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September 13, 2013

Report: DHS Needs to Fix and Improve Radio Program

(WASHINGTON) – The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) released a report on radio management at DHS entitled "DHS Needs to Manage Its Radio Communication Program Better" (OIG-13-113). The report found that DHS's management of its radio communications program is ineffective. DHS currently manages approximately 200,000 pieces of radio equipment and 3,500 radio infrastructure sites – together valued at $1 billion. Most of this equipment is held by CBP, ICE, USSS and are used by 120,000 agents and officers. Despite this vast network, DHS does not have a program in place to keep track of inventories department-wide – and, similarly, component agencies have different inventory systems which are often unreliable or inaccurate. As a result, components cannot determine if equipment is assigned or warehoused – and therefore cannot make efficient investment decisions or share unused equipment with other components.

The IG also found that DHS lacks effective governance to guide investment decisions when purchasing equipment. This finding appears to echo concerns raised by the IG regarding the lack of a strong governance structure for communications policy and guidance at the Department in its November 2012 report that found DHS lacked cross-component interoperable communications capability (DHS's Oversight of Interoperable Communications, OIG-13-06). Without proper governance and inventory management, all cost savings gained from a recent radio modernization strategic source contract worth $3 billion will be lost. The IG submitted two recommendations, which DHS concurred with, to address inventory management and to centralize authority at DHS.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the below statement on the report:

"I am troubled that DHS lacks an adequate management and inventory system for its radio communications program. I am not surprised, however, given last year's report that despite investing over $430 million in communications, the Department lacks much-needed interoperability. Efficient, cost-effective, interoperable communications are critical to the DHS mission. That is why I'm supporting Ranking Member Payne's legislation to require the Department to develop a strategic plan for achieving cross-component interoperability and improve management of radio assets at the Department."

Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications, added the following statement:

"I have repeatedly expressed my concerns about the lack of interoperability at DHS, yet time and again the Department has failed to put into action an acceptable solution to this problem. Most troubling is that while interoperability is achievable, DHS completely lacks an effective management structure to direct and enforce policies and guidance to accomplish its goals. Emergency communications equipment is critical to DHS' mission. The OIG report proves that a strong governance structure is a critical necessity. That is why I will introduce legislation requiring the Department to resolve the issues that have blocked Department-wide interoperable communications, and require DHS to produce a strategy for achieving interoperability and improved communications asset management. Without a clear strategy, DHS will not only continue down the path of fiscal waste but will also fail to accomplish its communications goals."

Link to Report

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Media Contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978