Oversight

Tech-centric border security bypassed to push wall construction

8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego 

Customs and Border Protection pushed past possibly cheaper and more effective technological and manpower security alternatives in its wall construction acquisition, according to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.

The report said CBP’s analysis phase of its wall acquisition program beginning in 2017 didn’t assess alternatives and emphasized construction of physical barriers along sections of the Southern border at the expense of potentially more effective technological solutions and more manpower.

CBP skipped past assessing systems and plans that could help get “operational control” of the Southern border, the study found, to rely on “outdated border solutions” focused on “materiel alternatives” to meet its mission requirements. Those alternatives include technology and more manpower. CBP also didn’t use an effective methodology to identify and prioritize areas along the border that would benefit most from a physical barrier.

CBP’s analysis, said the report, didn’t meet 2017 congressional requirements for “a risk-based plan for improving security along the borders of the United States, including the use of personnel, fencing, other forms of tactical infrastructure, and technology.”

The report recommended the Department of Homeland Security require CBP to conduct a new independent analysis of alternatives to identify the most appropriate and effective solutions to get complete operational control of the southern border. It also urged DHS to determine whether an implementation plan for acquiring and maintaining operational control of the border is needed. It recommended the Border Patrol revise how it prioritizes investments in border security needs and improve how it uses data in its acquisition decision support tools.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


Featured

  • Defense
    Soldiers from the Old Guard test the second iteration of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) capability set during an exercise at Fort Belvoir, VA in Fall 2019. Photo by Courtney Bacon

    IVAS and the future of defense acquisition

    The Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System has been in the works for years, but the potentially multibillion deal could mark a paradigm shift in how the Defense Department buys and leverages technology.

  • Cybersecurity
    Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lora Ratliff)

    Mayorkas announces cyber 'sprints' on ransomware, ICS, workforce

    The Homeland Security secretary announced a series of focused efforts to address issues around ransomware, critical infrastructure and the agency's workforce that will all be launched in the coming weeks.

Stay Connected