GAO Departments drop major joint radio project
- By Alice Lipowicz
- Dec 15, 2008
The Homeland Security, Justice and Treasury departments have abandoned
their efforts to jointly develop the $10 billion Integrated Wireless
Network (IWN) nationwide radio system for federal agents, according to
a report from the Government Accountability Office.
departments are now pursuing separate updates to their radio systems, a
strategy GAO described as possibly inefficient and risky.
abandoning collaboration on a joint solution, the departments risk
duplication of effort and inefficient use of resources as they continue
to invest significant resources in independent solutions,” the GAO
report of Dec. 12 states. “Further, these efforts will not ensure the
interoperability needed to serve day-to-day law enforcement operations
or a coordinated response to terrorist or other events.”
joint network, which was to cost approximately $10 billion, had been in
development since 2004 and was intended to serve more than 80,000
federal agents. The project has been categorized as high risk by the
Office of Management and Budget. In April 2007, General Dynamics Corp.
was named the prime contractor.
In recent months, the
departments have determined that this specific system design cannot be
implemented on a nationwide scale, and they have not acted
collaboratively to identify an alternative approach, GAO said.
Justice and Treasury also have disbanded the formal IWN governance
structure and are not using the existing contract for IWN, the report
The effort failed in part because the departments did
not use good collaboration practices to overcome their different
priorities, GAO said. DHS’ priority was improving radio systems for
border patrol, while Justice’s was in other areas, the report said.
officials from both departments acknowledged that these differing
priorities led to an inability to resolve conflicts,” GAO said.
departments have made little or no progress on re-establishing a
governance structure for a new joint communications solution, the
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.