Justice casts line for wireless system

The Justice Department intends to pump $500 million into developing a wireless network that will enable its six branches to share information.

If all goes well, the department could have a joint wireless communications system in place before the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City — one of the aims of the wireless plan.

The network, which will have a mix of land mobile radio and commercial support services, will link the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Prisons and the Office of the Inspector General.

The system envisioned by Justice also can be expanded to enable other agencies to share the network, officials have said. As far back as 1998, Justice's chief information officer noted that the system operating at the Olympics in 2002 could also link state and local public safety agencies.

A request for proposals, describing to potential vendors what the Justice Department is looking for in terms of wireless services, was issued Feb. 16. The cost is estimated at $500 million.

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