Sep 12, 2022 - News

"Minimal progress" made on reforming 911, D.C. audit says

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

The D.C. auditor says “minimal progress” has been made on reforming the District's troubled emergency call system after an audit from last October, according to a follow-up audit by Federal Engineering, Inc.

Why it matters: The Office of Unified Communications manages 911 and has been hit with criticism for dispatch errors.

  • This summer, two infants died in separate incidents due to errors in dispatching emergency personnel — incidents the auditor’s office says will be evaluated in a future audit.

Flashback: The audit found that while the appropriate number of emergency personnel were dispatched in 97% of calls, the 911 agency was inconsistent in handling calls, had difficulties in locating emergencies, and did not meet national standards for getting timely help for callers in both 2019 and 2020.

  • The audit made 31 recommendations to reform the agency.

Yes, but: It has completed only one recommendation, which was related to using a location-centric technology for 911 call centers.

  • Yet minimal progress has been made on prioritizing the types of 911 calls, streamlining call data, and getting 911 call-takers to stick to scripted protocol, among other recommendations.
  • No progress has yet been made on improving translation services, which was required by the end of last month, the audit says.

What they’re saying: OUC Acting Director Karima Holmes, who had previously left the agency in 2021 amid criticism and was reappointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser this March, wrote in a response to the report that she was pleased with the progress the agency has made and looks forward to meeting with the audit team this month.

  • When asked for comment, OUC pointed Axios to its plan on meeting these recommendations. The mayor’s office did not respond to Axios' request for comment.
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