Homeland Security, Boeing faulted for border project problems

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The Department of Homeland Security has failed to adequately oversee Boeing Co.’s work on a troubled high-tech border security system, a government report released Monday said.

Boeing is the prime contractor working on the Secure Border Initiative Network, an ambitious, multibillion-dollar project to outfit the Southwest border fence with high-tech radar, cameras and satellite signals. The project, begun in 2005, has been plagued with serious system failures and repeated delays.


Monday’s Government Accountability Office report said that Homeland Security had not properly monitored Boeing’s progress in meeting deadlines and that some “essential controls” hadnever been implemented. These failures, the GAO said, have been “a major contributor to the SBInet program’s well-chronicled history of not delivering promised system capabilities on time and on budget.”

In a response, Homeland Security called some of the GAO’s assertions “inaccurate” but agreed that its management of the project could be improved.

The GAO faulted Boeing as well, saying the company provided project information to Homeland Security that was ‘replete with unexplained anomalies, thus rendering the data unfit for effective contractor management and oversight.”

Boeing responded Monday by saying the company had made “significant progress” working with Homeland Security. “We have held to a schedule baseline over the past nine months that has resulted in capabilities that are in the hands of Border Patrol agents right now,” Boeing said.

The GAO urged Homeland Security to schedule regular and thorough reviews of Boeing’s work and to establish performance measures for each part of the border security project.

-- Scott J. Wilson