Progress Report on Development of the Integrated Wireless Network in the Department of Justice

Audit Report 07-25
March 2007
Office of the Inspector General

Appendix 9
Justice Management Division
Response to the Audit Recommendations

March 8, 2007
U. S. Department of Justice

Washington, D.C. 20530

Inspector General

FROM: /s/ Lee J. Loftus
Assistant Attorney General
    For Administration

SUBJECT: Response to the Office of the Inspector General's (OIG) Draft Report: Progress Report on Development of the Integrated Wireless Network in the Department of Justice

This responds to the Office of the Inspector General's (OIG) Draft Report: Progress Report on Development of the Integrated Wireless Network in the Department of Justice.

Recommendation 1: Department of Justice (DOJ) reach an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of the Treasury Secretaries that reflects each agency's commitment to the Integrated Wireless Network (IWN) project. This agreement should explicitly state the shared goals, responsibilities, and resource contributions and funding requirements of the sponsoring departments.

Response: DOJ is currently working with DHS and Treasury to update and modify the IWN Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This updated MOU will clearly define the responsibilities, resources, and funding requirements for each department and reflect the shared goals and commitments each agency has to the IWN program.

As part of this process, the Wireless Management Office (WMO) program management staff has re-examined the MOU and remains committed to a joint IWN program with the acquisition goals agreed to in the original IWN MOU and acquisition strategy. In an effort to reconcile differences between the departments, senior program managers from DOJ, DHS, and Treasury have been meeting over the past few months. The DOJ Chief Information Officer (CIO) intends to meet with the CIOs from DHS and Treasury in the near future to bring a resolution to these issues.

Recommendation 2: If the departments are unable to reach agreement on a unified approach, we recommend that the DOJ notify Congress and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that the IWN project is not viable as a joint project with DHS, and that the three Departments are pursuing their own IWN strategy to meet their wireless communications requirements.

Response: If it becomes clear that the departments are unable to reach agreement on a unified program approach, DOJ will be ready to notify OMB and Congress that IWN is not viable as a joint program with DHS. As part of our program planning and risk management, we are formulating plans that will allow DOJ to move forward with the IWN program as a single department program or as a joint program with Treasury.

Based on component inputs, we have prioritized the top five DOJ IWN service areas for IWN system implementation. The WMO is generating an acquisition strategy and program plan that will meet these requirements. The Department will refine its plans based on final decisions on the partnership between DOJ and DHS.

Recommendation 3: In addition, if DOJ is unable to reach agreement on a unified approach with DHS and Treasury, the DOJ should develop and implement a departmental plan to upgrade its legacy wireless communications systems.

Response: The WMO is working with the components to establish practical plans for upgrading component legacy systems in concert with whatever long-term plan the Department decides upon for the IWN.

If a unified approach is not settled with DHS, DOJ is supportive of the development of the Justice Wireless Network (JWN). A JWN steering committee or board composed of communications program managers from each component, with support from the DOJ WMO, would be effective in promoting equal representation with the Department and would ensure that operational requirements are met. The current relationship and accomplishments of the United States Marshals Service (USMS)/ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) consolidation effort could serve as a model of what all components can accomplish with mutual cooperation and support from the Department.

Recommendation 4: Require the Assistant Attorney General for Administration to ensure that an agreement is reached that allows DOJ to continue its wideband operations on very high frequencies without interference.

Response: The Department has been discussing this issue with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and will continue to work with the NTIA to reach a practical plan that allows DOJ to continue its operations without risk while making due progress on meeting the narrowband mandate. The Department has scheduled a meeting for March 30, 2007, with the Commerce Assistant Secretary John Kneuer, to brief on the status of the IWN program and DOJ's plans for addressing the narrowband mandate.

The Office of the CIO offers an additional comment related to a statement made on page 38 of the report that reads:

Despite over 6 years of development and more than $195 million in funding for IWN apart from one pilot system DOJ law enforcement agents have received little in the way of new, secure, compliant radio equipment through the IWN.

While the IWN program has clearly not progressed as rapidly as desired by the Department, the statement above is not an accurate reflection of what the Department has achieved. The Department believes that the OIG report should recognize the accomplishments of the program, including the following:

1. The Department has purchased and provided to the components 32,506 new digital portable and mobile radios;

2. The Department implemented 12 federal interoperability channels in 10 cities that
allow DOJ agents to communicate with their counterparts in other federal, state and local agencies.

3. The IWN acquisition strategy has yielded unprecedented competition for tactical
wireless communications (where little existed before). This competition has resulted in
new ideas and options for DOJ to solve its communications requirements. The competition also has helped to accelerate the development of industry standards for radio systems, which should reduce unit prices for radio equipment. The Department has seen clear evidence of this during the design competition that we conducted as part of Phase 3 of the IWN acquisition process. Finally, both vendors participating in the design competition have showed the Government working prototypes of inter-system gateways. These gateways were developed with IWN in mind, but will be useful to the public safety community nation-wide.

4. The Department has gained a much better understanding of the wide array of potential security issues incumbent with the new wireless communications technologies, and has worked proactively with industry to resolve these issues.

If you have any questions concerning this subject, please contact Vance E. Hitch, Chief Information Officer, on 202-514-0507 or Michael D. Duffy, Deputy Chief Information Officer, on 202-305-4568.

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