Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Diana DeGrette (D-Colo.) made the investigation request in a joint letter to Roth that repeatedly referenced a series of stories published by McClatchy news service in late March. That news series highlighted tactics used by Motorola Solutions to secure LMR contracts at the local, regional and state levels.

“We are concerned that the state and local jurisdictions discussed in the McClatchy articles, as well as many other jurisdictions, may have squandered federal grants, provided in part by DHS, as a result of questionable practices by Motorola,” the Democrats’ letter to Roth states. “If the allegations in the McClatchy articles are true, millions of federal tax dollars may have been wasted, and millions more are at risk.

“We therefore ask that you initiate an investigation to determine whether the abuses described in the McClatchy articles occurred and, if so, whether DHS grants were involved. If DHS grants were involved, we ask that you please propose changes to prevent a recurrence of these abuses.”

Waxman, Eshoo and DeGrette expressed concern about several findings in the McClatchy series, such as the state of Kansas awarding a $50 million contract to Motorola Solutions without a bidding process, because the deal was deemed to be an amendment—one of at least a dozen such amendments since 1991, according to the article—to a previous contract with the company.

Another allegation in the series is that Motorola included proprietary technology in its bids, which results in the entities having to contract with Motorola to maintain interoperability. One article cited in the letter notes that this strategy resulted in a $23 million contract to Motorola Solutions in Chicago.

The letter also highlighted a situation in California in which Alameda County purchased a Motorola master controller in 2005 that prevented interoperability with LMR equipment from other vendors, according to a McClatchy article.

“In 2007, the East Bay Regional Communications System Authority (EBRCSA) was formed to allow first responders in all jurisdictions in Alameda and Contra Costa counties to be able to communicate with one another when responding to major disasters or terrorist attacks,” the letter to Roth states. “However, leadership at the EBRCSA insisted that all participating jurisdictions purchase expensive Motorola equipment to ensure that their equipment works with Alameda County’s master controller.

“As a result, some jurisdictions, including Oakland, refused to join.  McClatchy notes that Oakland ‘found itself squeezed out of millions of dollars in desperately needed federal grant money after it refused to join.’  It appears that the EBRCSA has received a number of Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grants.”