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Financial Institution Letter
SUBJECT: Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee's Interim Policy on the Sponsorship of Private Sector Financial Institutions in the GETS Card Program 

On July 22, 2002, the Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee (FBIIC), a standing committee of the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, issued the attached interim policy on the sponsorship of private sector entities in the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS) Card Program. The interim policy states the circumstances under which qualifying private sector financial institutions may request federal sponsorship in the program.

The GETS Card Program is a telecommunications voice service that supports federal, state, and local government; industry; and nonprofit organizations by providing emergency access and priority processing for voice communications services in the local and long-distance segments of the publicly switched network (PSN). The program is administered by the National Communications System and is intended to be used in an emergency or crisis situation when heavy usage of the PSN by organizations and the public decreases the probability of completing a call.

The attached interim policy explains the GETS Card Program in more detail, sets out the criteria that FBIIC-member agencies will use to determine whether a private sector financial institution qualifies for federal sponsorship, and explains how FDIC-supervised financial institutions may submit applications for sponsorship. Generally, financial institutions that perform national security or emergency preparedness functions essential to the maintenance of the nation's economic posture during any national or regional emergency will qualify for program sponsorship. The FBIIC agencies view maintenance of the nation's economic posture as the minimization of systemic disruption to the financial system directly related to the operation of critical financial markets and related essential services and systems. Factors that the FBIIC agencies will consider in determining whether individual organizations play a significant role in an essential market, service or system include consideration of whether the organization:

(1) is a registered securities or futures exchange, self-regulatory organization, registered securities clearing agency/depository and futures clearinghouse, or serves as a critical service provider or utility to one of these organizations; 
(2) acts as market utility for effecting payments or clearance and settlement of transactions; 
(3) processes a large aggregate value of daily payments; 
(4) provides critical services or systems to financial institutions; 
(5) has a national or large regional presence in one or more product lines; or 
(6) demonstrates other facts or circumstances that suggest facilitating the organization's access to the GETS priority service in times of national emergency would serve to maintain the national economic posture.

Private sector financial institutions may request GETS Cards by submitting an application to their primary federal regulator. Institutions should limit GETS Cards requests to key personnel with crisis management responsibilities or other senior management personnel responsible for carrying out communications during times of emergency. The primary federal regulator will recommend federal sponsorship of institutions that it considers critical to the performance of national security or emergency preparedness functions necessary to maintain the national economic posture during a national or regional emergency. 

FDIC-supervised financial institutions should submit applications for sponsorship to:

Mr. Michael B. Benardo 
Chief, Electronic Banking Branch 
Division of Supervision and Consumer Protection 
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation 
550 17th Street, NW 
Washington, DC 20429

The FDIC will review all applications received and forward qualifying applications to the U.S. Department of the Treasury with an endorsement for federal sponsorship. Approved financial institutions will then be contacted regarding the mechanics of setting up a GETS Card account and using GETS Cards. 

Clearly, not all financial institutions will qualify for sponsorship in the program under the interim policy. The FDIC will consider applications for sponsorship from any FDIC-supervised financial institution that substantiates its qualifications under one or more of the criteria described in the interim policy.

For further information, please contact Michael B. Benardo, Chief, Electronic Banking Branch, Division of Supervision and Consumer Protection, at 202-898-7319 or via e-mail at

Michael J. Zamorski



Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee’s Interim Sponsorship Policy 

Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee Request for GETS Sponsorship HTML | Word (37 KB File - Microsoft® Word Help file) 

Distribution: FDIC-Supervised Banks (Commercial and Savings)

NOTE: Paper copies of FDIC financial institution letters may be obtained through the FDIC's Public Information Center, 801 17th Street, NW, Room 100, Washington, DC 20434 (800-276-6003 or (703) 562-2200).

Last Updated: August 6, 2002