From the ARRL Letter, July 3, 2008
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 27, No. 26
July 3, 2008
==> ARRL TELLS RED CROSS OF REMAINING BACKGROUND CHECK POLICY CONCERNS
ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, has written to Armond T. Mascelli,
Vice President for Domestic Disaster response for the American Red Cross
(ARC) to identify the ARRL's remaining concerns over the background
check policy for ARC partners. Harrison emphasized that the commencement
of negotiation of a replacement Statement of Understanding (SOU) between
the two organizations should not be further delayed while these concerns
are resolved and that he looked forward to signing a new SOU once
additional edits to the background check Disclosure Form and
clarifications of the background check Authorization Form are in place
for those radio amateurs who volunteer their service to the Red Cross.
Harrison first wrote to Mascelli on November 28, 2007, setting out the
ARRL's concerns with the background check procedures recently
implemented by the ARC. ARC now requires a background check for Amateur
Radio volunteers seeking to support a Red Cross disaster relief response
for more than a seven day period. In the ARRL's view, Amateur Radio
volunteers were being asked to consent to a more intrusive background
check than was necessary or appropriate.
Mascelli's reply on May 8, 2008, addressed some of the ARRL's concerns
and Harrison's latest letter to the ARC -- sent on June 30, 2008 --
recognizes considerable improvement in the forms related to the
background check procedures that are linked via the ARC's Web site;
however, Harrison also states that analysis of the forms has revealed
two continuing problems:
* The Authorization for Background Investigation consent form still
contains "some highly equivocal and broad language which, because of its
ambiguity, will inevitably discourage substantial numbers of radio
amateurs from participating in the background check process." This form
was not included with Mascelli's reply and was not seen by the ARRL
* The "Disclosure Regarding Background Investigation" can still be
construed as overly broad, although this can be corrected by fairly
Harrison told Mascelli, "We do not want the implementation of these
additional changes to further delay the negotiation of the terms of a
replacement SOU. A new SOU is, in my view, a critical and urgent matter.
Because the old SOU expired on September 16, 2007, the vacuum thereafter
has served neither ARRL nor ARC well." ARRL and ARC staff are ready to
work on a draft replacement SOU, the text of which will be reviewed by
the ARRL's Programs and Services Committee and approved by either the
Executive Committee or the Board prior to completion.
Harrison concluded, "We look forward to continuing to provide seamless
disaster response communications by Amateur Radio and to enhancing and
expanding ARRL's proud partnership with the American Red Cross. I look
forward to meeting with you and executing the new SOU once additional
edits to the Disclosure Form, and adequate clarifications are included
in the Authorization Form that appears on your web site for partner
organizations are made, and when the new SOU terms are agreed upon."
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