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Testimony: 

Before the Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global 
Counterterrorism, Committee on Homeland Security, House of 
Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
GAO: 

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 10:00 a.m. EDT:
Thursday, September 17, 2009: 

Secure Border Initiative: 

Technology Deployment Delays Persist and the Impact of Border Fencing 
Has Not Been Assessed: 

Statement of Richard M. Stana, Director: 
Homeland Security and Justice Issues: 

GAO-09-1013T: 

[End of section] 

Chairwoman Sánchez, Ranking Member Souder, and Members of the 
Subcommittee: 

I am pleased to be here today to discuss the implementation of the 
Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Secure Border Initiative (SBI) 
program--a multiyear, multibillion dollar program aimed at securing 
U.S. borders and reducing illegal immigration. Securing the nation's 
borders from illegal entry of aliens and contraband, including 
terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, continues to be a major 
challenge. In November 2005, DHS announced the launch of SBI to help 
address this challenge. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) 
supports this initiative by providing agents and officers to patrol the 
borders, secure the ports of entry, and enforce immigration laws. 
[Footnote 1] In addition, CBP's SBI program is responsible for 
developing a comprehensive border protection system using technology, 
known as SBInet, and tactical infrastructure--fencing, roads, and 
lighting--along the southwest border to deter smugglers and aliens 
attempting illegal entry.[Footnote 2] Since fiscal year 2005, SBI has 
received funding amounting to over $3.7 billion. Approximately $1.1 
billion has been allocated to SBInet and $2.4 billion to tactical 
infrastructure.[Footnote 3] 

SBInet surveillance technologies are to include sensors, cameras, and 
radars. The command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) 
technologies are to include software and hardware to produce a Common 
Operating Picture (COP)--a uniform presentation of activities within 
specific areas along the border. SBInet technology is to be initially 
deployed in two geographic areas --designated as Tucson-1 and Ajo-1-- 
within the Tucson sector.[Footnote 4] In September 2006, CBP awarded a 
prime contract for SBInet development to the Boeing Company for 3 
years, with three additional 1-year options. As of July 8, 2009, CBP 
had awarded 13 task orders to Boeing for a total amount of 
approximately $1.1 billion.[Footnote 5] 

In addition to deploying technology across the southwest border, DHS 
planned to deploy 370 miles of single-layer pedestrian fencing and 300 
miles of vehicle fencing by December 31, 2008. Pedestrian fencing is 
designed to prevent people on foot from crossing the border and vehicle 
fencing consists of physical barriers meant to stop the entry of 
vehicles. In September 2008, DHS revised its goal, committing instead 
to having 661 miles either built, under construction, or under contract 
by December 31, 2008, but did not set a goal for the number of miles it 
planned to build by December 31, 2008. Although some tactical 
infrastructure exists in all the southwest border sectors, most of what 
has been built through the SBI program is located in the San Diego, 
Yuma, Tucson, El Paso, and Rio Grande Valley sectors. 

My testimony is based on a report we are publicly releasing today 
[Footnote 6] that is the fourth in a series of interim reports on SBI 
implementation.[Footnote 7] My testimony will discuss the following key 
issues in our report: (1) the extent to which CBP has implemented the 
SBInet technology program and the impact of any delays that have 
occurred, and (2) the extent to which CBP has deployed the SBI tactical 
infrastructure program and assessed its results. Our full report also 
provides a status of SBI program office staffing and the progress the 
office reports in achieving its human capital goals. I will conclude 
with some observations regarding our recommendation and DHS's response. 

For our report, we reviewed program schedules, status reports, and 
previous GAO work and interviewed DHS and CBP officials, including 
representatives of the SBI program office and the tactical 
infrastructure program office; the Border Patrol (a component of CBP); 
and the Department of Interior (DOI). We visited three SBI sites where 
SBInet technology (Project 28) and/or fencing had been deployed at the 
time of our review.[Footnote 8] We determined that funding, staffing, 
and fencing mileage data provided by CBP were sufficiently reliable for 
the purposes of our report. More detailed information on our scope and 
methodology appears in our September 2009 report. Our work was 
performed in accordance with generally accepted government auditing 
standards. 

SBInet Continues to Experience Delays, and Border Patrol Continues to 
Rely on Existing Technology That Has Limitations That Newer Technology 
Is Planned to Overcome: 

SBInet technology capabilities have not yet been deployed and delays 
require the Border Patrol to rely on existing technology for securing 
the border, rather than using newer technology planned to overcome the 
existing technology's limitations. As of September 2006, SBInet 
technology deployment for the southwest border was planned to be 
complete in fiscal year 2009. When last reported in February 2009, the 
completion date had slipped to 2016. In addition, by February 2009, the 
schedule for Tucson-1 and Ajo-1 had slipped from the end of calendar 
year 2008, and final acceptance of Tucson-1 was expected in November 
2009 and Ajo-1 in March 2010. As of April 2009, Tuscon-1 was scheduled 
for final acceptance by December 2009 and Ajo-1 had slipped to June 
2010.[Footnote 9] (See figure 1 for schedule changes over time). 

Figure 1: Depiction of Changes in the SBInet Deployment Schedule from 
September 2006 through May 2009: 

[Refer to PDF for image:: illustration] 

Planned SBInet technology deployment: 
All of southwest border(1993 miles)[A]: 
Estimated completion date: 
Early 2009 (as of September 2006); 
Late 2001 (as of December 2006); 
Middle 2016 (as of February 2009). 

Planned SBInet technology deployment: 
All of Tucson and Yuma (387 miles); 
Estimated completion date: 
Late 2008 (as of December 2006 and October 2007); 
Middle 2011 (as of February 2008 and February 2009). 

Planned SBInet technology deployment: 
El Paso(268 miles); 
Estimated completion date: 
Late 2008 (as of October 2007); 
Middle 2011 (as of February 2008 and February 2009); 
Middle 2012 (as of May 2009). 

Planned SBInet technology deployment: 
Tucson-1—one of two geographic sectors within Tucson sector(23.5 
miles); 
Estimated completion date: 
Late 2008 (as of February 2008); 
Late 2009 (as of December 2008, February 2009, and April 2009); 
Middle 2010 (as of February 2009 and April 2009). 

Planned SBInet technology deployment: 
Ajo-1—one of two geographic sectors within Tucson sector(29.9 miles); 
Estimated completion date: 
Late 2008 (as of February 2008); 
Late 2009 (as of December 2008); 
Early 2010 and Middle 2010 (as of February 2009 and April 2009). 

Planned SBInet technology deployment: 
Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, and Del Rio sectors (697 miles); 
Estimated completion date: 
Late 2009 (as of October 2007); 
Middle 2014 (as of February 2009: complete between 2013 and 2014). 

Planned SBInet technology deployment: 
San Diego and El Centro sectors (130 miles); 
Estimated completion date: 
Early 2009 (as of September 2006); 
Middle 2014 (as of February 2009: complete between 2014 and 2015). 

Planned SBInet technology deployment: 
Marfa sector (510 miles); 
Estimated completion date: 
Early 2009 (as of September 2006); 
Middle 2016 (as of February 2009). 

[A] Miles represent the area of responsibility of the sector(s). 

Source: CBP’s SBI program office and Border Patrol. 

[End of figure] 

Flaws found in testing and concerns about the impact of placing towers 
and access roads in environmentally sensitive locations caused delays. 
By February 2009, preliminary results of testing revealed problems that 
may limit the usefulness of the system for Border Patrol agents, 
including the instability of the camera under adverse weather 
conditions, mechanical problems with the radar at the tower, and issues 
with the sensitivity of the radar. As of May 2009, the SBI program 
office reported that they were still working with Boeing to address 
some issues such as difficulties aligning the radar. 

As a result of the delays, Border Patrol agents continue to use 
existing technology that has limitations, such as performance 
shortfalls and maintenance issues. For example, on the southwest 
border, the Border Patrol relies on existing equipment such as cameras 
mounted on towers that have intermittent problems, including signal 
loss. The Border Patrol has procured and delivered some new technology 
to fill gaps or augment existing equipment. However, incorporating 
SBInet technology as soon as it is operationally available should 
better position CBP to identify and implement operational changes 
needed for securing the border. 

Tactical Infrastructure Deployments Are Almost Complete, but Their 
Impact on Border Security Has Not Been Measured: 

Tactical infrastructure deployments are almost complete, but their 
impact on border security has not been measured. As of June 2009, CBP 
had completed 633 of the 661 miles of fencing it committed to deploy 
along the southwest border (see table 1). However, delays continue 
mainly because of challenges in acquiring the necessary property rights 
from landowners. While fencing costs increased over the course of 
construction, because all construction contracts have been awarded, 
costs are less likely to change. CBP plans to use $110 million in 
fiscal year 2009 funds to build 10 more miles of fencing, and fiscal 
year 2010 and 2011 funds for supporting infrastructure. The life-cycle 
cost study prepared by a contractor for CBP shows that total 20-year 
life-cycle costs are estimated at about $6.5 billion for all tactical 
infrastructure--including pre-SBI infrastructure as well as that 
planned for fiscal years 2009, 2010, and 2011--and consisting of 
deployment and operations and future maintenance costs for the fence, 
roads, and lighting, among other things. 

Table 1: Tactical Infrastructure Deployment Progress as of June 26, 
2009: 

Infrastructure type: Pedestrian fencing; 
Miles in place before SBI[A]: 67; 
Miles deployed through SBI as of 6/26/09: 264; 
Total miles in place as of 6/26/09: 331; 
Target: 358; 
Miles remaining to meet target: 27. 

Infrastructure type: Vehicle fencing; 
Miles in place before SBI[A]: 76; 
Miles deployed through SBI as of 6/26/09: 226; 
Total miles in place as of 6/26/09: 302; 
Target: 303; 
Miles remaining to meet target: 1. 

Infrastructure type: Total fencing; 
Miles in place before SBI[A]: 143; 
Miles deployed through SBI as of 6/26/09: 490; 
Total miles in place as of 6/26/09: 633; 
Target: 661; 
Miles remaining to meet target: 28. 

Source: GAO analysis of SBI data. 

[A] Seventy-eight miles of pedestrian fencing and 57 miles of vehicle 
fencing were in place before the SBI program began. However, since SBI 
began construction, some miles of fencing have been removed, replaced 
or retrofitted resulting in mileage totals that are different from 
those we have reported in earlier reports. 

[End of table] 

CBP reported that tactical infrastructure, coupled with additional 
trained agents, had increased the miles of the southwest border under 
control, but despite a $2.4 billion investment, it cannot account 
separately for the impact of tactical infrastructure. CBP measures 
miles of tactical infrastructure constructed and has completed analyses 
intended to show where fencing is more appropriate than other 
alternatives, such as more personnel, but these analyses were based 
primarily on the judgment of senior Border Patrol agents. Leading 
practices suggest that a program evaluation would complement those 
efforts.[Footnote 10] Until CBP determines the contribution of tactical 
infrastructure to border security, it is not positioned to address the 
impact of this investment. In our report, we recommended that to 
improve the quality of information available to allocate resources and 
determine tactical infrastructure's contribution to effective control 
of the border, the Commissioner of CBP conduct a cost-effective 
evaluation of the impact of tactical infrastructure on effective 
control of the border. 

DHS concurred with our recommendation and described actions recently 
completed, under way, and planned that the agency said will address our 
recommendation. For example, DHS commented that it is considering using 
independent researchers to conduct evaluations and considering using 
modeling and simulation technology to gauge the effects of resource 
deployments. We believe that such efforts would be consistent with our 
recommendation, further complement performance management initiatives, 
and be useful to inform resource decision making. 

This concludes my prepared testimony. I would be pleased to respond to 
any questions that members of the subcommittee may have. 

Contacts and Acknowledgments: 

For further information regarding this testimony, please contact 
Richard M. Stana at (202) 512-8777 or stanar@gao.gov. In addition, 
contact points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public 
Affairs may be found on the last page of this statement. Individuals 
who made key contributions to this testimony are Assistant Director 
Susan Quinlan, Sylvia Bascopé, and Katherine Davis. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] At a port of entry location, CBP officers secure the flow of people 
and cargo into and out of the country, while facilitating legitimate 
travel and trade. 

[2] The SBI Program Executive Office, referred to in this testimony as 
the SBI program office, has overall responsibility for overseeing all 
SBI activities for acquisition and implementation, including 
establishing and meeting program goals, objectives, and schedules for 
overseeing contractor performance,and for coordinating among DHS 
agencies. However, as of March 2009, the tactical infrastructure 
program office was realigned and is now managed on a day-to-day basis 
by CBP's Office of Finance Facilities Management and Engineering 
division. 

[3] Remaining funds were allocated to program management and 
environmental requirements. 

[4] The U.S. Border Patrol has 20 sectors in which it is responsible 
for detecting, interdicting, and apprehending those who engage in 
illegal activity across U.S. borders between official ports of entry. 

[5] See appendix II of our September 2009 report--GAO, Secure Border 
Initiative: Technology Deployment Delays Persist and the Impact of 
Border Fencing Has Not Been Assessed, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-896] (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 9. 
2009)--for a summary of the task orders awarded to Boeing for SBI 
projects. 

[6] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-896]. 

[7] GAO, Secure Border Initiative: Observations on Selected Aspects of 
SBInet Program Implementation, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-131T] (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 24, 
2007); Secure Border Initiative: Observations on the Importance of 
Applying Lessons Learned to Future Projects, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-508T] (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 27, 
2008); and Secure Border Initiative: Observations on Deployment 
Challenges, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-1141T] 
(Washington, D.C.: Sept. 10, 2008); GAO-09-896. 

[8] Project 28 was an effort to provide a technology system with the 
capabilities to control 28 miles of the border in Arizona. 

[9] The SBI program office defines final acceptance as the SBI program 
office taking ownership of the SBInet technology system from the 
contractor and comes before handing the technology over to Border 
Patrol. 

[10] In program evaluation, scientific research methods are used to 
establish a causal connection between program activities and outcomes 
and to isolate the program's contributions to them. GAO, Program 
Evaluation: Studies Helped Agencies Measure or Explain Program 
Performance, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/GGD-00-204] 
(Washington, D.C.: Sept. 2000). 

[End of section] 

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