A failure to test and modernize the U.S. emergency alert system leaves doubt whether the president would be able to communicate with the American people during a terrorist attack or natural disaster, congressional investigators said Thursday.
A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) described the existing Emergency Alert System (EAS) as “antiquated” and “unreliable” and said that eight years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has made only “limited progress” in creating a system to replace it.
“Specifically, a lack of training and national-level testing raises questions about whether the relay system would actually work during a national-level emergency,” said the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress.
FEMA last tested the system, which uses radio and television stations to relay emergency information or a message from the president, during an earlier GAO investigation in 2007. Three of the 35 primary television stations failed to receive and rebroadcast the message because of hardware and software issues at that time, the report said.