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Secretaries Gutierrez and Chertoff to Annouce Nearly $1 Billion in Grants for First Responder Communications

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez
Remarks at Press Conference to Announce $1 Billion
Public Safety Interoperable Communications Grant Program
U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C.
July 18, 2007

Thank you, John. Thank all of you for being here.

I especially want to welcome my colleague Secretary Chertoff and our special guests today, the heroes, who are the first responders in times of disaster.

I'd also like to acknowledge the efforts of Chairman Inouye and Vice Chairman Stevens in the Senate, and Chairman Dingell and Ranking Member Barton in the House for their efforts in Congress to secure the vital funds we are announcing today.

Throughout our nation, there are more than two-and-a-half million public safety personnel. We saw their courage and sacrifice on 9/11. We see it in the news when there are fires or accidents or natural disasters.

One of the lessons learned from tragic events like 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina is the urgent need for fire fighters, police, and other first responders to be able to communicate effectively with one another.

Today we are announcing a nearly $1 billion Public Safety Interoperable Communications Grant Program authorized by Congress. These are targeted federal grants, specifically designated by Congress to fund interoperability.

The purpose is to help state and local public safety agencies fill interoperability gaps and enhance their ability to communicate when responding to hazards.

We are also announcing the funding allocations for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the four U.S. territories. Information on allocations and grant kits are now available on-line at Commerce.gov and DHS.gov.

We'll receive and review the applications, and announce the funding in September.

The Department of Commerce and the Department of Homeland Security are working together on this program. And I want to thank our National Telecommunications and Information Administration and DHS's Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The ability to communicate with other public safety agencies is a critical tool for first responders who are on the front line of man-made or natural disasters. These grants will help communities and regions close the communication gaps for these courageous public servants.

Thank you.

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