DHS meets most conditions for border systems

DHS left one of 11 conditions unsatisfied, new report finds

The Homeland Security Department has fulfilled or nearly met 10 of the 11 conditions set by Congress for the Secure Border Initiative, but has left one condition unfulfilled, according to a report released today by the Government Accountability Office.

Under the departmental spending law of 2010, DHS was required to meet 11 conditions before it could obligate $75 million of the $800 million allocated for the SBInet virtual fence border surveillance system, as well as for other border fencing, infrastructure and technology. About $4.5 billion has been allocated for those border security programs from 2005 to 2010, according to GAO.

Customs and Border Protection completed the spending plan in May.

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To date, of the 11 legislative conditions, the department’s expenditure plan has satisfied four and partially satisfied six.

The remaining unfulfilled condition specified that the DHS chief information officer was to certify that the system architecture of the border security systems is sufficiently aligned with the department’s information systems. The CIO also was to certify that the secure border program has a risk-management process that regularly identifies and mitigates risk. Also, the CIO was to certify that an independent verification and validation agent is currently under contract for the funded projects.

The plan and documents “did not satisfy this condition,” the GAO report said. “The expenditure plan included a CIO certification memorandum dated May 12, 2010. However, this certification did not explicitly certify the conditions required by the law. Also, the plan did not include any supporting documents or memorandums and did not contain documentation and a description of the investment review processes to obtain such certification.”

GAO also determined that the expenditure plan satisfied two congressional committee directives, and partially satisfied five such directives.

DHS officials commented on only two of the conditions, partially agreeing with the GAO findings.

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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