Magazine article American Banker

Crisis Lines to Be Made Available to More Banks

Magazine article American Banker

Crisis Lines to Be Made Available to More Banks

Article excerpt

More financial institutions will have access to the government's emergency telephone lines under a Sept. 11-inspired initiative to protect the country's economic infrastructure during a crisis.

The Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee, a public-private group created last fall by the Bush administration, announced it has simplified the application process to encourage more participation by banks and other financial services companies.

Institutions with a national or large regional presence, and registered securities or futures exchanges, can join the program. Not all would qualify under the simplified process; an organization's eligibility would be determined by its role in the national economy.

The infrastructure committee's interim policy says that a company's primary federal regulator would "recommend federal sponsorship of institutions that it considers critical to the performance of national security or emergency preparedness functions necessary to maintain the national economic posture during a national or regional emergency."

The card allowing access to the emergency phone network would be issued to "key personnel with crisis management responsibilities or other senior management personnel responsible for carrying out communications during times of emergency," the interim policy states.

Established in 1994, the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (Gets) Card Program has provided emergency-phone-line access to government agencies and to hospitals and other private institutions considered vital to the national good.

Currently, interested parties apply directly to the National Communications System, which is made up of 22 cabinet departments and federal agencies. The system was created in 1963 by President Kennedy to administer emergency telephone systems after the United States, the former Soviet Union, and NATO had communications problems during the Cuban Missile Crisis. …

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