CBP cancels technology project

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has canceled a planned $20 million project to deploy an advanced technology system for security at the border of the United States and Canada, a senior official said recently. The money has been diverted to physical fencing.

The Northern Border Demonstration, which was to have been done this year at a water location near Detroit, was called off in favor of more “traditional” technologies, Jayson Ahern, CBP’s deputy commissioner, told the House Homeland Security Committee Sept. 10.

“We redistributed the funding to tactical infrastructure,” which refers to fencing, vehicle barriers, lighting, bridges and road improvements, Ahern said.

Under the Northern Border Demonstration, the goal was to bring SBInet technologies to a section of the border near Detroit, CBP said earlier.

Boeing, the prime contractor for SBInet, was to assist in the demonstration in Detroit.

This is the second time in several weeks that CBP has delayed deploying of a technology solution at a U.S. land border and proposed to reallocate the funding to physical fencing.

The announcement came as Ahern also confirmed that the department has suspended the construction of the SBInet virtual fence border surveillance system being built on the border of the United States and Mexico until January 2009 at the earliest. SBInet funding from fiscal 2008 is being proposed for reallocation toward fencing needs, Ahern said. Homeland Security Department officials have said they hope to build 670 miles of physical fencing along the southern border this year. To date, the department has built about 340 miles.

The SBInet, or the Secure Border Initiative Network, is comprised of cameras, radars, sensors and communications equipment strung on towers. The first permanent towers were to be installed in Arizona in July but have been delayed until January 2009.

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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