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

Thanks Renato,

Good to know.


At 10:14 AM +1000 2/16/09, Renato Iannella wrote:
>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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Rex Brooks
President, CEO
Starbourne Communications Design
GeoAddress: 1361-A Addison
Berkeley, CA 94702
Tel: 510-898-0670

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