“Virtual Fence”/Government Accountability Office

The Secure Border Initiative was passed in 2005 and was designed to establish secure borders between Mexico and the United States. Information regarding the SBI can found here. The SBI was intended to fund border patrol staffing increases, build infrastructure, remove illegal immigrants within the country, and fund a new string of technological censors to help track immigrants moving across the border. The last objective was dubbed the “virtual fence” by the media and is called SBInet by the department of Customs and Border Protection.

The Government Accountability Office is a government agency in charge of providing investigative information for Congress. They review government agencies and programs and check for illegal practices or inefficient spending. The GAO’s latest target has been the SBInet program, or the “virtual fence.” A 63 page report was released on November 6, and there were various faults found in the virtual fence progress.

A highlight of the report cited many issues with the program, especially with the contractor in charge of building the fence, Boeing. The report states that Boeing has not been meeting program deadlines and has also gone over the given budget. In addition, insufficient information about the progress of the fence was given to the Department of Homeland Security from the contractor. This contributed to the inability for the DHS to accurately measure the progress and cost of the project.

The Washington Times reported on the document released by the GAO and previous SBInet progressions. The point was raised that this was not the first time that the government accountability office had stated its concerns over the virtual fence program. The article stated that the initial completion date for the fence was 2009 while the GAO prediction was 2016. It was in the wake of these previous alerts that Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, issued the call for the review of the program in January. Boeing Co. was briefly quoted in the article, stating that it had made “significant progress” in attempts to follow the guidelines supplied by the DHS.

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