DHS Inspector General has concerns about SBInet oversight

Thursday, November 23, 2006

WASHINGTON--The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General released a report last week saying DHS "does not have the capacity needed to effectively plan, oversee, and execute the SBInet program; administer its contracts; and control costs and schedule." This is likely to draw congressional eyes increasingly toward Boeing, which won an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to improve border control operations with modern technology and trained personnel.
A 2006 Report Card on the Department of Homeland Security prepared by Democratic Staff of the Committee on Homeland Security, issued earlier this year, stated that, "As the Department moves forward with SBI, it is imperative given the past problems associated with contract management and deployment ... that the Department also put appropriate management controls and contract oversight systems in place to ensure that the government does not procure equipment and technology that will not fulfill its critical border security needs and lead to further waste."
With Democrats now controlling both houses of Congress, it is likely that statements like the following from the OIG will be cause for attention: "Although the Department is taking the necessary steps to mitigate many of the attendant risks associated with a performance-based contract, much more work remains before adequate controls are in place to ensure effective contract oversight and implementation."
The inherent problem, the OIG report says, is that DHS "had not established, prior to awarding the contract, the organizational capacity to oversee, manage, and execute the program, or properly defined, validated, and stabilized its operational requirements."
Interestingly, the OIG also expressed surprise at the size of the initial award to Boeing. While $100 million was requested in the 2007 federal budget for border security technology, and $1.1 billion was appropriated for tactical infrastructure at the border, OIG cites estimates of the SBInet value range "from $8 billion to $30 billion."