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Title 47

Displaying title 47, up to date as of 9/23/2021. Title 47 was last amended 9/23/2021.

Title 47

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Sec. 606, 48 Stat. 1104; 47 U.S.C. 606, E.O. 10705, 3 CFR, 1954-1958 Comp. E.O. 10995, 3 CFR, 1959-1963 Comp., President's Memorandum of August 21, 1963; 3 CFR, 1959-1963 Comp., p. 858; E.O. 12046, 43 FR 13349, Mar. 29, 1978.


43 FR 50434, Oct. 30, 1978, unless otherwise noted.

§ 213.0 Authority.

(a) The voice and message precedence procedures for departments and agencies of the Federal Government prescribed by this part are prescribed pursuant to Executive Order No. 12046 (43 FR 13349 et seq.) and the President's memorandum of August 21, 1963, which established the National Communications System (28 FR 9413; 3 CFR, 1959-1963 Comp., p. 858).

(b) The procedures applicable to communications common carriers and non-Federal Government users prescribed by this part are prescribed by authority conferred upon the President by subsection 606(a) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and delegated to the National Security Council by Executive Order 12046. That authority under section 606(a) may be exercised only during the continuance of a war in which the United States is engaged.

§ 213.1 Background and purpose.

(a) The National Security Council and the Federal Communications Commission have agreed upon a precedence system for the expeditious handling of messages and calls transmitted over Government and public correspondence facilities in all types of situations from peacetime to massive nuclear attack. Effectuation of that system requires that the Director issue a circular and that the Commission concurrently issue an order prescribing the standards, procedures, policies, and regulations that together, constitute this single integrated precedence system.

(b) In conformity with that agreement the National Security Council is issuing this circular the purpose of which is to prescribe, on behalf of the President, that part of those standards, procedures, policies, and regulations which are within the cognizance of the NSC. No significance should be attached to the fact that slightly different terms are used in their circular from those used in the companion order of the FCC. Those differences result from differences in terms in the basic legal authorities of the director and the Commission rather than from an intent to denote a distinction in purpose or effect.

§ 213.2 Scope.

The precedence system contained herein is applicable to:

(a) Users of Government service facilities, whether owned or leased.

(b) Users of public correspondence service facilities of the communication common carriers, to U.S. domestic and international communication common carriers, and to the extent possible by agreement between the latter and their foreign correspondents.

§ 213.3 Cancellation.

This circular cancels:

(a) Attachments A and B to Annex 3 of DMO 3000.1, dated November 8, 1963 (28 FR 12273).

(b) That portion of the memorandum of the Special Assistant to the President for Telecommunications, dated August 27, 1964, pertaining to message precedences.

§ 213.4 Definitions.

As used herein:

(a) Public correspondence services means those services offered to the general public for communications between all points served by a carrier or by interconnected carriers on a nonexclusive message by message or call by call basis, as differentiated from leased private line services.

(b) The term precedence means the order in which messages and calls are processed. Transmission of information and call completion is therefore to be accomplished in the order required by the precedence designator. Any such properly categorized communications precede noncategorized communications.

(c) The term Government where used alone means Federal, foreign, State, county, or municipal government agencies. Specific reference will be made whenever it is intended to apply to less than the whole, e.g., State Government, Federal Government, etc.

(d) The term Foreign Government includes those foreign diplomatic and consular establishments and those coalitions or associations of governments such as NATO, SEATO, OAS, UN, and associations of governments or governmental agencies such as Pan American Union, International Postal Union, International Monetary Fund, and similar organizations.

(e) The term message means a written or other form of record communication prepared for transmission and delivery at the destination.

(f) The term call means a request from a user for a connection to another station whether for telephone or record communication.

§ 213.5 Precedence designators.

(a) The following precedence designators are available for Government and public correspondence users:

Federal Government Domestic public correspondence and international telephone calls
Flash Flash emergency.
Immediate Immediate emergency.
Priority Priority emergency.
Routine (No domestic equivalent.)

(b) Government and non-Government users of public correspondence services will handle their international messages in accordance with current ITU Telegraph Regulations. Government users should note that, generally, the only precedence designator available for their use for international messages sent over public correspondence circuits if Etat Priorite. The ITU Regulations do not contain precedence designators which equate to Flash, Immediate, or Priority. Accordingly, Government messages whether Flash, Immediate, or Priority precedence when sent over international public correspondence circuits will be handled as Etat Priorite messages. Thus, Priority messages will receive the same treatment in transmission and processing as Immediate or Flash messages. Conversely, Etat Priorite messages received in the United States shall be transmitted and processed in the order of receipt, to the extent possible. The precedence designator available for non-Government users of public correspondence services is Urgent. The Urgent designator is limited for use only during wartime conditions, as declared pursuant to section 606 of the Communications Act of 1934.

(c) Domestic and International U.S. common carriers, insofar as practicable by agreement with their foreign correspondents, shall endeavor to arrange the proper level of precedence handling of international messages and calls originating, terminating in, or transiting the United States: Provided, however, That insofar as international messages are concerned the level of precedence shall be consistent with the International Telecommunication Conventions and regulations thereunder.

(d) The Government designators shall be used throughout the Federal Government. All messages and telephone calls sent via public correspondence services shall use domestic or international public correspondence designators as appropriate. Thus, the responsibility is on Government and public correspondence users to recognize and use the appropriate designators when using public correspondence services.

(e) On international telephone calls the carrier's operator will convert to the appropriate international designator.

§ 213.6 Criteria.

(a) Flash, Flash Emergency.

(1) This is the highest order of precedence and shall be strictly limited to Federal and Foreign Government agencies.

(2) Flash, or Flash Emergency telephone calls or messages shall be handled in the order received and ahead of all calls or messages except as indicated for international messages in ITU Regulations. When necessary to obtain a circuit for a Flash, or Flash Emergency call any call in progress of a lesser precedence will be interrupted, if feasible. Any message of a lesser precedence in the process of transmission will be halted, if feasible, to clear the channel for the Flash or Flash Emergency transmission. Flash or Flash Emergency precedence shall be reserved for calls and messages having an immediate bearing on:

(i) Command and control of military forces essential to defense and retaliation.

(ii) Critical intelligence essential to national survival.

(iii) Conduct of diplomatic negotiations critical to the arresting or limiting of hostilities.

(iv) Dissemination of critical civil alert information essential to national survival.

(v) Continuity of Federal governmental functions essential to national survival.

(vi) Fulfillment of critical U.S. internal security functions essential to national survival.

(vii) Catastrophic events of national or international significance, such as Presidential Action Notices essential to national survival during attack or preattack conditions.

(b) Immediate, Immediate Emergency, Urgent. Immediate, Immediate Emergency, or Urgent telephone calls or messages shall be handled as fast as possible and ahead of all other calls or messages except those having a higher precedence. Any message or call of a lower precedence in the process of transmission will be halted, if feasible, to clear the channel for this transmission. It will be reserved generally for calls or messages pertaining to:

(1) Situations which gravely affect the security of national and allied forces.

(2) Reconstitution of forces in a postattack period.

(3) Intelligence essential to national security.

(4) Conduct of diplomatic negotiations to reduce or limit the threat of war.

(5) Implementation of Federal Government actions essential to national survival.

(6) Situations which gravely affect the internal security of the United States.

(7) Civil defense actions concerning direction of our population and its survival.

(8) Disasters or events of extensive seriousness having an immediate and detrimental effect on the welfare of the population.

(9) Vital information having an immediate effect on aircraft, spacecraft, or missile operations.

(c) Priority, Priority Emergency, Urgent. Priority, Priority Emergency, or Urgent messages and calls shall take precedence over messages or calls designated Routine, or in the case of common carriers, over all nonprecedence traffic. Priority, Priority Emergency, or Urgent precedence is generally reserved for calls or messages which require expeditious action. Examples are calls or messages pertaining to:

(1) Information on locations where attack is impending or where fire or air support will soon be placed.

(2) Air-ground integrated operations.

(3) Important intelligence.

(4) Important diplomatic information.

(5) Important information concerning the launch, operation, or recovery of spacecraft or missiles.

(6) Movement of naval, air, and ground forces.

(7) Coordination between governmental agencies concerning the performance of emergency preparedness functions.

(8) Major civil aircraft accidents.

(9) Maintaining the public health, safety, and the welfare of our population.

(10) Critical logistic functions, provisions of critical public utility services, and administrative military support functions.

(11) Distributing essential food and supplies critical to health.

(12) Accomplishing tasks necessary to insure critical damage control functions.

(13) Preparations for adequate hospitalization.

(14) Continuity of critical Government functions.

(15) Arranging minimum transportation for accomplishing the aforesaid functions.

(16) Continuing or reestablishing our more important financial, economic, health, and safety activities. Producing, procuring, and distributing food materials and supplies which are considered necessary to the immediate support of a war effort, the national defense, or for expediting the means of meeting the effects of natural disasters.

(17) Prompt delivery of information by press representatives to news media organizations and newspapers covering news of national or widespread disasters.

(d) Routine; no domestic equivalent. Routine precedence designation applies to those normal day-to-day communications which require rapid transmission by telephone or message, but do not require urgent or preferential handling.

§ 213.7 Policies.

(a) Calls and messages in each precedence classification above shall have no precedence over others within the same classification, except where, within the same classification, they cannot be handled simultaneously. Then, they shall be handled in the order of their receipt.

(b) Individuals whose requirements qualify them to use the precedence system share the responsibility for insuring its effectiveness. Users must familiarize themselves with the purposes to be served by the use of each precedence designator. It must be remembered that the entire system will operate successfully only if the use of the precedence designator is limited strictly to the intended purposes. Each user must consider whether each message or call requires any special precedence and exercise care not to specify a higher precedence than circumstances require.

(c) For public correspondence message services, the domestic or international precedence designators shall be shown in full by the sender as the first word preceding the name of the addressee.

(d) For public correspondence call services, the user should first attempt to complete the call in the normal manner. In the event the user is unable to complete the call and the type of communication falls within one of the precedence categories listed herein the call should be filed with an operator for completion and the user must specify the required precedence handling by stating that this is a Flash Emergency, Immediate Emergency, or Priority Emergency call, whichever the case may be.

(e) Any apparent misuse of precedence indicators by non-Federal Government activities brought to the attention of the communication common carriers shall be referred to the FCC on and after-the-fact basis.

(f) Any apparent misuse by Federal Government activities brought to the attention of the communication common carriers shall be referred to the Executive Agent, National Communications System. The Executive Agent will refer any matter which cannot be resolved with the cognizant Government activity to the National Security Council, for decision.

(g) It is essential to provide public message and call capability for the transmission of military, governmental, and essential non-Government precedence messages and calls. Private line services for military, governmental, and other essential users are protected under a Priority System for Intercity Private Line Services promulgated by the FCC (FCC Order 67-51) and the National Security Council. However, during national emergencies, military, governmental, and other essential users will have additional requirements for prompt completion of precedence traffic over public correspondence communication common carrier facilities. Therefore, notwithstanding the provisions of the above-described Priority System for Intercity Private Line Services, communication common carriers shall have available a minimum number of public correspondence circuits at all times so as to provide for the transmission of precedence type messages and calls. Normally, the communication common carriers shall use their judgment in determining this number of circuits required for public correspondence precedence traffic. However, the authority is reserved to the National Security Council or the Federal Communications Commission, as appropriate to the time and situation, to revise the decisions of the carriers respecting the allocation of circuits, and to resolve any questions which are referred to them by the carriers or the users.

§ 213.8 Implementation.

Federal departments and agencies are authorized to issue such additional orders as are necessary to effect implementation of this circular.