First Observer security training classes and other program functions have been placed on hold until new funding is provided by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
HMS Co. President Charles Hall made the announcement to First Observer affiliates in a letter last week. HMS, which has administered the program since September 2008, hasn’t received funding for it beyond Nov. 30.
“Regretfully, on this date, the HMS program support will come to an end,” Hall wrote. “As such, it is necessary for us to implement new operating procedures until the program has been funded again by TSA.”
First Observer program calls should now be directed to (877) 847-5510. E-mails should go to FirstObserver@tsa.dhs.gov.
All First Observer classroom training, including train-the-trainer classes, has been placed on hold. Membership cards and certifications have also been placed on hold.
Hall said that the First Observer website and the Information Sharing and Analysis Center website would not be accessible after Dec. 7. (However, they were still accessible as of Monday afternoon.)
Hall noted that TSA has said that First Observer will be active again in the near future. He also thanked those who have participated in the program.
“You have played a major role in helping to protect our nation from those who are actively seeking to bring down our national infrastructure,” Hall wrote. “We believe that collectively with your support, we have made a difference in the fight against terrorism.”
Earlier this year, Hall reported that more than 45,000 pupil transportation professionals had been trained in School Bus First Observer.
Last year, TSA sent a DVD with the School Bus First Observer and School Transportation Security Awareness programs to around 15,000 public school districts, urging administrators to use it for in-service training.