OMB approval, issued in 2009, finally makes it into the Federal Register in 2012.

Back in 2008, the Commission devised the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) (a/k/a the “Personal Localized Alerting Network” (PLAN), a/k/a “Wireless Emergency Alerts” (WEA)).  It’s a voluntary service through which wireless providers deliver emergency alerts and warnings from FEMA to their customers.  The FCC came up with the CMAS at Congress’s direction in the Warning Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act.

As we reminded the CMAS universe last March, the Commission’s 28-month timetable for roll-out of the CMAS wrapped up on April 7, 2012.

Wrapped up? Well, not entirely, as it turns out . . . at least until now.

CMAS participants (i.e., wireless providers who have chosen to participate in the FEMA-FCC joint effort) are subject to record-keeping and information-sharing requirements, according to related rules adopted in 2008.  Under those rules, CMAS participants must receive and distribute monthly test messages sent from Federal Alert Gateway Administrator.  In order to ensure that the system is working properly, the wireless provider’s own gateway must send an acknowledgement to the Federal Alert Gateway upon receipt of these interface test messages. The provider must also maintain logs of these monthly tests.

As required by our old friend the Paperwork Reduction Act, such administrative burdens must be approved by the OMB, which they were – back in 2009.  But, presumably because the Commission’s 2008 orders setting up the CMAS provided that the testing and record-keeping requirements weren’t set to take effect until the CMAS’s full deployment, the effective date of those testing/record-keeping chores was put on ice for nearly three years. By the time the CMAS finally went live in April, 2012, the fact that OMB had signed off on the testing/record-keeping end of things three years earlier appears to have been overlooked. Whatever the reason, the Commission didn’t bother to issue a Federal Register notice of OMB’s 2009 approval, and as a result, the testing/record-keeping requirements didn’t kick in in April, along with the rest of the CMAS.

But they’ve kicked in now. A notice of OMB’s approval of those requirements has just now made it into the Federal Register, and they are now effective.