Homeland Security:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Secure Border Initiative Fiscal Year 2009 Expenditure Plan

GAO-09-274R: Published: Apr 30, 2009. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 2009.

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This letter formally transmits the summary of an oral briefing we gave in response to a mandate in the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009, and subsequent agency comments. This mandate required the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prepare an expenditure plan that satisfied 12 specified conditions, and for the plan to be submitted to and approved by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees before the agency could obligate $400 million of the approximately $775 million appropriated for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) fencing, infrastructure, and technology. In response to this requirement, DHS submitted a plan on March 4, 2009, titled "U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Secure Border Initiative Border Security, Fencing, Infrastructure and Technology (BSFIT) Fiscal Year 2009 Expenditure Plan." As required by the act, we reviewed the plan and on March 12 and March 13, 2009, briefed staff of the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees, respectively, on the analysis of whether the plan satisfied the 12 specified legislative conditions.

In summary, we found that the expenditure plan did not fully satisfy all of the conditions set out by law. Specifically, three of the conditions were satisfied and nine were partially satisfied. Based on the results of our review, we are not making any recommendations for congressional consideration or agency action. In commenting on a draft of this report, DHS stated that it disagreed with our assessment of partially satisfied for three legislative conditions. Specifically, DHS said that we had not considered additional information not included in the plan that it provided that would support an assessment of these legislative conditions as satisfied. Because the legislative requirement required that the expenditure plan (emphasis added) contain information to address the legislative conditions, we limited our assessment to the information in the expenditure plan. Nevertheless, the additional information program officials provided during the course of our review added context, but would not have changed our assessments of these legislative conditions. In response to DHS's comments, we clarified our definitions of satisfied, partially satisfied and not satisfied to make it clear that we relied only on the expenditure plan in making our assessments.

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