FBI Voice Privacy:

Cost, Status, and Future Direction

IMTEC-87-4: Published: Feb 27, 1987. Publicly Released: Apr 1, 1987.

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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 program's cost and status; (2) FBI design and procurement of the new equipment; and (3) FBI development of a joint system for itself, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the U.S. Marshals Service.

GAO noted that the program experienced substantial increases in estimated and actual costs because FBI made incorrect assumptions about field office needs and differences, standard equipment, and technology limitations. GAO found that the program fell significantly behind its completion schedule because: (1) the contractor had to make extensive changes to the individual radio system components so that they would work together as a complete system; (2) FBI determined that it needed digital voice privacy equipment to cover special events and operations in field offices outside the contract scope; and (3) FBI had difficulty in acquiring appropriate sites for radio and microwave equipment and in obtaining scarce radio and microwave frequencies. GAO also found that FBI did not: (1) prepare a long-range plan for the program; or (2) identify and analyze alternatives to its radio and microwave configuration or procurement approach. GAO concluded that a similar situation could occur with the integrated voice privacy project, since FBI does not yet have firm cost and time estimates for it.

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