Border Security Rife With Cost Overruns and Delays, Efforts Made to Correct

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) recently wrote draft legislation called the DHS Acquisition Accountability and Efficiency Act, which would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be more accountable financially and more transparent in the management of its acquisition program.

Duncan is Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency. In September, the Congressman said, "As of late 2012, over a third of DHS programs sustained 'high' to 'significant' cost increases, all while DHS chose to move forward with a strategy to buy systems and services that are unaffordable." 

Following the hearing, Duncan released a statement that said, "Congressional watchdogs found 21 IT programs with cost or schedule problems, poor TSA management of its 'body scanners' and canine teams, mismanagement of a $3 billion effort to improve DHS' radio systems, and failure to convert DHS H-60 helicopters in a coordinated and cost-efficient manner."

"It is difficult to determine the cost of the department’s major acquisition programs because the department has not provided consistent, comparable updates on an annual basis," the new draft legislation says. "As of January 2014, the department identified over 80 major acquisition programs costing over $300,000,000, and, based on 2011, estimates it plans to spend about $170,000,000,000 in the future on major acquisition programs... Many programs continue to experience challenges with funding instability, workforce shortfalls, reliable cost estimates, realistic schedules, agreed-upon baseline objectives and consistent and reliable data needed to accurately measure program performance."

Sylvia Longmire, Breitbart Texas’ contributing editor and border security expert said, "The DHS has just not hired enough skilled contract managers over the years to ensure the US government is getting the best deal possible, and isn't being scammed by the prime contractor. It's upsetting that actual legislation needs to be proposed to keep a government agency from overspending our tax dollars, but at least someone is taking this initiative."

The DHS' acquisition management has made the "High-Risk List," compiled by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), annually since 2005. This list identifies government agencies rife with waste, fraud, and abuse. According to the GAO, 42 out of the DHS' 77 acquisition programs continue to increase in cost or experience "schedule slips." 

"Efforts to secure the border are ripe with examples of cost overruns and delays; the most obvious of which is the Secure Border Initiative's virtual fence, which cost $1 billion and ended up being scrapped after five years," Longmire said. 

As Breitbart News reported last week, in 2006 the federal government spent $1 billion to build a virtual fence, which spanned 53 miles of the Arizona border -- each mile cost over $18.5 million to cover. The project was abandoned in 2011 because it "was plagued with delays, cost overruns, difficulty in dealing with prime contractor Boeing, and general financial mismanagement."

Despite the failure, a plan to install 350 miles of virtual fencing along the Arizona-Mexico border was approved by an Arizona House panel on Monday. The endeavor would receive $30 million in funding but could also include an additional $260,000 in donations collected by the state. The plan will next be reviewed by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate


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