Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Of pork and border security

I'm absolutely outraged to read details of the Department of Homeland Security's waste of money on our border security. According to Ares:

The Secure Border Initiative is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s very expensive effort to secure the United States’ southern and northern borders, of which SBInet is its effort to gain information dominance over the southern border through radar, sensors, cameras, and other communications and surveillance gear.

The document, the DHS’ Fiscal 2010 "Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure and Technology" spending plan submitted to Congress, reports that despite five years of work and billions spent, Customs and Border Protection “does not have the engineering and logistics resources or capabilities to support deployed SBI technology and has been challenged to support legacy systems in the CBP inventory.” In order to develop this capability within the government workforce, “a significant investment is required” in coordination, software support, as well as engineering and logistics.

. . .

Work on the SBI program began in 2005 with $3.6 billion in funds allocated by Congress, but in July, the DHS’ Inspector General estimated that SBInet’s technologies will cost $7.6 billion to deploy along the southwest border from fiscal 2007 through 2011.

Boeing has been the lead contractor on the program since receiving three-year, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract in 2006 to integrate and implement the specified technologies along the border. As of February 2010, CBP had awarded a total of thirteen task orders to Boeing, for approximately $1.2 billion for the program.

There's more at the link. The full Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure and Technology (BSFIT) Fiscal Year 2010 Expenditure Plan is also worth reading (link is to an Adobe Acrobat document in .PDF format).

I wonder how many miles of bricks-and-mortar-and-barbed-wire border fence and wall could be erected for the $7.6 billion (yes, billion) estimated cost of SBInet? I reckon with that much money, we could build a triple wall-and-fence combination along both our southern and northern borders, and secure it with a densely-sown belt of landmines and/or man-eating lions, and probably have change left over! But that's not realistic, of course . . . after all, DHS Secretary Napolitano is on record as saying:

It's not just enough to address just one part of our broken immigration system without addressing the rest. For too long, all we've heard in this debate is tough talk without the smart comprehensive steps we need to truly fix the immigration system. The immigration debate is about accountability. It's about meeting fundamental responsibilities.

That's right. Let's continue to waste billions of dollars of taxpayers' money on ineffective technology, and reform immigration law to allow millions of presently illegal immigrants to gain legal status. That's more important than a border barrier that would stop illegal immigration in its tracks!

Can anyone say 'pork-barrel politics'? Yes, I thought you could . . .



Anonymous said...

I would have to say my dealings with DHS are less than rewarding. Your lucky to find one person in a group that has any technical know how on the project they are running. If you ask about real world application you will find out that no one has ever actually done the job they are suppose to be the experts on.

The real power is with the prime contractors. They want to take every dollar Uncle Sam has plus 20%. The scope of work always changes and that allows them bill for additional income. No problem is ever solved on the first go round. Never!!!

The subcontractors have the real technical knowledge. On every bill the subs submit the prime adds overhead and project management costs to the bill. Uncle Sam then adds cost on managing the prime.

Typically when I worked on a DHS project our part as a sub was 10% of the total project. When we did the same job for a private company it was 60% for the same finished project. Private projects were always on time and on budget. DHS never were. Add in local government involvement and it was a real nightmare.

My understanding is that NASA is run the same way.


Anonymous said...

There is the waste of money as well as a willful head-in-the-sand stance taken by the government about the seriousness of the issue.

Here's a little peek into what's going on in Mexico's ultraviolent drug war.

Anonymous said...

Fundamental responsibilities of government:

#1. Defend the frontiers.

Pissing away billions like that? Not helping.