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Highlights

The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet) is to place surveillance systems along our nation's borders and provide Border Patrol command centers with the imagery and related tools and information needed to detect breaches and make agent deployment decisions. To deliver SBInet, DHS has relied heavily on its prime contractor. Because of the importance of effective contractor management and oversight to SBInet, GAO was asked to determine the extent to which DHS (1) defined and implemented effective controls for managing and overseeing the prime contractor and (2) effectively monitored the contractor's progress in meeting cost and schedule expectations. To do this, GAO analyzed key program documentation against relevant guidance and best practices, and interviewed program officials.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security To improve DHS management and oversight of the SBInet prime contractor, 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 and implement, as applicable, contractor deliverable review processes and practices to ensure that (1) contractor deliverables are thoroughly reviewed and are not constrained by late contractor deliverables and imposed milestones, (2) the reviews are sufficiently documented, and (3) the acceptance or the rejection of each contractor deliverable is communicated in writing to the contractor, to include explicit explanations of the basis for any rejections.
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 improve DHS management and oversight of the SBInet prime contractor, 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 applicable entry and exit criteria for each technical review are used and satisfied before initiating and concluding, respectively, a given review.
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 improve DHS management and oversight of the SBInet prime contractor, 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 establish and validate timely, complete, and accurate performance measurement baselines for each new task order or major modification of an existing task order, as appropriate, to include, but not be limited to, ensuring that (1) the work breakdown structure includes all work to be performed, (2) baseline schedules reflect the key schedule estimating practices discussed in this report, and (3) level-of-effort performance measurement in excess of 15 percent is scrutinized, justified, and minimized.
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 improve DHS management and oversight of the SBInet prime contractor, 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 all anomalies in contractor-delivered monthly earned value management reports are identified and explained, and report periodically to DHS acquisition leadership on relevant trends in the number of unexplained anomalies.
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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