Bush orders agencies to define use of radio spectrum

President Bush issued a memorandum yesterday directing executive departments and agencies to better manage their current and future radio spectrum use.

The memo sets deadlines for agencies to submit their requirements and planned uses for electromagnetic spectrum. The current legal and policy spectrum 'has not kept pace with the dramatic changes in technology and spectrum use,' the memo said.

'Under the existing framework, the federal government generally reviews every change in spectrum use,' Bush said in the memo. 'This process is often slow and inflexible, and can discourage the introduction of new technologies.'

That scenario prompted Bush to establish the Spectrum Policy Initiative last year and to direct the Commerce secretary to make recommendations on ways to improve spectrum management. The Commerce Department established a Federal Government Spectrum Task Force and held a series of public meetings seeking input to improve policies affecting spectrum use.

In June, Commerce released Spectrum Policy for the 21st Century'The President's Spectrum Policy Initiative, which outlined its recommendations.

Bush's memo forces agencies to implement the recommendations.

Under the directive, the Office of Management and Budget has six months to provide guidance to agencies on how they can improve capital planning and investment control to better identify spectrum requirements and the cost of investments in spectrum-dependent programs and systems.

Other agencies, such as the Agriculture, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior and Transportation departments, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, OMB and the Attorney General, have a year to develop a comprehensive Spectrum Needs Plan to address issues related to communication spectrum used by the public safety community.

Commerce ultimately will integrate the agency plans into an overarching Federal Strategic Spectrum Plan.

A Defense official applauded the president's memo.

'Frequency spectrum is a national asset, a resource that's critical to DOD's operations. It needs to be protected,' said Badri Younes, director of Defense spectrum management. 'We need to ensure that this national asset remains viable as we rely more and more on IT to enable our warfighters to do their mission.'

'This shows the administration is committed to major reform,' Younes said, and 'has a healthy respect for the importance of spectrum and IT altogether.'

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