The Virginia STARS (Statewide Agencies Radio System) is an ongoing project that’s supposed to provide a digital, interoperable radio system for the Virginia State Police and other state agencies. The system is also supposed to provide for instance interoperability with local agencies. The contract for this project was awarded back in June 2004 and was supposed to be completely operational by September 2009 according to the original timetable. ((“Frequently Asked Questions About STARS.” <http://www.vsp.state.va.us/downloads/STARSContract/STARS_FAQ.htm>.))
But, as everything the government does (regardless of whether it’s the federal, state, or local government doing it), the project is behind schedule and over budget. And the General Assembly is starting to get fed up with the whole thing according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Virginia’s new Statewide Agencies Radio System is over budget and behind schedule, in part because of poor planning, the House Appropriations Committee was told today.
The system is to bring new computers and radios to State Police cars and allow them to communicate easily with other public safety agencies.
Exasperated members of the budget committee sharply questioned Col. W. Steven Flaherty, the superintendent of State Police, about the report by a state auditor.
“What the heck are you all doing and how can we trust you?“ asked Del. R. Steven Landes, R-Augusta.
The project is expected to cost about $350 million. It was originally scheduled to be finished at the end of this year, but will need another year of work beyond that deadline, officials said.
Among the problems found by the auditor was that the project management team could not determine whether the work was on budget. It also found insufficient review of a consultant’s invoices before payment.
Flaherty said the deficiencies have been corrected and that some were exaggerated. ((Tyler Whitley. “Auditor critical of work on state public safety radio system.” Richmond Times-Dispatch. 16 June 2009: <http://www.timesdispatch.com/rtd/news/state_regional/article/STAR17_20090616-135201/274164/>.))
Of course: ‘They’re just lying. Everything is a-okay here and we’re completely on budget! In fact, we’re under budget!’ *Snort*.
This is a project that’s currently over $10,000,000 over budget. ((Department of the State Police. “Notice of Award.” 14 July 2004: <http://www.vsp.state.va.us/downloads/stars_files/Notice%20of%20Award%20Posting.tif>.)) ((“Modification #25 to Contract Number 2001-035 Between the Commonwealth of Virginia and Motorola, Inc.” 25 Nov. 2008: <http://www.vsp.state.va.us/downloads/stars_files/Contract%20Mod%2025%20v6%2011-20-08.pdf>.)) This is a program that should have been completely operational by September 2009. ((“Frequently Asked Questions About STARS.” <http://www.vsp.state.va.us/downloads/STARSContract/STARS_FAQ.htm>.)) Now, it’s almost a whole year behind in implementation. ((Department of State Police. “Re: Extended Implementation Justification.” 20 Oct. 2008: <http://tinyurl.com/m2h9bd>.)) According to the original project time table, all but one of the seven Virginia State Police divisions should be using the system currently, but as it stands now, only two are. ((“Frequently Asked Questions About STARS.” <http://www.vsp.state.va.us/downloads/STARSContract/STARS_FAQ.htm>.)) ((Department of State Police. “Re: Extended Implementation Justification.” 20 Oct. 2008: <http://tinyurl.com/m2h9bd>.))
This is a colossal failure of management and leadership by both Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. And Creigh Deeds says he wants to follow in footsteps of the Warner-Kaine style of governance? If so, this whole state is in for more of a Charlie-Foxtrot if he gets elected.