S. 2693 would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in consultation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to adopt regulations to:
Ensure subscribers to commercial mobile services receive emergency alerts from FEMA,
Require State Emergency Communication Committees (SECCs) to review and update their Emergency Alert System (EAS) plans each year and submit those plans to the FCC for approval,
Establish a system to collect false alert reports under the EAS or Wireless Emergency Alert System, and
Modify the EAS to allow repeating messages from the President or FEMA while an emergency persists.
S. 2693 also would require the FCC to study the feasibility of providing EAS alerts through internet-based applications. Finally, the bill would require FEMA to issue guidance on how state, local, and tribal governments can participate in the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System.
CBO assumes that S. 2693 will be enacted in fiscal year 2020. Using information from the affected agencies, CBO estimates that it would cost the FCC $2 million over the 2020-2025 period to implement the bill. However, because the FCC is authorized to collect fees each year sufficient to offset the appropriated costs of its regulatory activities, CBO estimates that the net cost to the FCC would be negligible, assuming appropriation actions consistent with that authority. CBO also estimates that it would cost FEMA $1 million over the 2020-2021 period to assist the FCC with rulemaking and to develop the required guidance, subject to the availability of appropriated funds.
The bill contains intergovernmental and private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). CBO estimates that the aggregate cost of the intergovernmental and private-sector mandates would fall below the UMRA thresholds ($84 and $168 million in 2020, respectively, adjusted annually for inflation).
Providers of commercial mobile services would be prohibited from allowing consumers to decline emergency alerts sent to their mobile device as issued by FEMA. That prohibition would impose a private-sector mandate. Providers of commercial mobile services currently offer the ability to decline emergency alerts from FEMA as an additional service to their customers; CBO expects the cost to eliminate that service would be small.
If the FCC increases annual fee collections to offset the costs of implementing provisions in the bill, S. 2693 would increase the cost of an existing private-sector mandate on entities required to pay those fees. Using information from the FCC, CBO estimates that the incremental cost of the mandate would be small. The bill would require SECCs to meet annually to review and update their state’s EAS Plan.
Each SECC also would be required to verify their meeting with the FCC. Requirements on SECCs would impose an intergovernmental and private-sector mandate because SECCs are overseen by and composed of individuals in the public and private sectors. Because most SECCs currently meet at least annually to amend their state’s EAS plans, the incremental cost of the mandate would be small.