As ordered reported by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on January 24, 2017
S. 123 would require new telephone systems that have multiple lines to allow callers to access 9-1-1 services directly, without needing to dial any other numbers or codes. This requirement would apply to entities that manufacture, import, sell, lease, or install multi-line telephone systems, beginning two years after the date of enactment. Phones installed before that effective date would not have to be changed if the upgrade would require any improvement to the telephone system.
CBO estimates that implementing S. 123 would have no significant effect on federal spending for telecommunications services or regulatory activities. Pay-as-you-go procedures apply because the bill could affect direct spending by the Postal Service, federal power agencies, and federal financial regulators, as well as revenues remitted by the Federal Reserve; however, CBO estimates that any such costs would be negligible. CBO estimates that enacting S. 123 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.
According to a 2016 report by the General Services Administration, federal phone systems serve about 4 million employees. Based on information from telecommunications service providers and federal agencies, CBO estimates that most of the government’s multi-line phones (excluding those with national security protections) already are capable of dialing 9-1-1 services directly. Because upgrading the remaining phones would involve improvements that qualify for the exemption in S. 123, CBO expects that any costs to upgrade federal telephone systems would not be significant.
On the basis of on an analysis of information from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), CBO estimates that implementing S. 123 would increase the costs of the FCC’s regulatory and enforcement programs by less than $500,000. However, under current law, the FCC is authorized to collect fees sufficient to offset the costs of its regulatory activities each year; therefore, CBO estimates that the net effect on discretionary spending for the FCC would be negligible, assuming appropriation actions consistent with that authority.
S. 123 contains intergovernmental and private-sector mandates, as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). Based on information about current industry practices and about the existing scope of similar state requirements, CBO estimates that the aggregate cost of the mandates would fall below the annual threshold established in UMRA for private-sector mandates ($156 million in 2017, adjusted annually for inflation). CBO estimates that the intergovernmental mandate would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
The bill would impose private-sector mandates by requiring private entities responsible for manufacturing, importing, selling, leasing, or installing a multi-line telephone system (MLTS) to ensure that the system allows users to dial 9-1-1 directly without first dialing any additional digit such as “9.” In addition, entities that install such systems would have to ensure that MLTS systems provide an additional notification to a central location, either at the facility or otherwise, when a 9-1-1 call is placed if the system can be configured to do so without technical upgrades. Based on information from industry sources, most MLTS systems already are configured to meet these requirements. In addition, several states and some local governments already have laws that require direct dialing for 9-1-1 from MLTS systems. Therefore, the incremental costs associated with updating systems to meet the bill’s requirements would be small.
The bill would preempt state laws that govern the default configurations of a multi-line telephone system for 9-1-1 phone calls. Although the preemption would limit the application of state laws and regulations, CBO estimates that the mandate would impose no duty on state, local, or tribal governments that would result in additional spending or a loss of revenues.