Amendment calls for missing persons database

The Homeland Security Department would be required to set up a new IT system and database for tracking missing persons and reuniting families following major disasters under an amendment approved by the Senate last week.

Following Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, thousands of friends and family members seeking lost loved ones posted notices on Internet bulletin boards as well as paper notices on street poles and buildings. Several post-Katrina electronic family tracking systems were deployed in September 2005 by organizations and individuals, including the Red Cross and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

The amendment requiring the agency to take on those responsibilities was introduced by Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn. It was approved by the Senate last week to be included in the fiscal 2007 Homeland Security Department appropriations bill. The legislation still must be reconciled with the House version, and then the final bill must be passed by both chambers to become law.

The Senate also approved amendments in the bill to add $648 million for port security and $350 million for border security; keep FEMA within the department; tighten rules for no-bid contracting for Gulf Coast reconstruction; and delay implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative border crossing requirements for 17 months.

The Senate also considered, but failed to pass, a measure to dramatically increase funding for rail security.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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