Saturday, August 6, 2011

Doofus Award for August!

In 2007, all Alabama public safety agencies agreed to sign over their individual rights for direct Homeland Security funds to the State DHS office for the common good of all concerned.  We now see the results of that decision.

The original amount (around 12 million dollars plus or minus a few) sat with the Alabama DHS drawing no interest and doing nothing toward the development of a Statewide interoperable communications system until 2011.  Well, maybe that's not being totally fair.  They did have some vendor meetings, allegedly spent some money on consultants and actually drew up a State Communications Interoperability Plan (SCIP), which no one, including State agencies followed.

In the fall of 2011, the money had to be spent or returned.  So what did they do?  Maybe put in a P25 repeater in each county linked by fiber, microwave, or the Internet?  Nah!  Maybe a cache of radios in each county capable of talking on VHF, UHF, 700 and 800 MHz, analog, P25, conventional and trunked so that each county would have command system capability?  Nah!

So what did the DHS leaders in the State of Alabama do?  They gave the money to our two southernmost counties (Baldwin and Mobile) to build a network of 700 MHz stations with no mobile or portable radios to talk to - Absolutely brilliant!    The fact that the repeater stations cost an average of a half million dollars each, portables around $2,500 and mobiles around $3,500 didn't seem to be a concern even though far less expensive systems could do the job better.

And now, the beneficiaries of this grant are wanting to apply for a federal fire grant to pay for portables, mobiles, and extension of the network.  Can it be that anyone wonders why our government is broke? Congratulations to the Alabama Department of Homeland Security.  You are the hands down winner of the Doofus Award for August!