DHS to award SBINet to Boeing

After months of anticipation and speculation, the Homeland Security Department is expected to announce today that Boeing has won the Secure Border Initiative (SBINet) contract, worth an estimated $2.5 billion.

SBINet is part of a multiyear initiative to secure U.S. borders from would-be terrorists and illegal immigrants through a combination of advanced technology and increased manpower.

Boeing’s winning proposal calls for the installation of 1,800 towers along the northern and southern borders within three years. The network of towers will detect and track intruders through the use of cameras, sensors and motion detectors.

Industry sources confirmed the selection of the giant defense contractor. Boeing beat Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Ericsson and Raytheon.

Rumors of Boeing’s selection surfaced Sept. 19. Calls to Boeing’s offices in Northern Virginia and elsewhere were not returned. Callers to the DHS media office in Washington, D.C., heard a recording that instructed them to try again later.

In January, DHS sponsored an industry day to explain the department’s vision for SBINet and solicit ideas for the project. DHS said the goal is to “field the most effective mix of current and next-generation technology, infrastructure, staffing and response platforms.”

DHS wants to integrate state-of-the-art systems with traditional security infrastructures to give the Customs and Border Protection division “a single comprehensive border security suite.”

DHS issued a request for proposals for SBINet in April, and since then, the five contractors had been in a marathon to win the major contract.

But Boeing and its subcontractors will not get a free hand in deploying the system. Nor will they find a bottomless pit of money, two aspects of SBINet that has Congress concerned.

Gregory Giddens, SBI director at DHS, tried to assuage those concerns Sept. 13 when he told a congressional committee that whichever company wins, the contractor will be working for the U.S. government.

Nevertheless, Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee, has said Congress might seek to withhold funds if SBINet does not live up to expectations. He said border security funding has quadrupled to nearly $18 billion since 1995.

DHS’ border and transportation security funding request for fiscal 2007 is $20.2 billion, or 35 percent of the department’s overall request of $58.2 billion.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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