Emergency Communications: Survey of Selected Federal Agencies' Use and Procurement of Land Mobile Radio Equipment (GAO-17-13SP, October 5, 2016), an E-supplement to GAO-17-12

GAO-17-13SP Published: Oct 05, 2016. Publicly Released: Oct 05, 2016.
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Highlights

This e-supplement is a companion to GAO’s report entitled, Emergency Communications: Improved Procurement of Land Mobile Radios Could Enhance Interoperability and Cut Costs, GAO-17-12. The purpose of this e-supplement is to provide a summary of the results of GAO's survey of select civilian federal agencies on their use of land mobile radio (LMR) systems to communicate with other federal agencies. To identify relevant agencies for this survey, GAO first asked non-military participating members of the Emergency Communications Preparedness Center (ECPC) to identify which, if any, of their component agencies use LMR to communicate with at least one other federal agency. The ECPC is comprised of 14 federal departments and agencies which serve as a federal interagency focal point for interoperable and operable communications coordination. Its members represent the federal government's broad role in emergency communications, including regulation, policy, operations, grants, and technical assistance. Members of the ECPC are: the Federal Communications Commission, the General Services Administration, and U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, the Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, and the Treasury. 

Seventy-four federal agencies were identified. GAO screened this initial set of agencies to determine which of them use LMR systems to communicate with at least one other federal agency for daily operations; planned events, like presidential inaugurations; or unplanned incidents. All 74 agencies responded to the screening question. Agencies that met the criterion—58 federal LMR users in all—were further surveyed about the types of equipment they use, interoperability needs, and procurement practices, among other topics. All but one of the 58 agencies that GAO identified as federal LMR users responded to the full survey. The Federal Bureau of Investigation did not respond to the full survey but provided responses to a limited set of survey questions related to identifying agencies with which they require LMR interoperability. The results of the survey cannot be generalized to the experience and perspectives of federal agencies that did not participate in the survey.

For more information, contact Rebecca Shea at (202) 512-2834 or SheaR@gao.gov.

Supplemental Material

Background

This document presents the results of GAO's survey of selected civilian federal agencies on their use and procurement of land mobile radio (LMR) systems and devices. In order to learn about agencies' use of LMR systems and devices and perspectives on factors that have helped or hindered their interoperability with identified partner agencies and their procurement practices, we conducted a web-based survey of selected civilian federal agencies. The results of the survey include information on LMR use among civilian federal agencies that are members of the Emergency Communications Preparedness Center and cannot be generalized to the experience and perspectives of federal agencies that did not participate in the survey.

In this e-supplement we present an abridged version of the survey questionnaire and a summary of the results regarding use and characteristics of LMR systems and devices, relevant procurement practices, and factors related to five elements identified by SAFECOM as necessary to achieve interoperability (SAFECOM is managed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Communications and collaborates with emergency responders at all levels of government to create key documents and issue guidance). Those factors are: usage, technology, training and exercises, governance, and standard operating procedures.

We are not presenting the full version of our survey or results. For example, we do not include narratives provided in open-ended questions, due to some answers possibly revealing agencies' identities based on the content provided. We also do not include full results for questions 15-25. These questions asked each agency to identify its federal agency partners, and comment on the type of LMR usage with those partners (daily, planned events, or unplanned/emergency events). These questions also asked each agency to evaluate the quality of LMR interoperability with each of their partners and to indicate whether or not they agree to common technical requirements before purchasing new LMR equipment, or whether or not they have standard operating procedures related to LMR interoperability with their partners. While we do not include these individual results here, they can be found in summary format in the main report and in the report's interactive graphics (click here for link to interactive graphic). For a generic example of what questions 15-25 covered and their summary results, see the corresponding links in the table below.

A more detailed discussion of our scope and methodology is contained in our report "EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS: Improved Procurement of Land Mobile Radios Could Enhance Interoperability and Cut Costs" GAO-17-12 (Washington, D.C.: October 2016). We administered the survey from April 2016 to May 2016 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

 

Contents

Page Name Questionnaire Results
Introduction View View
Definitions View View
Use of Land Mobile Radios (LMR) View View
Your Agency's Mission View View
Characteristics of LMR System View View
Characteristics of LMR Devices View View
Characteristics of LMR Devices View View
LMR Procurement Practices View View
LMR Procurement Practices - Contracting Vehicles View View
Federal Partner Agencies View View
Federal Partner Agencies: Challenges View View
Non-Federal Partner Entities View View
SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum Elements: Usage View View
SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum Elements: Technology View View
SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum Elements: Technology View View
SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum Elements: Training View View
SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum Elements: Exercises View View
SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum Elements: Governance View View
SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum Elements: Governance View View
SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum Elements:
Standard Operating Procedures
View View
SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum Elements:
Standard Operating Procedures
View View
Policies, Directives, and Best Practices View View
Additional Comments View View
End of Survey View View

 

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