DHS spending bill would fund SBInet, E-Verify

Several high-tech systems for the Homeland Security Department would be funded under legislation approved by the House Appropriations Committee.

The committee approved several  technology-related items in the fiscal 2010 spending bill for the Homeland Security Department, including $692 million for DHS' Border Security, Fencing, Infrastructure and Technology account, according to a committee news release. A report attached to the bill specified that the money should go for technology at the southwest U.S. border.

“The committee expects this funding to be used for the testing, validation and deployment of technological solutions for border security, including tactical communications,” states the committee report.

One DHS’ technology program being constructed along the border of the United States and Mexico is the SBInet electronic surveillance system. That project, which consists of cameras, radars and sensors strung on towers and linked with border patrol operations centers, is projected to cost $7 billion and span the entire southwestern border.

In addition, the appropriations panel backed an additional $40 million to the department’s budget for mobile and remote video surveillance intended to be used at the United States' northern border.

The E-Verify program would get $112 million. It is a Web-based system that allows employers to verify Social Security numbers for their workers. 

The committee allocated $382 million for DHS’ share of the National Cyber Security Initiative, which it said would be used to strengthen federal and civilian computer networks by consolidating Internet access points and using network-based sensors to detect intrusions.

The committee approved $200 million for Secure Communities, a DHS program in which local law enforcement agencies are linked to networks allowing them to check fingerprints against federal criminal and immigration databases.

Another $140 million was set aside for the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, to deploy technology and infrastructure at the 46 busiest ports, including $16 million for communications equipment for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.

The committee allocated $40 million for state and local emergency operations centers, which was not requested by the president.

High-tech systems along the northern and southern U.S. land borders would be funded under legislation approved by the House Appropriations Committee.

The committee approved several  technology-related items in the fiscal 2010 spending bill for the Homeland Security Department, including $692 million for DHS' Border Security, Fencing, Infrastructure and Technology account, according to a committee news release. A report attached to the bill specified that the money should go for technology at the southwest U.S. border.

“The committee expects this funding to be used for the testing, validation and deployment of technological solutions for border security, including tactical communications,” states the committee report.

DHS’ technology program being constructed at the U.S.-Arizona border is the Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet) electronic surveillance system. That project, which consists of cameras, radars and sensors strung on towers and linked with border patrol operations centers, is projected to cost $7 billion to span the entire southwestern border.

In addition, the appropriations panel backed $40 million to the department’s budget for mobile and remote video surveillance intended to be used at the northern border.

Another technology program getting a boost is $112 million for E-Verify, which is a Web-based system allowing employers to verify Social Security numbers for their workers. While E-Verify mandates have been controversial, the committee members wrote in the report that they support voluntary employment verification.

The committee allocated $382 million for DHS’ share of the National Cyber Security Initiative, which it said would be used to strengthen federal and civilian computer networks by consolidating Internet access points and using network-based sensors to detect intrusions.

The committee approved $200 million for Secure Communities, a DHS program in which local law enforcement agencies are linked to networks allowing them to check fingerprints against federal criminal and immigration databases.


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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