After 9/11, three federal law enforcement agencies planned a massive project to replace a mishmash of aging and obsolete radios used by thousands of federal agents. A decade and $356 million later, the program has made “minimal progress” and the Department of Homeland Security, one of the project’s key partners, wants little to do with it.
That’s all according to an audit by the Justice Department’s inspector general, following interviews with officials from the FBI to DHS and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, among others. The DOJ’s investigators found the project — dubbed the Integrated Wireless Network — to be at “high risk for failure” because of shifting priorities, costly delays and frequent changes in leadership at top DOJ posts. Likewise, federal budget cuts could put the program on the chopping block.
The audit warns: “As a result, law enforcement and emergency personnel will continue to use inadequate, incompatible, and outdated equipment, resulting in slower operation response times and potentially jeopardizing the lives of law enforcement and emergency personnel and the people they have sworn to protect.”