Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4), Vice Chairman of the Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications (E.P.R.C.), today joined Chairwoman Susan W. Brooks (IN-5), Ranking Member Donald Payne (D-NJ10), and Rep. Eric Swallwell (D-CA15), in introducing the Social Media Working Group Act of 2014. The bill, H.R. 4263, would expand the membership of the Department of Homeland Security’s Virtual Social Media Working Group to include representatives from the private sector. It would also require the group to file a yearly report with Congress.
“Social media has played a crucial role in emergency preparedness and response in Mississippi, including during disasters like Hurricane Isaac and the tornadoes that hit the Hattiesburg area a little over a year ago,” Palazzo stated. “Our goal is to build upon existing public-private partnerships and use social media in a more strategic way in order to help save lives and property.”
The Virtual Social Media Working Group has held meetings since 2012. By asking the group to file a yearly report with Congress, the legislation ensures members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate have an opportunity to review findings and address areas of need. It will also ensure local officials receive more information on using social media to effectively disseminate critical information.
The legislation expands the diversity of voices providing expertise and offering solutions. In addition to the current chair of the working group – the D.H.S. Under Secretary for Science and Technology – the new working group will be co-chaired a by a state or local official. The bill also requires members from the working group to come from outside of the federal government. This will include representatives from state or local government, non-profit disaster relief organizations, academia and the private sector.
The new working group is required to hold its first meeting within 90 days of the enactment of the legislation. Its yearly report must address several factors including best practices, recommendations for improving the use of social media and information sharing, and a review of the training available on using social media.