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November 04, 2011

Proposed Border Surveillance Plan Needs Better Planning and Cost Estimates

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, issued the statement below in response to the release of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report he requested on the Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan, successor to the failed SBInet program. The report, entitled "Arizona Border Surveillance Technology: More Information on Plans and Costs Is Needed before Proceeding," found that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) does not have the information needed to fully support and implement its estimated $1.5 billion Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan.

GAO concluded that CBP has not yet demonstrated the effectiveness and suitability of its new approach for deploying surveillance technology in Arizona, and that it needs to document how, where, and why it plans to deploy specific combinations of technology prior to its acquisition and deployment. Also, GAO found the $1.5 billion ten-year cost estimate for the program may not reliable. In response, GAO recommended that CBP provide a robust justification of the technologies used in the border security plan, along with a high-quality and accurate cost analysis, in order to avoid some of the same failures experienced by the SBInet program.

Ranking Member Thompson released the following statement in response to the report:

"The similarities GAO found between the failed SBInet program and aspects of the planned Arizona Border Surveillance Technology plan are both striking and troubling. The good news is there is still time to avoid yet another failed border security technology project. But to do so, DHS and CBP must heed GAO's recommendations by conducting a thorough and accurate cost analysis and carefully planning the purchase and deployment of technology. Only then will DHS finally succeed in implementing a border security technology system that Congress and American taxpayers expect."

Link to Report

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Media Contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978