New border technology plan insufficient, GAO finds

2011-11-04T11:31:00Z 2011-11-04T12:04:29Z New border technology plan insufficient, GAO findsBrady McCombs, Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 04, 2011 11:31 am  • 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection hasn't done sufficient homework to "fully support and implement" the latest high tech border security plan in Arizona, the investigative arm of Congress reported Friday. 

The critical report about the agency's new border technology strategy follows a series of scathing evaluations issued by the Government Accountability Office about the precursor, SBInet program, which has been plagued by glitches and delays and produced only two working systems covering 53 miles of border in Arizona despite an investment of about $1 billion from 2005 to 2011.

The new report said the agency has not "documented the analysis justifying the specific types, quantities, and deployment locations of border surveillance technologies proposed" in the Arizona border surveillance technology plan.

"Without documentation of the analysis, there is no way to verify the process CBP followed, identify how the underlying analysis were used, assess the validity of the decisions made, or justify the funding requested for the plan," the GAO report says. "CBP officials also have not yet defined the mission benefits expected from implementing the new plan."

Instead of a one-size-fits-all network of camera and radar towers, used in SBInet, the new strategy will tailor unique plans for the different stretches of the geographically diverse, 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border by choosing from a menu of technology.

Most of the options are already being used on the border: truck-mounted surveillance systems, night-vision goggles and towers with day and night cameras. But now they are being brought together more cohesively in a plan to be rolled out first in Arizona - the busiest stretch of border for the last decade.

It is expected to cost an estimated $750 million to blanket Arizona's 378 miles of border with technology over the next three to four years, officials said. That money will be spread among several companies, said Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin.

Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or bmccombs@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Activate

Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Get weekly ads via e-mail