The federal government's multi-billion dollar plan to create a super fast internet for police departments has hit its first major public snag: allegations of corruption. McClatchy reports:
In creating [FirstNet] and committing an initial $7 billion toward its launch, Congress had specified that any outside consultants must be hired “in a fair, transparent and objective manner.”
In fact, none of the initial consultants was hired through competitive bidding.
The awarding of sole-source contracts—many to coworkers and friends in a small inner circle around former FirstNet executives—may have violated the law, according to McClatchy's investigation. The paper found that some of the consultants FirstNet hired were paid up to $300 an hour to lay the groundwork for the law enforcement and first responder network which will serve public employees who make on average about $200 per day.
FirstNet aims to provide law enforcement nationwide with a fast, secure network for the sharing of real-time information, including surveillance video, license plate reader data, biometrics, and even health records. According to McClatchy's report, an inspector general is conducting an audit related to the corruption allegations.