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National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications: A Summary

CRS Report for Congress
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
National Security and Emergency
Preparedness Communications: A Summary
of Executive Order 13618
Shawn Reese
Analyst in Emergency Management and Homeland Security Policy
September 19, 2012
Congressional Research Service
7-5700
www.crs.gov
R42740
National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications: Summary of EO 13618
Congressional Research Service
Summary
In the event of a national security crisis or disaster, federal, state, local, and territorial government
and private sector communications are important. National security and emergency preparedness
communication systems include landline, wireless, broadcast and cable television, radio, public
safety systems, satellite communications, and the Internet. For instance, federal national security
and emergency preparedness communications programs include the Government Emergency
Telecommunications Service, Wireless Priority Service, and classified messaging related to the
Continuity of Government Condition. Reliable and secure telecommunications systems are
necessary to effectively manage national security incidents and emergencies.
On July 6, 2012, President Barrack Obama issued Executive Order (EO) 13618 which addresses
the federal government’s need and responsibility to communicate during national security and
emergency situations and crises by assigning federal national security and emergency
preparedness communications functions. EO 13618 is a continuation of older executive orders
issued by other presidents and is related to the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. §606).
This executive order, however, changes federal national security and emergency preparedness
communications functions by dissolving the National Communications System, establishing an
executive committee to oversee federal national security and emergency preparedness
communications functions, establishing a programs office within the Department of Homeland
Security to assist the executive committee, and assigning specific responsibilities to federal
government entities. This report provides a summary of EO 13618 provisions, and a brief
discussion of its salient points.
National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications: Summary of EO 13618
Congressional Research Service
Contents
Introduction...................................................................................................................................... 1
Analysis of EO 13618...................................................................................................................... 2
NS/EP Communications Executive Committee ........................................................................ 2
Executive Committee Joint Program Office.............................................................................. 3
Specific Department and Agency Responsibilities.................................................................... 3
Summary of EO 13618 .................................................................................................................... 4
Conclusion ....................................................................................................................................... 7
Tables
Table 1. EO 13618 Summary........................................................................................................... 5
Contacts
Author Contact Information............................................................................................................. 8
National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications: Summary of EO 13618
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Introduction
Section 706 of the Communications Act of 1934,1 as amended by 47 U.S.C. §606, authorizes the
President, among other things, to address national security and emergency preparedness (NS/EP)
telecommunications issues and assign federal department, agency, and entity NS/EP
telecommunications responsibilities. On July 6, 2012, President Barack Obama issued an
Executive Order 13618 to assign those NS/EP communications functions effective immediately.2
Generally, EO 13618 states that the federal government must have the ability to communicate at
all times and under all circumstances. Specifically, the order outlines the federal government’s
need and responsibility to communicate during national security and emergency situations and
crises and provides direction for such communications.
The federal government uses numerous NS/EP communications systems and programs to
effectively communicate during incidents and emergencies. Some of these systems and programs
include the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS),3 Wireless Priority
Service (WPS),4 and classified messaging related to the Continuity of Government Condition
(COGCON). These systems and programs use both classified and nonclassified communications
systems to assist the national leadership, and affected entities such as state and local governments,
non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and the public, in communicating during
emergencies and crises. These communications systems are both federally and privately owned
and operated.
The 2010 National Security Strategy, the primary federal government guidance on national
security, reiterates the notion that reliable and secure telecommunication is necessary to
effectively manage emergencies,5 and that the United States must prevent disruptions to critical
communications.6
Following the enactment of the Communications Act of 1934, numerous Presidents have issued
executive orders addressing NS/EP communications. For example, in 1962 President John F.
Kennedy issued EO 10995 that assigned federal telecommunications management functions; in
March 1978, President Jimmy Carter issued EO 12046 that transferred certain federal
telecommunication functions; on September 13, 1982, President Ronald Reagan issued EO 12382
that established the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee; and President
William Clinton issued EO 12919 on June 3, 1994, that addressed national security
telecommunications related to national defense industry resources preparedness.
EO 13618, however, changes federal NS/EP communications functions by dissolving the
National Communications System (NCS), establishing an executive committee to oversee federal
NS/EP communications functions, establishing a programs office within the Department of
1 P.L. 416, 48 Stat. 1064.
2 For information on executive orders in general, see CRS Report RS20846, Executive Orders: Issuance, Modification,
and Revocation, by Todd Garvey and Vivian S. Chu.
3 For information on GETS, see http://gets.ncs.gov.
4 For information on WPS, see http://wps.ncs.gov/program_info.html.
5 Office of the President, National Security Strategy, Washington, DC, May 2010, p. 19.
6 Ibid., p. 50.
National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications: Summary of EO 13618
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Homeland Security (DHS) to assist the executive committee, and assigning specific
responsibilities to federal government entities. This report addresses EO 13618 salient provisions
and provides a summary of EO 13618.
Analysis of EO 13618
Three sections of EO 13618 affect the federal government’s NS/EP communications functions:
Section 3 “NS/EP Communications Executive Committee,” Section 4 “Executive Committee
Joint Program Office,” and Section 5 “Specific Department and Agency Responsibilities.” These
three sections direct federal department and agency actions. It appears as if DHS is assigned
increased NS/EP communications functions. Specifically, EO 13618 affects DHS by dissolving
NCS; creating a new committee, the NS/EP Communications Executive Committee and assigning
DHS the responsibility of co-chairing that committee with DOD; establishing and supporting the
Executive Committee Joint Program Office; and leading non-military federal department and
agency NS/EP communications activities. These changes are described in the next section.
NS/EP Communications Executive Committee
EO 13618 changes the management of federal NS/EP communications functions and activities by
dissolving NCS and placing NCS activities with the newly established NS/EP Communications
Executive Committee. The NCS was responsible for coordinating the planning of NS/EP
communications for the federal government under all circumstances, including crisis or
emergency, attack, recovery and reconstitution.7 Arguably, the Committee replaces NCS’s
Committee of Principles (COP) and COP’s Committee of Representatives, which were
responsible for coordinating the federal government’s NS/EP communications. It is possible,
though not stated, that the Committee will participate in industry-government planning that NCS
conducted with the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee8 because EO
13618 guidance (Sec. 3.3(g)) instructs the Committee to “enable industry input.”9 Again, this
executive order does not change existing NS/EP programs or their activities, however, it affects
the management of these programs.
The NS/EP Communications Executive Committee is the primary policy forum for addressing
national NS/EP communications issues. It is composed of Assistant Secretary-level
representatives. It is co-chaired by DHS and DOD and is responsible for advising the President on
enhancing NS/EP communications survivability and resilience. The Committee is directed by EO
13618 to develop strategy which includes funding requirements and plans. The Committee is the
primary federal entity responsible for NS/EP communications policy discussions. The Committee
is similar to other interagency policy committees formulated and established under the National
Security Council per PPD-1.
7 Specifically, the mission of the NCS is to assist the President, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security
Council, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget, in the coordination
of the planning for and provisioning of national security and emergency preparedness communications for the Federal
Government under all circumstances, including crisis or emergency, attack, recovery and reconstitution. For more
information visit their website at http://www.ncs.gov/faq.html#ncs
8 The National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee was established by EO 12382.
9 EO 13618, Sec. 3.3(g).
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DHS’s National Communications System (NCS) was tasked with a similar mission as that which
is assigned to the NS/EP Communications Executive Committee. In 1963, President John F.
Kennedy established NCS following the Cuban Missile Crisis and the issues associated with the
communications among the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1984, President Ronald
Reagan broadened NCS NS/EP capabilities and responsibilities with the issuance of EO 12472.10
Following 9/11 and the enactment of the Homeland Security Act, NCS was transferred to DHS.11
On November 15, 2005, NCS was internally transferred to DHS’s Directorate of Preparedness.
EO 13618, however, dissolves NCS by revoking EO 12472. DHS states that
Although many of the NCS programs will continue to support NS/EP communications,
oversight of these programs now fall to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of
Cybersecurity and Communications, part of the National Protection and Programs
Directorate (NPPD).12
The activities and responsibilities of the Committee are supported by the Executive Committee
Joint Program Office.
Executive Committee Joint Program Office
EO 13618 requires DHS to establish an Executive Committee Joint Program Office (JPO). JPO is
to support Committee activities. Even though DHS is to establish and administratively support
JPO, the Committee, as a whole, is responsible for providing JPO personnel. DHS, however, is
responsible for providing resources and funding to JPO.
Arguably, JPO will assume some of the former NCS’s day-to-day activities. JPO is specifically
required to coordinate programs that support NS/EP missions, priorities, goals, and policy, which
was the case for NCS. JPO is also required to support and convene governmental and nongovernmental
groups and meetings. Additionally, JPO is to coordinate activities and develop
policies for senior (Committee) official review and approval.13 One might expect, though the
executive order does not explicitly state, that the JPO would be managed, administered, and
staffed in a similar manner as the Homeland Security Operations Center which is a different
interagency entity that is managed, administered, and staffed by detailed personnel from
participating federal departments and agencies.
Specific Department and Agency Responsibilities
EO 13618 details federal department and agency responsibilities related to NS/EP
communications functions. The executive order specifically identifies Departments of Defense
(DOD), DHS, the Department of Commerce, the Administrator of General Services, the Director
of National Intelligence, and the Federal Communications Commission responsibilities. DHS,
however, is tasked with a significant portion of NS/EP communications responsibilities.
10 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Communications System, “Background and History of the NCS,”
Washington, DC, http://www.ncs.gov/about.html.
11 116 Stat. 2149.
12 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Communications System, “Background and History of the NCS,”
Washington, DC, http://www.ncs.gov/about.html.
13 EO 13618, Sec. 4.2.
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DOD is tasked with a continuation of its responsibilities in oversight of the development, testing,
implementation, and sustainment of NS/EP communications that directly affect the national
security needs of the President, Vice President, and senior national leadership. In addition, DOD
is now responsible for ensuring the security and survivability of this NS/EP communications.
DOD is also newly tasked with providing the Committee technical support and provide, operate,
and maintain communication services and facilities associated with the Intelligence Community
consistent with EO 12333.14 DOD has always been responsible for these responsibilities, EO
13618 reiterates this assignment of responsibilities.
DHS, like DOD, is tasked with overseeing the development, testing, implementation, and
sustainment of NS/EP communications associated with non-DOD communications systems or
responsibilities. This includes Continuity of Government (COG), and all levels of government
emergency preparedness and response, non-DOD communications systems, and critical
infrastructure protection networks. Similar to DOD, DHS is responsible for ensuring the security
and survivability of NS/EP communications. DHS is to provide technical support to the
Committee. As the lead federal agency, DHS is to receive, integrate, and disseminate NS/EP
communications information to other federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal governments to
establish a common operating picture and situational awareness. As stated earlier, DHS is to
establish the JPO and serve as the lead federal agency for the prioritization restoration of NS/EP
communications. Finally, within 60 days of the EO 13618 issuance, DHS is to submit a detailed
plan to the President that describes DHS’s organization and management structure for its NS/EP
communications functions due to NCS’s dissolution.15
The Commerce Secretary is responsible for providing advice and guidance to the Committee in
identifying and using technical standards and metrics for enhancing NS/EP communications.
Additionally, the Commerce Secretary is to develop and maintain radio frequencies as they relate
to NS/EP communications.
The GSA Administrator is to provide and maintain a common acquisition approach for federal
NS/EP communications. The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) may issue policy directives
and guidance deemed necessary to implement EO 13618. Finally, the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) is to continue its practice of licensing and regulating radio frequencies.16
Table 1 below provides more detailed information about the specific responsibilities.
Summary of EO 13618
Generally, EO 13618 states that the federal government must have the ability to communicate at
all times and under all circumstances. It assigns executive office responsibilities through
Presidential Policy Directive 1 (PPD 1).17 It establishes the NS/EP Communications Executive
Committee18 and the Executive Committee Joint Program Office.19 EO 13618 assigns specific
14 Ibid., Sec. 5.1. EO 12382 established the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee.
15 Ibid., Sec. 5.2.
16 Ibid., Sec. 5.3-5.6.
17 Organization of the National Security Council System, February 13, 2009.
18 EO 13618, Sec. 3.
19 Ibid., Sec. 4.
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and general federal department and agency responsibilities.20 Finally, it identifies previous
executive orders that are amended and revoked.21
Table 1. EO 13618 Summary
Section Summary
1: Policy Survivable, resilient, and secure domestic and international
communications are essential for the executive branch to
communicate with itself; the legislative and judicial branches;
state, local, territorial, and tribal governments; the private
sector; the public; its allies; and other nations. This
communication is necessary to ensure national security,
manage emergencies, and improve national resilience.
2: Executive Office Responsibilities Policy coordination, guidance, dispute resolution, and
periodic reviews of NS/EP telecommunications functions are
provided through the interagency process established in
PPD 1. The Director of the Office of Science and
Technology Policy (OSTP)a is assigned the responsibilities of
issuing an annual memorandum to the NS/EP
Communications Executive Committee; advising the
President on prioritization of the radio spectrum and wired
communications that support NS/EP functions; and accessing
information related to the test, exercise, evaluation of
existing and planned NS/EP communications systems.
3: NS/EP Communications Executive Committee The Committee addresses NS/EP communications issues. It
is comprised of Assistant Secretary-level, or equivalent,
representatives designated by the heads of the departments
of State, Defense, Justice, Commerce, and Homeland
Security; the Office of Director of National Intelligence; the
General Services Administration, and the Federal
Communications Commission. Other representatives may
be designated by the Committee. The Committee is cochaired
by the departments of Defense’s and Homeland
Security’s designees.
Generally, the Committee advises and makes NS/EP
communications policy recommendations to the President
on enhancing the survivability, resilience, and future NS/EP
communications architecture. This includes developing a
NS/EP communications strategic vision, coordinating the
planning of NS/EP communications for all hazards,
promoting NS/EP communications resilience and
survivability under all circumstances. Additionally, the
Committee is to recommend, to the President, plans to test,
exercise, and evaluate NS/EP communications capabilities
including remedial actions. Finally, the Committee is to
provide quarterly updates to the Assistant to the President
for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and the OSTP
Director on Committee activities, and enable private sector
and industry input.
20 Ibid., Sec. 5-6.
21 Ibid., Sec. 7.
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Section Summary
4: Executive Committee Joint Programs Office The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary is
to establish an Executive Committee Joint Program Office
(JPO) to provide full-time administrative support to the
Committee. The JPO will be staffed by detailed personnel
from agencies represented on the Committee. DHS is
responsible for providing resources to support JPO.
JPO is responsible for coordinating programs that support
NS/EP communications activities, priorities, goals, and
policy. Additionally, JPO is responsible for convening
Committee-designated governmental and nongovernmental
groups.
5: Specific Department and Agency Responsibilities The Secretary of Defense is to oversee the development,
testing, implementation, and sustainment of NS/EP
communications that are directly responsive to the nation’s
national security needs. These include communications with
or among the President, Vice President, White House staff,
heads of sate and government, and Nuclear Command and
Control leadership. Additionally, it includes Continuity of
Government (COG) communications. The Secretary of
Defense is to provide the Committee technical support to
develop and maintain plans for the security and protection
of NS/EP communications, and provide, operate, and
maintain communications systems and facilities consistent
with EO 12333.b
The Secretary of Homeland Security is to oversee the
development, testing, implementation, and sustainment of
NS/EP communications in support of COG; federal, state,
local, territorial, and tribal emergency preparedness and
response; non-military executive branch communications
and networks; and critical infrastructure protection
networks. The Secretary of Homeland Security is to
integrate and ensure the security, protection, and
interoperability of NS/EP communications. Additionally, the
Secretary is to provide technical support to the Committee
and receive, integrate and disseminate NS/EP
communications information to and from federal, state,
local, territorial, and tribal governments. The DHS Secretary
is to maintain a joint industry-government center that is
capable of assisting in the coordination and restoration of
NS/EP communications. DHS is to serve as the federal lead
for the prioritized restoration of communications
infrastructure. Finally, by September 6, 2012, the DHS
Secretary, in consultation with the Committee, is to develop
and submit a detailed plan on the department’s NS/EP
communication functions to the President.
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Section Summary
The Secretary of Commerce is to provide advice and
guidance to the Committee on the identification and use of
technical standards and metrics to enhance NS/EP
communications. The Commerce Secretary is to develop
and maintain radio frequency assignments, and administer a
system of radio spectrum priorities for those spectrumdependent
telecommunications resources belonging to the
federal government.
The Administrator of General Services is to provide and
maintain a common acquisition approach for the efficient
centralized purchasing of equipment and services to meet
NS/EP communications requirements.
The Director of National Intelligence (DNI), after
consultation with heads of affected agencies, may issue such
policy directives and guidance as the DNI deems necessary
to implement EO 13618.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is to
perform functions that are required by law in relation to
communications, and support the continuous operation and
restoration of critical communications systems and services
by assisting the DHS Secretary with infrastructure damage
assessment and restoration.
6: General Agency Responsibilities All agencies, to the extent consistent with law, are to
determine the scope of their NS/EP communication
requirements and provide this requirement information to
the Committee. Additionally, all agencies are to prepare
policies, plans, and procedures to meet the federal
government’s NS/EP communications needs. All agencies are
to propose initiatives that may benefit multiple agencies,
administer programs that support broad NS/EP
communications goals, submit annual reports to the
Committee on NS/EP communications, and provide the
DHS Secretary with timely reports on NS/EP
communications statuses.
7: General Provisions EO 13618 revokes EO 12472c and amends EO 12382.d
Source: CRS analysis of EO 13618.
Notes:
a. OSTP was established by Congress in 1976, 42 U.S.C. 79.
b. EO 12333, United States Intelligence Activities, December 4, 1981.
c. EO 12472, Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Telecommunications Functions,
April 3, 1984.
d. EO 12382, National Telecommunications Advisory Council, September 13, 1982.
Conclusion
EO 13618 is a continuation of presidential authority assigned in the Communications Act of
1934, and modifies or revokes other executive orders related to federal NS/EP communications.
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As identified earlier in this report, EO 13618 changes federal national security and emergency
preparedness communications functions by dissolving the National Communications System,
establishing an executive committee to oversee federal national security and emergency
preparedness communications functions, establishing a programs office within the Department of
Homeland Security to assist the executive committee, and assigning specific responsibilities to
federal government entities. Again, this executive order does not modify or end any NS/EP
communications systems or programs, instead it assigns the management and administration of
these systems and programs to specific federal departments, agencies, and entities.

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