9/11 bill sets credentialing requirements

The 9/11 Commission bill passed by the Senate last week sets up new credentialing requirements for millions of first responders across the country, among its IT-related provisions.

The legislation, formally titled the "Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007," also strengthens federal relationships with state and local intelligence fusion centers, establishes a grant program for interoperable communications, creates a national biosurveillance integration center and authorizes $3.3 billion for rail and transit security.

The bill has passed both houses of Congress, and awaits President Bush's signature to become law.

Several sections of the bill refer to credentialing, including provisions related to credentials for first responders and a section on a pilot project in Washington State for an enhanced driver's license that also can serve as a border crossing card.

The bill calls for the Homeland Security Department to collaborate with state governments, along with other state and local response agency representatives, to create national standards for credentialing response personnel. The standards should include minimum qualifications and training and a description of the specific function to be performed. The appropriate state and local authorities should test their personnel and issue credentials, and pass the information on to DHS.

If the bill becomes law, DHS would have to create a documentation and database system to maintain the credentials. Federal coordinating officers and other incident commanders would be able to use the information during a disaster response, and the system could regulate access to the disaster site.

Separately, the bill includes a section on a law enforcement biometric credential to be issued to federal air marshals and other law enforcement officers who need to be armed when traveling by air.

The credential must incorporate biometric technologies and must coordinate with credentials under Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12.

Also, the bill requires that the Transportation Security Administration submit a report on its efforts to credential airline, airport and flight crew representatives.

The bill includes language related to the DHS pilot project in Washington State involving development of an enhanced driver's license that can serve as a border crossing card under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

Within 180 days of initiation of the program, Secretary Michael Chertoff must submit to Congress a report that details the impact of the pilot project on national security; recommendations on how to expand the program to other states; a plan to scan individuals participating in the pilot program against terrorist watch lists; and a recommendation on technology.

The technology recommendation pertains to the machine-readable technology on the card. The choice should be based on "individual privacy considerations and the costs and feasibility of incorporating any new technology into existing driver's licenses," the bill reads.

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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