CBP to spend $100M on SBInet

Border surveillance moves ahead

The Homeland Security Department plans to spend $100 million in economic stimulus funding to install border surveillance technology and improve tactical communications, according to a planning document published online.

The stimulus law Congress passed in February restored money to Customs and Border Protection’s strategic border technologies, which had been redirected to border fencing.

CBP plans to spend $50 million on the SBInet electronic surveillance system being built on the border between the United States and Mexico and $50 million on tactical communications. The SBInet system includes cameras, radar and communications devices strung on towers and linked to border patrol operations centers.

“The funding will be applied equally to two of CBP’s highest operational needs: deployment of surveillance and associated command and control technologies, and deployment of [Project 25] tactical communications,” states the planning document, which was posted online at Recovery.gov on May 15. Project 25 is a suite of technical standards for interoperable communications equipment.

According to the document, $35 million will be added to task orders under the existing contract with Boeing Co. to complete planned SBInet deployments in Arizona. Another $15 million will be used to buy existing technology under the Boeing contract or other competitively awarded contracts, the document states.

CBP will use the $50 million for tactical infrastructure to accelerate upgrades of communications technologies in the El Paso and Rio Grand Valley sectors. That involves moving to an integrated IP quality of service-based digital network.

“Nearly half of the CBP’s tactical radio communications inventory does not meet current digital narrowband standards,” the planning document states. “The increasing maintenance problems, limited capabilities in comparison to new technology and lack of interoperability with systems used by other federal agencies [have] led to significant communications challenges and decreased officer safety for CBP’s field personnel, who face an increasing homeland security mission.”

The agency intends to obligate its economic stimulus law funds from August to November.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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