Understanding our Memoranda of Understanding
One of the premier justifications for continued access to the Amateur Radio spectrum is public service. A major part of Amateur Radio's public service and emergency service activities is conducted in the context of the ARRL's formal agreements with the emergency management, emergency service and public service communities. Let's take a brief look at each of these agencies, and-- from the Amateur Radio operator's perspective -- our "method of operation" under each of our national-level formal agreements, a.k.a. Memoranda of Understanding (MOU).
The ARRL enters into memoranda of understanding with other organizations when there is a mutual benefit to be gained. An MOU provides a framework for cooperation and coordination with governmental and non-governmental agencies to which radio amateurs provide communication services, or with whom we cooperate in serving the public. The MOU sets out broad guidelines and expectations of the two organizations. Sometimes a national level MOU can provide the basis for local memoranda of understanding at the working level, i.e. at the Section or local level of the ARRL field organization.
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 office when accompanied by the agreement document signed by the head of the agency. The served agency says, in effect, that 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.
Secondly, the Memorandum of Understanding spells out the capabilities and organization of the servers (the Amateur Radio operators), the organization and needs of the served agency, and the methods of operation. These are broad guidelines that may lead to the development of a local memorandum of understanding or similar document that sets up detailed operational plans and policies to be followed 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.
Get more information on Served Agencies and Partners and their MOUs.