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Article posted Nov 15 2012, 12:54 PM Category: Big Brother/Orwellian Source: Techdirt Print

Homeland Security Spent $430-Million To Tune Its Radios To A New Frequency, And Failed

by Mike Masnick

The incompetence of Homeland Security when it comes to actually doing things is well documented -- though, they're often so clueless that they take credit for successfully misleading Congress about their own failings. So I guess it should come as little surprise that a new report shows that DHS spent about $430 million of your taxpayer dollars to get all of its radios to communicate on the same frequency and it doesn't work. At all.
Of 479 radio users the DHS inspector general tested, only one knew how to tune into the common channel, the report stated. Personnel either were unaware the channel existed, could not find it, or switched to an outdated channel inherited from the Treasury Department.

“Personnel do not have interoperable communications that they can rely on during daily operations, planned events and emergencies,” acting IG Charles K. Edwards wrote in the report.
So what was the problem? Apparently no one in top management at DHS ever thought to tell the various departments that they should be using this common channel that they were spending so much money on getting ready for this usage:
The root of the disconnect, according to the report, is top department leaders have provided little guidance and no enforcement to ensure personnel use the channel. The shift to a single frequency began when the department formed in 2003.

“Components independently developed and managed their own radio programs with no formal coordination from DHS,” and as a result, “internal interoperability was not a priority for DHS components,” Edwards reported.
The report suggested that there should be someone in charge of actually coordinating all of this (what an idea!), but DHS officials shot back that they already have a "Joint Wireless Program Management Office." Of course, this only makes the situation worse, in that they basically admit that they have an entire office set up to work on this issue... and it's now apparent that the office did little to nothing in terms of actually accomplishing what needed to be accomplished. The author of the report pointed out that it's a bit silly to point to the office that failed to do its job as proof that they're now ready to deal with this issue.

So, in a normal business, when you screw something up this badly, people get fired. Lots of them. Who's getting fired for this? Shouldn't the head of DHS have to answer to the public as to why $430 million was spent under what appears to be totally incompetent management? What are they doing over there other than seizing domains and making up terrorist plots?

In the meantime, can we get our $430 million back?





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