HARRISBURG – The Senate and the House of Representatives approved legislation this week that would require the Pennsylvania Inspector General to review the Pennsylvania Statewide Radio Network (PA-STARNet).
The legislation is similar to a bill introduced by Senators Bob Mensch (R-24) and Scott Martin (R-13) earlier this year.
The statewide network was first authorized in 1996, but the system has experienced serious reliability issues and cost taxpayers a total of more than $750 million. The system was turned over to the Pennsylvania State Police in 2016 in order to allow for better progress toward full implementation.
House Bill 1461, which includes similar language to Mensch’s and Martin’s bill, would allow the Inspector General to review all contracts entered into by the PA-STARNet system over the past two decades.
“PA-STARNet will provide interoperability and enable first responders to communicate without boundaries, but the costly delays in bringing this critical system online poses an unacceptable threat to emergency responders and public safety, and demands a thorough review,” Mensch said. “Taxpayers have spent more than $750 million for a system that is still not fully implemented after more than 20 years. They deserve a detailed review of all contracts associated with this troubled project.”
“We need to have a complete accounting of where the statewide radio system went wrong so our State Troopers safety and lives aren’t put at risk and taxpayers are never saddled with that kind of expensive boondoggle ever again,” Martin said. “There is a great deal of optimism that entrusting the system to the State Police will serve as a turning point in a long and expensive process for taxpayers, and I am hopeful that a thorough review of the system will help us determine what, if any, actions are necessary to ensure we have an efficient and reliable network.”