Oversight

IG wants Secret Service to modernize its radio gear

Shutterstock. Copyright: David Stuart Productions

A recent audit by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general recommends that the U.S. Secret Service upgrade the radio systems used around the White House, the vice president's residence and foreign embassies.

The IG said the radios, which are the Secret Service's primary means of communication, are old and in some cases obsolete. "Not upgrading these systems could significantly impact the effectiveness of Secret Service's protective operations," the report states.

Although 97 percent of the 186 radio tests the IG observed were successful, a review of the Secret Service's Radio Trouble Log revealed more than 100 instances of technical issues in an 11-month period.

"Secret Service's top priority, protecting the president and other high-ranking national officials, allows no room for error, and this means its technology cannot fail," the report states.

The audit specifically notes that when multiple officers tried to use their radios at the same time, the transmissions disrupted one another and resulted in incoherent or unheard messages. In those situations, officers would have to wait their turn for air time.

The systems also lack the ability to successfully interoperate with those used by other law enforcement agencies, restricting the ability for efficient coordination.

Additionally, repairing the aging infrastructure could be difficult because manufacturers no longer make important components of the radio network.

The Secret Service concurred with the recommendations and plans to invest about $54.2 million to improve its communication systems in the Washington area.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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