SUMMARY OF: A Special Report on the Department of Administration, Alaska Land Mobile Radio Communications System, September 13, 2013

Purpose of the Report

In accordance with Title 24 of the Alaska Statutes and a special request by the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, we have conducted a performance audit of the Alaska Land Mobile Radio (ALMR) Communications System (system). The purpose of the audit is to report on the ALMR system’s use and degree of interoperability. The audit also identifies system expenditures and funding needs; assesses the condition of the divested assets; identifies ALMR functions required by law; and evaluates the reasonableness of the ALMR feasibility study.

Report Conclusions

Based on our audit, we conclude there are no federal or state laws that require the State of Alaska to have an interoperable communication system. However, there are federal and state directives that provide guidance for such systems.

During 2012, ALMR assets at 41 sites were transferred from the Department of Defense (DoD) to the State. Prior to accepting the transferred assets, Department of Administration (DOA) and DoD representatives conducted an inventory of the assets. Based on the inventory, ALMR assets were determined operational, and $120,000 of upgrades were identified. As a result of the transfer, DOA’s annual budget increased by $1.5 million to operate and maintain the transferred assets.

All ALMR system users could not be surveyed as part of this audit, in part, because ALMR management and user agencies do not adequately track equipment. Instead, ALMR system user agencies were surveyed. Survey respondents believed the system provides interoperable communications, but noted certain limitations. Limitations include: (1) the ALMR system does not provide coverage to all areas of the State, and (2) the ALMR system was not always available when needed. Survey respondents also commented on limitations with their handheld radio range and reception.

In February 2012, the legislature directed DOA to recover a portion of ALMR costs from federal agencies. In FY 14, a cost share agreement was implemented that requires DoD to reimburse DOA’s Division of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) for the cost of operating ALMR based on the percentage of ALMR sites owned by DoD. Federal non-DoD agencies are required to reimburse ETS based on system usage. According to DOA management, state agencies, local governments, and nonprofits do not reimburse ETS for their respective ALMR system usage.

An ALMR feasibility study, conducted by DOA through a contractor, generally addressed legislative intent. The study identified the State of Alaska as the main funding source for operating and maintaining the system.

Findings and Recommendations

Recommendation No. 1

The ALMR Executive Council should ensure user agencies conduct an annual inventory of ALMR equipment.

Due to a lack of oversight by the ALMR Executive Council and user agencies, an annual inventory of ALMR user agency equipment was not performed by either ALMR management or user agencies. Over half of ALMR user agencies (68 of the 120) stated they do not track ALMR equipment numbers and user names. As a result, there is an increased risk of unauthorized use or monitoring of the ALMR system.