Working With Government Organizations
An MOU provides a framework for cooperation and coordination with agencies to which we as radio amateurs provide communication services. At the national level, this means periodic headquarters-toheadquarters contact to exchange news, views, information, and points of contact in the field. The idea is to get to know one another on a face-to-face basis, so that when an emergency happens you know who to call and who you can count on.
At the local level, an MOU serves two purposes. First, it's a door opener. A new ARES group is more likely to be heard and taken seriously by a local National Weather Service (NWS) office when accompanied by a copy of the National agreement. The served agency says, in effect, we have examined this organization of radio amateurs and have found them to be trustworthy and able to render substantial and needed services for our field operations in times of emergency. The agency head is telling its field offices, "Go get 'em - they are good for us."
Secondly, once your foot is in the door, the provisions of the MOU document spell out the capabilities and organization of the servers (us), the organization and needs of the served agency (them), and the methods of operation. These are broad guidelines that lead to the establishment of a local memorandum of understanding or similar document that sets forth the detailed operational plans and policies to be subscribed to by both parties during drills, and actual events.
The most important step here is to ensure that both parties to the local agreement have a realistic assessment of the resources brought to the table by the servers, and the needs of the served. Please contact your ARRL section leaders or ARRL Headquarters if you have questions about local or national-level MOUs. More information and the text of our various MOUs may be found online at www.arrl.org/FandES/field/mou.
Working with government organizations
A local ARES group may sign a Memorandum of Understanding with a local government agency or the MOU may be between an ARRL section to the state government. This document, signed by both you and the government organization, clearly and specifically lays out the framework of your working relationship with one another. An MOU is not required of a local ARES group to complete their mission.
An agreement with a local government organization doesn't have to be a formal affair. Rather, it is an agreement between the volunteers and the government organization about what type of work is needed.
All levels of government may need to work with you and your organization on their response to an emergency situation. In this case, state government leaders may want to work with the ARRL field leadership to determine the role and mission of the volunteers within an emergency plan. Local ARES groups work with local governments. Section ARES groups work with state or county governments. ARRL works with the federal government.