments on... and thus build stakeholder
>investment in... their own version of the Profile.  So it seems
>reasonable to question whether DHS actually is committed to the OASIS
>process, or whether they may simply be using OASIS to create, if not a
>rubberstamp endorsement of their own agenda, then at least an illusion
>of public and expert review of a document we've actually found to have a
>number of serious shortcomings. 
>In short, we need to consider the possibility that OASIS is being used
>in an attempt to shortcut the regulatory process and reduce the
>transparency of government.
>The justification that we're including this appendix as "a service to
>the users" is both transparent and irrelevant.  Including an appendix
>that explicitly contradicts the actual OASIS recommendation is hardly
>doing anyone a service.  And in any event, nothing prevents DHS from
>publishing any additional information it deems beneficial or necessary
>by its own means.  Ultimately the CAP Profile will only be one part of
>the regulatory framework required for IPAWS.
>In summary, then:  There's no compelling reason under the OASIS process
>for including the confusing, contradictory and extraneous material in
>Appendix B, and a number of important reasons not to. 
>I hope you'll join me in acting prudently on Tuesday to remove this
>unnecessary appendix from the draft before it hopelessly confuses the
>public review process and perhaps permanently damages our reputations as
>advocates of an open standards process.
>And there's no need for haste here, except perhaps on the part of some
>of the DHS bureaucracy.  The IPAWS program has been ongoing for at least
>four years; we've been involved for less than ten weeks.  And DHS
>representatives have already advised us that they plan to come back with
>amended or additional requirements in the foreseeable future.  So please
>don't be swayed by any implication that we're somehow obliged to release
>this document prematurely.
>- Art
>To unsubscribe from this mail list, you must leave the OASIS TC that
>generates this mail.  Follow this link to all your TCs in OASIS at:

Rex Brooks
President, CEO
Starbourne Communications Design
GeoAddress: 1361-A Addison
Berkeley, CA 94702
Tel: 510-898-0670

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