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systems and plans that could help get “operational control” of the Southern border, the study found, to rely on “outdated border solutions” focused on “materiel alternatives” to meet its mission requirements.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.


  • Elections
    voting security

    'Unprecedented' challenges to safe, secure 2020 vote

    Our election infrastructure is bending under the stress of multiple crises. Administrators say they are doing all they can to ensure it doesn't break.

  • FCW Perspectives
    zero trust network

    Can government get to zero trust?

    Today's hybrid infrastructures and highly mobile workforces need the protection zero trust security can provide. Too bad there are obstacles at almost every turn.

Stay Connected


Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.