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Secure Border Initiative: Testing and Problem Resolution Challenges Put Delivery of Technology Program at Risk

GAO-10-511T Published: Mar 18, 2010. Publicly Released: Mar 18, 2010.
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This testimony is based on our report "Secure Border Initiative: DHS Needs to Address Testing and Performance Limitations That Place Key Technology Program at Risk." In September 2008, we reported to Congress that important aspects of SBInet were ambiguous and in a continuous state of flux, making it unclear and uncertain what technology capabilities were to be delivered when. In addition, the program did not have an approved integrated master schedule to guide the program's execution, and key milestones continued to slip. This schedule-related risk was exacerbated by the continuous change in and the absence of a clear definition of the approach used to define, develop, acquire, test, and deploy SBInet. Furthermore, different levels of SBInet requirements were not properly aligned, and all requirements had not been properly defined and validated. Also, the program office had not tested the individual system components to be deployed to initial locations, even though the contractor had initiated integration testing of these components with other system components and subsystems, and its test management strategy did not contain, among other things, a clear definition of testing roles and responsibilities; or sufficient detail to effectively guide planning for specific test events, such as milestones and metrics. Accordingly, we made recommendations to address these weaknesses which DHS largely agreed to implement. In light of SBInet's important mission, high cost, and risks, you asked us to conduct a series of four SBInet reviews. This statement and report being released today provide the results for the first of these reviews. Specifically, they address (1) the extent to which SBInet testing has been effectively managed, including identifying the types of tests performed and whether they were well planned and executed; (2) what the results of testing show; and (3) what processes are being used to test and incorporate maturing technologies into SBInet.

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