House Panel Wants To Cut Border Tech Funding
Despite all of the concern over U.S. border security and the billions sunk into supporting technologies, a House Appropriations Committee markup of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget proposes cutting border control technology efforts.
While the committee wants the Coast Guard to have an additional $258.3 million for “global war on terrorism” operations, technologies and offices on the border did not fare so well. The committee wants to reduce funding for the program that controls Customs and Border Protection’s controversial SBInet program from $527 million to $500 million, while also reducing funding for SBInet’s follow-on, the Alternative (Southwest) Border Technology program, by $27 million. Of that cut, $19 million would come from the $242 million DHS had wanted to spend on it in fiscal 2012.
A major component of this program is to install a series of commercial, off-the-shelf integrated fixed towers along the border, following an open competition that is currently being put together.
But the House panel worries that “It is unclear how the department’s acquisition approach for additional integrated fixed tower systems fits with the premise of the Arizona Border Technology Plan, namely to procure and deploy off-the-shelf technology for an intended immediate benefit.”
Overall, the legislation would give DHS $40.6 billion in base funding for fiscal 2012 – $3 billion less than the White House requested and a full $1.1 billion less than the agency received in fiscal 2011. The whole House is currently debating the bill.