Will the Five New Border Technologies Ever See the Light of Day?

The new Reorg at CBP provides some hope that this largest of all federal law enforcement agencies at last recognizes its crucial problems and intends to resolve them. However, what is always most difficult is to change in an organization of this size because it is the managerial culture which shapes and drives it. Without significant cultural change in the leadership at CBP, positive accomplishments as determined by measurable outcomes are very difficult to obtain.

A case in point. By all accounts SBInet was a miserable failure that cost the taxpayer more than $1 billion. But even more importantly, Border Patrol Agents and Custom Officers to date have been denied state-of-the-art surveillance equipment that would increase their efficiency on the job and, at the same time, reduce their risk. Anyone who does not understand the danger that these men and women face on a daily basis really does not understand the nature of their work.

The documented failure of SBInet has required CBP to try to catch up after years of technology failures along the border. One must hope that the five new contracts awarded by CBP’s Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition to defense contractors will very soon bring the latest in surveillance technology into the capable hands of CBP Agents and Officers.

The responsibility for shepherding these five technologies to fruition rests directly upon the shoulders of Mark Borkowski, CBP’s Assistant Commissioner and Chief Acquisition Executive. The fact, however, that Borkowski supervised the failed SBInet program from 2006 to 2010 does not create much confidence that he will succeed in a timely and productive manner to increase our national security in our borderlands.

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