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Highlights

The technology component of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Secure Border Initiative (SBI), referred to as SBInet, is to put observing systems along our nation's borders and provide Border Patrol command centers with the imagery and related tools and information needed in deciding whether to deploy agents. SBInet is being acquired and deployed in incremental blocks of capability, with the first block to cost about $1.3 billion. Because of the program's importance, size, and challenges, GAO was asked to, among other things, determine the extent to which DHS has (1) defined the scope of its proposed SBInet solution, (2) developed a reliable schedule for this solution, (3) demonstrated the cost-effectiveness of this solution, and (4) acquired the solution using key management processes. To do this, GAO compared key program documentation to relevant guidance and industry practices.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security To address the considerable risks and uncertainties facing DHS on its SBInet program, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to limit future investment in the program to only work that meets one or both of the following two conditions: (1) is already under contract and supports deployment, acceptance, and operational evaluation of only those Block 1 capabilities (functions and performance levels) that are currently targeted for Tucson Border Patrol Station (TUS-1) and Ajo Border Patrol Station (AJO-1); or (2) provides the analytical basis for informing a departmental decision as to what, if any, expanded investment in SBInet, both in terms of capabilities (functions and performance) and deployment locations, represents a prudent, responsible, and affordable use of resources for achieving the department's border security and immigration management mission.
Closed - Implemented
Between August 2007 and January 2010 GAO had ongoing conversations with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials regarding a range of management weaknesses and program risks--including continued schedule slippages and uncertain program costs and justification--associated with the design, development, and deployment of DHS's Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet). In January 2010, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano ordered a department-wide assessment of the SBInet program to include an analysis of other potential alternatives for addressing security on the southwest border. The Secretary's decision 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. On March 16, 2010, eleven days after receiving a draft of our report which contained this recommendation, DHS Secretary Napolitano froze fiscal year 2010 funding for any development or deployment work beyond the first two SBInet installations, pending the results of the department-wide assessment. At that time, she also redirected $35 million of Recovery Act funding originally allocated for SBInet technology to other border technology. Subsequently, on August 13, 2010, Congress rescinded $100,000,000 of the frozen funds from SBInet. In addition, on October 4, 2010, DHS redirected another $11 million of frozen funds, plus an additional $30 million of operations and maintenance funds, from SBInet to legacy fencing. In January 2011, DHS completed its assessment of SBInet and, based on the results, Secretary Napolitano decided to end SBInet as originally conceived.
Department of Homeland Security To address the considerable risks and uncertainties facing DHS on its SBInet program, with respect to the condition of the program's work being already under contract and supporting deployment, acceptance, and operational evaluation of only those Block 1 capabilities (functions and performance levels) that are currently targeted for TUS-1 and AJO-1 to limit future investment, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to have the SBI Executive Director make it a program priority to ensure that the integrated master schedule for delivering Block 1 capabilities to TUS-1 and AJO-1 is revised to address the key schedule estimating practices discussed in this report.
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 To address the considerable risks and uncertainties facing DHS on its SBInet program, with respect to the condition of the program's work being already under contract and supporting deployment, acceptance, and operational evaluation of only those Block 1 capabilities (functions and performance levels) that are currently targeted for TUS-1 and AJO-1 to limit future investment, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to have the SBI Executive Director make it a program priority to ensure that the currently defined Block 1 requirements, including key performance parameters, are independently validated as complete, verifiable, and affordable and any limitations found in the requirements are addressed.
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 To address the considerable risks and uncertainties facing DHS on its SBInet program, with respect to the condition of the program's work being already under contract and supporting deployment, acceptance, and operational evaluation of only those Block 1 capabilities (functions and performance levels) that are currently targeted for TUS-1 and AJO-1 to limit future investment, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to have the SBI Executive Director make it a program priority to ensure that the Systems Engineering Plan is revised to include or reference documentation templates for key artifacts required at milestone gate reviews.
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 To address the considerable risks and uncertainties facing DHS on its SBInet program, with respect to the condition of the program's work being already under contract and supporting deployment, acceptance, and operational evaluation of only those Block 1 capabilities (functions and performance levels) that are currently targeted for TUS-1 and AJO-1 to limit future investment, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to have the SBI Executive Director make it a program priority to ensure that all parent requirements that have been closed are supported by evidence of the closure of all corresponding and associated child requirements.
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 To address the considerable risks and uncertainties facing DHS on its SBInet program, with respect to the condition of the program's work being already under contract and supporting deployment, acceptance, and operational evaluation of only those Block 1 capabilities (functions and performance levels) that are currently targeted for TUS-1 and AJO-1 to limit future investment, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to have the SBI Executive Director make it a program priority to ensure that all significant risks facing the program are captured, mitigated, tracked, and periodically reported to DHS and congressional decision makers.
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 To address the considerable risks and uncertainties facing DHS on its SBInet program, with respect to the condition of the program's work providing the analytical basis for informing a departmental decision as to what, if any, expanded investment in SBInet, both in terms of capabilities (functions and performance) and deployment locations, represents a prudent, responsible, and affordable use of resources for achieving the department's border security and immigration management mission to limit future investment in the program, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to have the SBI Executive Director make it a program priority to ensure that a life cycle cost estimate for any incremental block of SBInet capabilities that is to include capabilities and cover locations beyond those associated with the TUS-1 and AJO-1 deployments is developed in a manner that reflects the four characteristics of a reliable estimate discussed in this report.
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 To address the considerable risks and uncertainties facing DHS on its SBInet program, with respect to the condition of the program's work providing the analytical basis for informing a departmental decision as to what, if any, expanded investment in SBInet, both in terms of capabilities (functions and performance) and deployment locations, represents a prudent, responsible, and affordable use of resources for achieving the department's border security and immigration management mission to limit future investment in the program, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to have the SBI Executive Director make it a program priority to ensure that a forecast of the qualitative and quantitative benefits to be derived from any such incremental block of SBInet over its useful life, or reasons why such forecasts are not currently possible, are developed and documented.
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 To address the considerable risks and uncertainties facing DHS on its SBInet program, with respect to the condition of the program's work providing the analytical basis for informing a departmental decision as to what, if any, expanded investment in SBInet, both in terms of capabilities (functions and performance) and deployment locations, represents a prudent, responsible, and affordable use of resources for achieving the department's border security and immigration management mission to limit future investment in the program, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to have the SBI Executive Director make it a program priority to ensure that the estimated life cycle costs and benefits and associated net present value of any such incremental block of SBInet capabilities, or reasons why such an economic analysis cannot be performed, are prepared and documented.
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 To address the considerable risks and uncertainties facing DHS on its SBInet program, with respect to the condition of the program's work providing the analytical basis for informing a departmental decision as to what, if any, expanded investment in SBInet, both in terms of capabilities (functions and performance) and deployment locations, represents a prudent, responsible, and affordable use of resources for achieving the department's border security and immigration management mission to limit future investment in the program, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to have the SBI Executive Director make it a program priority to ensure that the results of these analyses, or the documented reasons why such analyses cannot be provided, are provided to the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the DHS Acquisition Review Board.
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 To address the considerable risks and uncertainties facing DHS on its SBInet program, with respect to the second condition of the program's work providing the analytical basis for informing a departmental decision as to what, if any, expanded investment in SBInet, both in terms of capabilities (functions and performance) and deployment locations, represents a prudent, responsible, and affordable use of resources for achieving the department's border security and immigration management mission to limit future investment in the program, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, as the Chair of the DHS Acquisition Review Board, to decide, in consultation with the board and Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, what, if any, expanded investment in SBInet, both in terms of capabilities (functions and performance) and deployment locations, represents a prudent, responsible, and affordable use of resources for achieving the department's border security and immigration management mission.
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 To address the considerable risks and uncertainties facing DHS on its SBInet program, with respect to the second condition of the program's work providing the analytical basis for informing a departmental decision as to what, if any, expanded investment in SBInet, both in terms of capabilities (functions and performance) and deployment locations, represents a prudent, responsible, and affordable use of resources for achieving the department's border security and immigration management mission to limit future investment in the program, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, as the Chair of the DHS Acquisition Review Board, to report the decision, and the basis for it, to the department's authorization and appropriations committees.
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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