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Rep. Bennie Thompson pushes small business usage of PS-Prep program
|Rep. Bennie Thompson|
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who will soon relinquish the chairman’s gavel at the House Homeland Security Committee, has weighed in on the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to establish rules for the voluntary accreditation of private sector companies for their homeland security preparedness activities.
In a letter sent Nov. 15 to FEMA’s office of the chief counsel, Rep. Thompson said his committee supports the voluntary Private Sector Accreditation and Certification Preparedness Program, nicknamed PS-PREP, and particularly the department’s efforts to enhance the portion of the program focused on small businesses.
“Participation in PS-Prep will undoubtedly help small businesses mitigate the impacts of a disaster on employees and customers, enhance the likelihood of the business’ survival in the event of a disaster, and help bring about a culture of resiliency in diverse communities throughout the nation,” wrote Thompson.
The Mississippi congressman went on to say that because many small businesses do not have the resources to make planning a top priority, it was important that PS-Prep be “user-friendly” and involve “minimal costs for small businesses.”
“If cost is found to be the major prohibitive factor in PS-Prep enrollment, particularly for those small businesses voluntarily seeking an independent third-party validation,” Thompson continued, “DHS should look to provide additional assistance to increase small business participation.”
Thompson noted that “self-certification” by individual businesses is vital, but that DHS must nonetheless monitor the program carefully in order to “protect the value of the program for all certified businesses.”
Rep. Thompson further recommended that DHS should provide easily accessible technical assistance, online training courses and Internet tools to help small businesses participate in PS-Prep.
Finally, the chairman offered DHS a few ideas on more effective branding. “DHS should also look to add value to the term ‘PS-Prep certified,’ by making it a widely recognized standard, much like the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ‘100% Organic’ label or the Better Business Bureau (BBB) accreditation seal,” wrote Thompson.