FBI Voice Privacy:

Update on Program Direction

IMTEC-88-39: Published: Aug 30, 1988. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Voice Privacy Program, focusing on: (1) the original and revised approaches to the system's integration; (2) the impact of the redirection on program costs and milestones; and (3) program issues for congressional consideration.

GAO found that: (1) in October 1986, FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Marshals Service decided to emphasize radio interoperability rather than full integration, citing an insufficient number of available radio frequencies as a key factor; (2) in July 1987, FBI began to implement a cross-banding approach for joint operations with DEA; and (3) DEA plans to install dual-band radios in all resident office vehicles and in all metropolitan area field divisions. GAO also found that FBI: (1) removed the Service from the program, since the Service preferred to continue independent operation of its internal radio system and had no need for joint radio communications; (2) did not enhance or connect its microwave system nationwide due to budget constraints, but continued its internal voice privacy system with minor changes to accommodate DEA; (3) needs to finalize the system's configuration and operation; and (4) estimated that the revised approach will cost about $7.4 million over the costs of each agency's respective internal system, instead of the $153.2 million for the original program. GAO noted that Congress may wish to consider: (1) the revised program's possible effect on FBI and DEA drug-related operations; and (2) FBI and DEA plans for preparing a comprehensive requirements analysis for future radio communications systems.

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