When Government Contracts Become Corporate Welfare

The future of America’s first nationwide broadband network for firefighters, police and other first responders is at a critical moment this summer. States are deciding whether to build their own, join the big federal solution or do nothing. It’s not an easy decision for governors.

Fifteen years ago, following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the 9/11 Commission found that the communications network serving our nation’s first responders was subpar and had to be improved. After a decade of standard bureaucratic delays and bottlenecks, Congress formally created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) in 2012 and authorized $7 billion in dedicated funding.

The intended goal of the agency was to provide an interoperable communications network for our nation’s public safety that would promote competition, provide substantial rural coverage and become self-sustaining.

Today, FirstNet is one of the highest-profile technology projects, which deserves close oversight to make sure it achieves its original goals within a reasonable cost and risk profile.

This opinion article was written by Vance Hitch and appears on thehill.com July, 17, 2017

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Vance Hitch served as the CIO for the Department of Justice from 2001 to 2011. He was a senior adviser to Deloitte from 2012 through March 2017 and is now retired. He previously worked as a senior partner at Accenture for 28 years and served in the Navy.

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