Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 7, 2008

What Awaits Dems at DHS Part II: SBInet

Filed under: Border Security,Technology for HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 7, 2008

SBInet is intended to become an integrated system of personnel, infrastructure, technology, and rapid response measures to secure the northern and southern land borders of the U.S. by replacing two former programs, America’s Shield Initiative and the Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System. Both of these programs had similar goals, but were ended due to mismanagement and failure of equipment. Former Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson played a large role initiating SBInet.

DHS estimates that it will need $7.6 billion through 2011 to acquire and deploy the necessary technology and fencing along the Southwest border to carry out SBInet. The first phase of SBInet, called Project 28, is intended to demonstrate SBInet technology across a 28-mile stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border.

SBInet is managed by Boeing with subcontractors Centech Group, DRS Technologies, Kollsman, L-3 Communications Government Services Inc., L-3 Communication Systems – West, LGS, Perot Systems, Unisys Global Public Sector, and USIS.

The SBInet contract runs through September 30, 2009, with three one-year options. The cost of Project 28 is estimated at $67 million. The value of Boeing’s three-year contract to build SBInet is estimated to be between $2 billion and $8 billion. Greggory L. Giddens Mark Borkowski is the current executive director of the SBI Program Management Office at CBP.

Boeing planned to have Project 28 operational in June 2007. Problems with software and other technology led to high profile delays. With Project 28 implementation delayed until October 2007, Secretary Chertoff told a Congressional hearing that he is “not going to buy something with U.S. government money unless I’m satisfied it works in the real world.” He added, “And if it can’t be made to work, I’m prepared to go and find something that will be made to work, although I’ll obviously be disappointed.”

The system is designed to detect a “target” with radar, and then use video cameras to determine whether the radar encountered a person, vehicle, or an animal. In February 2008, the GAO reported that radar readings were too slow and were being triggered by rain and other weather-related false alarms. Moreover, camera couldn’t identify subjects beyond 3.1 miles.

Senior members of the Senate (i.e. Lieberman, Collins, Akaka, Voinovich) have expressed concerns about SBInet’s management challenges. The senators also cited an over-reliance on contractors as one of their chief concerns, raising issues about whether DHS can properly oversee the project.

So can it work? Border patrol agents began using SBInet in December 2007, and the system was officially accepted by DHS in February 2008. Boeing was awarded further contracts to upgrade software and hardware, which I believe still expects to have done by the end of 2008.

CORRECTION: Thanks to reader D.O., please note that Greg Giddens was succeeded as head of the SBI Program Office by Mark Borkowski, a retired USAF Col. who served previously as director of mission support for the U.S. border patrol. Giddens left Sept. 19 to become executive director of facilities management and engineering for CBP.

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2 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 7, 2008 @ 11:32 am

Do we really know what the Bush end-game on border security was? Do we know OBAMA’s opening game!

Personally I think illegal immigration issues should be addressed with the exception of Mexico which if I am correct provides at least 40% of illegal immigration. The exception for Mexico is driven by economics, humanity, and effectiveness and efficiency. Time for school children to learn of the Joint evolution of Mexico and the US and how we are linked inextricably and their fate is ours. We should look at the relationship anew. A sealed border could end up with Mexican revolution. They need our help and we need their help. If necessary consider everything from dual citizenship to other approaches. Nothing should be left out of a renewed approach. Too many Mexicans have US relationships and too many Americans have Mexican relations that need to be fostered not punished. Mexico got sandbagged by the rise of China and the manufacturing economy of the East Asians. Now time to recoginize that our economic policy nothing else (igoring Mexican unemployment and US unemployment as as a single issue with different facets). Since acting first and thinking later has been revealed as very damaging to US economy and US interests perhaps we can get some real reform on Mexican and US relationships. Here is hoping that OBAMA first foreign visit is to Mexico and wonder if he has ever been there!

Comment by Christopher Tingus

November 8, 2008 @ 4:55 am

It is with hope that President-elect Obama will heed your advice and this “dual-citizenship” idea and the integral relationship we do share with Mexico is vital.

While I have not been a proponent of further opening our borders to illegal immigrants, a new policy of requirements should be implemented with more monies supportive of this new policy afforded.

While here in New England we are distant from this relationship as of course we have Plymouth Rock at our door step and we have always looked east from our shores across the great pond, not to the south, both US and Mexican officials should strive to promote the substantial history, the contributions of both and importance of this Mexican-US kinship.

Your points are well intended and with friends in the new administration, I will share and forward your comments for their serious consideration and to President-elect Obama who may already have read your enlightened comments in this always informative blog!

Your obvious invaluable experience with issues at DHS and FEMA as we all read your many articles would best serve all of us if you werer chosen as a senior advisor. We the citizens realize the importance of these issues and look forward to sich leadership to finally bring such valued solutions to address border and other related DHS concerns.

Christopher Tingus
Harwich, MA 02645 USA

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