dhs radios waste

Homeland Security spent $430M on radios its employees don't know how to use Only one of 479 employees surveyed could operate rad

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/11/homeland-security-spent-430m-on-radios-its-employees-dont-know-how-to-use/

Homeland Security spent $430M on radios its employees don't know how to use
Only one of 479 employees surveyed could operate radio correctly.

by Theodoric Meyer, ProPublica - Nov 21 2012, 4:50pm EST
GOVERNMENT

Getting the agencies responsible for national security to communicate better was one of the main reasons the Department of Homeland Security was created after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

But according to a recent report from the department's inspector general, one aspect of this mission remains far from accomplished.

DHS has spent $430 million over the past nine years to provide radios tuned to a common, secure channel to 123,000 employees across the country. Problem is, no one seems to know how to use them.

Only one of 479 DHS employees surveyed by the inspector general's office was actually able to use the common channel, according to the report. Most of those surveyed—72 percent—didn't even know the common channel existed. Another 25 percent knew the channel existed but weren't able to find it; 3 percent were able to find an older common channel, but not the current one.

The investigators also found that more than half of the radios did not have the settings for the common channel programmed into them. Only 20 percent of radios tested had all the correct settings.

The radios are supposed to help employees of Customs and Border Patrol, the Transportation Security Administration, the Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Secret Service, and other agencies with DHS communicate during crises, as well as normal operations.

DHS officials did not immediately respond to questions from ProPublica about what effect the radio problems could have on how the agency handles an emergency.