$2b RFP for tech surveillance of Mexico, Canada borders

Appropriations committee doubts DHS' ability to manage, though. "We apply a simple formula: No plan equals no money."
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor

The Dept. of Homeland Security has issued an RFP for Secure Border Initiative-Net (SBI-Net), a $2 billion contract to deply technologial surveillance of not only the entire US-Mexico border but also the US-Canada border, Washington Technology reporter Alice Lipowicz notes.

"Under the contract, the system must detect entries when they occur, identify who has entered, classify the level of threat and "effectively and efficiently respond to the entry," the RFP says.

Qualified to bid so far are Ericsson Inc., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Co. Northrup has also indicated interest.

Congressional approval of this massive contract is far from secure, however.

Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), who chairs the [House Appropriations Subcommittee] said in an April 7 hearing that he wants to see a strategic plan for the SBI before approving the funding.

"How do you know that items such as $100 million in technology and $51 million in desert tactical infrastructure are needed, when you have yet to put into place an SBI resource plan or award the primary SBI contract?" Rogers asked. "Without seeing your strategic plan, how do we know that this $1.3 billion is the right investment and not just another money pit? When presented with questions like this, we apply a simple formula: No plan equals no money."

Noting other expensive DHS tech failures, Rogers asked, "How is the SBI not just another three-letter acronym for failure?" he asked.

And even at $2 billion, the contract will require top-notch project management. Rep. Martin O. Sabo (D-Minn.) questioned whether DHS can deliver. "There are complex policy and technical issues here that require expert leadership and well-thought programs on top of significant resources." The 2 bil may be "just a drop in the bucket compared to what will be needed."

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