GAO: DHS slow to upgrade border security

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GAO report

The Homeland Security Department has been slow in upgrading security along the 4,000-mile border with Canada and has not produced a strategic plan for protecting against terrorists crossing into the United States, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office.

DHS has started some programs and activities to improve security along the northern border, as outlined in a February GAO report to Congress, GAO noted.

However, the department has fully implemented only 11 of GAO’s 50 recommendations for improving northern border security, the report states. Of the 39 unaddressed recommendations, GAO forwarded 21 to DHS more than a year ago, GAO said in a report issued Nov. 25.

For example, GAO recommended in 2007 and earlier that the department should better coordinate air and marine resources and nuclear detection activities and develop performance measures for the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program at the northern border.

“We believe that these outstanding recommendations continue to have merit and should be implemented,” the GAO report states.

Also, DHS has not provided a strategic plan to achieve control over the land border with Canada, GAO said.

“Budget documents do not reflect the resources needed over time to achieve control of the northern border,” wrote Richard Stana, GAO’s director of homeland security and justice issues. “The lack of this information makes it difficult for Congress to consider future actions and resources needed.”

DHS officials said they are in the process of evaluating northern border strategic plans and a risk management process and will conduct a pilot project to test new technology on the Canadian border in 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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