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Highlights

The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet) is a multiyear, multibillion dollar program to deliver surveillance and decision-support technologies that create a virtual fence and situational awareness along the nation's borders with Mexico and Canada. Managed by DHS's Customs and Border Protection (CBP), SBInet is to strengthen CBP's ability to identify, deter, and respond to illegal breaches at and between border points of entry. Because of the program's importance, cost, and risks, GAO was asked to, among other things, determine (1) whether SBInet testing has been effectively managed, including the types of tests performed and whether they were well planned and executed, and (2) what the results of testing show. To do this, GAO reviewed test management documentation, including test plans, test cases, test procedures, and results relative to federal and related guidance, and interviewed program and contractor officials.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security 1. To improve DHS's management of SBInet testing, including the risk-based resolution of current and to-be-detected system problems, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to have the SBI Executive Director, in collaboration with the SBInet Program Director, to revise the SBInet Test and Evaluation Master Plan to include (1) explicit criteria for assessing the quality of test documentation, including test plans and test cases, and (2) a process for analyzing, prioritizing, and resolving program defects.
Closed - Implemented
In January 2010, the Secretary of Homeland Security initiated an assessment of the SBInet program. The assessment was motivated in part by continuing delays in the development and deployment of SBInet capabilities and concerns that the SBInet system had not been adequately justified by a quantitative assessment of cost and benefits. Between January 2010 and January 2011, we reported on a variety of management weaknesses that contributed to the Secretary's concerns, including inadequate acquisition management practices--test management, requirements management, and risk management--shrinking system capabilities, and the lack of effective contractor oversight and economic justification for the program; and we made associated recommendations with which DHS largely agreed. In January 2011, DHS completed its assessment and decided to end SBInet as originally conceived. We consider DHS's decision to discontinue the SBInet program a prudent course of action, and responsive to the many recommendations we made to address the wide array of identified weaknesses.
Department of Homeland Security 2. To improve DHS's management of SBInet testing, including the risk-based resolution of current and to-be-detected system problems, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to have the SBI Executive Director, in collaboration with the SBInet Program Director, to ensure that test schedules, plans, cases, and procedures are adequately reviewed and approved consistent with the revised Test and Evaluation Master Plan.
Closed - Implemented
In January 2010, the Secretary of Homeland Security initiated an assessment of the SBInet program. The assessment was motivated in part by continuing delays in the development and deployment of SBInet capabilities and concerns that the SBInet system had not been adequately justified by a quantitative assessment of cost and benefits. Between January 2010 and January 2011, we reported on a variety of management weaknesses that contributed to the Secretary's concerns, including inadequate acquisition management practices--test management, requirements management, and risk management--shrinking system capabilities, and the lack of effective contractor oversight and economic justification for the program; and we made associated recommendations with which DHS largely agreed. In January 2011, DHS completed its assessment and decided to end SBInet as originally conceived. We consider DHS's decision to discontinue the SBInet program a prudent course of action, and responsive to the many recommendations we made to address the wide array of identified weaknesses.
Department of Homeland Security 3. To improve DHS's management of SBInet testing, including the risk-based resolution of current and to-be-detected system problems, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to have the SBI Executive Director, in collaboration with the SBInet Program Director, to ensure that sufficient time is provided for reviewing and approving test documentation prior to beginning a given test event.
Closed - Implemented
In January 2010, the Secretary of Homeland Security initiated an assessment of the SBInet program. The assessment was motivated in part by continuing delays in the development and deployment of SBInet capabilities and concerns that the SBInet system had not been adequately justified by a quantitative assessment of cost and benefits. Between January 2010 and January 2011, we reported on a variety of management weaknesses that contributed to the Secretary's concerns, including inadequate acquisition management practices--test management, requirements management, and risk management--shrinking system capabilities, and the lack of effective contractor oversight and economic justification for the program; and we made associated recommendations with which DHS largely agreed. In January 2011, DHS completed its assessment and decided to end SBInet as originally conceived. We consider DHS's decision to discontinue the SBInet program a prudent course of action, and responsive to the many recommendations we made to address the wide array of identified weaknesses.
Department of Homeland Security 4. To improve DHS's management of SBInet testing, including the risk-based resolution of current and to-be-detected system problems, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to have the SBI Executive Director, in collaboration with the SBInet Program Director, to triage the full inventory of unresolved system problems, including identified user concerns, and periodically report the status of the highest priority defects to Customs and Border Protection and Department of Homeland Security leadership.
Closed - Implemented
In January 2010, the Secretary of Homeland Security initiated an assessment of the SBInet program. The assessment was motivated in part by continuing delays in the development and deployment of SBInet capabilities and concerns that the SBInet system had not been adequately justified by a quantitative assessment of cost and benefits. Between January 2010 and January 2011, we reported on a variety of management weaknesses that contributed to the Secretary's concerns, including inadequate acquisition management practices--test management, requirements management, and risk management--shrinking system capabilities, and the lack of effective contractor oversight and economic justification for the program; and we made associated recommendations with which DHS largely agreed. In January 2011, DHS completed its assessment and decided to end SBInet as originally conceived. We consider DHS's decision to discontinue the SBInet program a prudent course of action, and responsive to the many recommendations we made to address the wide array of identified weaknesses.

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