Office of Telecommunications Policy's Contract for a Publication on Intercepting Electronic Communications

LCD-78-110: Published: Apr 10, 1978. Publicly Released: Apr 10, 1978.

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In June 1976, the Office of Telecommunications Policy awarded a firm-fixed-price sole-source negotiated contract to the Mitre Corporation to study the interception vulnerabilities of unprotected domestic commercial telecommunications systems, especially microwave systems. The study yielded a two-volume report and a separate how-to publication entitled "Elected Examples of Possible Approaches to Electronic Communications Interception Operations."

This how-to publication was withheld from public release until a decision was made that its contents were not classified and that it did not meet disclosure exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act. In January 1978, the Office began releasing the expanded book. It was reasonable for the Office to want a comprehensive study made, since none was available, on the interception vulnerabilities of all U.S. commercial telecommunications systems. However, the Office's procurement involved deficiencies pertaining to documentation of procurement actions. The documentation supporting negotiation of a sole-source contract on the grounds of public exigency and the impracticability of obtaining competition did not comply with procurement regulations. The publication was produced as a separate publication for policymakers through misunderstandings between Office and Mitre officials. It is possible that publication of this book could lead to some instances of privacy invasion that would not occur if the book were not available.

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