Secretary Napolitano announced this week that she is freezing all funding for the Secure Border Initiative Network along the Mexican border, according to NPR. The construction of a "virtual" fence along the border, using video surveillance with analytic capabilities was intended to identify and alert Border Patrol of individuals attempting to illegally cross the border or other activity happening along the 2,000 mile border. The only problem? It didn't work.
"Well, it sort of works," said Rich Stana, who wrote a report on the project last year for the Government Accountability Office.
Here's some details from the article:
Homeland Security hired The Boeing Co. three-and-a-half years ago to build a string of towers along the 2,000-mile border. The towers were to integrate off-the-shelf products — cameras, radar, connections to ground sensors — so that Border Patrol agents could see who and what was coming across in real time.
Boeing made big promises about SBInet's capabilities.
Boeing built a 28-mile test section in the Southern Arizona desert. It didn't work. The company regrouped, redesigned and redeployed one set of towers near the first set. It is building another section right now. The entire border was supposed to be covered a year ago, but after three years — and $1.4 billion — the system is still full of bugs.
You might remember that 60 Minutes produced a great piece on the project not long ago (see Sam's blog and the video here).
As if that wasn't bad enough, the GAO is expected to report that the project hit a real desperate note:
The new report even says some tests have been rigged to guarantee success.
That's not good. We should know more details later today, as an executive from Boeing is set to appear before the House Committee to discuss this monumental failure, but unfortunately I'm not able to find a video link from C-SPAN, otherwise I'd be tuned in.
The demise of this project is just more confirmation that just because one can use "off-the-shelf products" does not mean that it's the best solution. That sure is a hard $1.4 billion lesson to learn, especially since you and I are footing the bill.