After IWN's cancellation, DOJ continues to push for radio modernization


A post-Integrated Wireless Network Justice Department continues to push for a modernized land mobile radio network, telling Congress that it needs at least $268 million for a plan that relies heavily on legacy infrastructure.

In a report (.pdf) to Congress sent earlier this year obtained in redacted form by FierceGovernmentIT through a Freedom of Information Act request,  Justice officials say their new approach to LMR network modernization hinges on utilizing existing state radio systems "where appropriate" and "emphasizing the sharing and consolidation of legacy component radio systems."

IWN, Justice's ambitious program to create a nationwide land mobile radio system lost funding in fiscal 2012 after having been built only within the national capital region and the states of Washington and Oregon. Justice auditors estimate IWN has cost $356.7 million since 1998, although DOJ estimates are lower.

The new approach of combining DOJ component radio operations onto a shared system and partnering with state and local agencies will require $122 million for infrastructure modernization and $146 million to buy handsets, the report states.

The report suggests that Congress could pass new legislation allowing Justice to receive money from auctions of federally-licensed radio spectrum. The Federal Communications Commission is looking for high-value spectrum to sell to the private sector, the report notes, and that could affect Justice-held licenses.

With the proceeds of spectrum auctions to fund LMR network mobilization, Justice "would be able to fund-in part or in whole-implementation of its modernization plan" the report says.

Auditors said earlier this year that federal law enforcement's need for an upgrade to legacy systems isn't in doubt, citing facts such as the U.S. Marshals Service's primary reliance on FBI land mobile radio system sites. That led to a situation in Virginia in which an FBI telecommunications manager required his Marshals counterpart to ask daily for permission to use the system, and led to an incident in which the FBI kicked off its LMR network five Marshals radios in order to clear up network congestion.

For more:
- download the DOJ IWN report to Congress (.pdf)

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DOJ's IWN faces cancelation