Wireless funds go elsewhere

About $60 million in federal funds earmarked for wireless communications along the U.S.-Mexican border has been misspent, a Homeland Security Department official in Arizona said.

Charles Cape, zone manager for DHS’ wireless initiative in the Southwest, said in an interview with the East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune that the money instead has been used for administrative expenses. The newspaper reported that Cape filed complaints with the department’s inspector general and the independent Office of Special Counsel.

“I’ve never seen $1 since I’ve been out here,” the newspaper quoted Cape, who was responsible for building a wireless communications network for DHS agencies in the southwestern region. “There’s nothing. They’ve sucked it all up at headquarters.”

Cape said the $60 million, which is based on fiscal year 2004 allocations by Congress, was set aside to build interoperable radio communications for the U.S. Border Patrol and to provide integrated radar, sensors and surveillance cameras to detect illegal border crossings, according to the newspaper.

Tamara Faulkner, a spokeswoman for the DHS inspector general's office, confirmed yesterday that the office is investigating Cape's claims, but declined to comment on the case. A call to the department’s public affairs office was not returned.

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