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

I fully support Art's comments below.

I must also inform you that this is one of the reason's why I did not  
recommend that NICTA continue its membership of OASIS.

Cheers...  Renato Iannella

On 15 Feb 2009, at 05:49, 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
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