Past Features

October 15, 2017

Border Bureaucracy Shakeup?

Glenn Spencer -- October 15, 2017
Trump reorganization of CBP expected soon
    All indications are that President Trump will soon announce major changes in the management of our border systems. The strongest indication of such changes came on October 4, when the Senate Committee on Homeland Security approved a bill sponsored by Sen. McCain that stripped control of large border technology programs from Customs and Border Protection.
    In a press release from his office, dated January 12, 2017, McCain said:
     "New technologies such as video and radar surveillance are critical to securing our borders, However, widespread mismanagement and a lack of accountability within our federal bureaucracy have prevented us from using these technologies to stop illegal immigration, put an end to human trafficking, and reduce crime in communities in Arizona and across the Southwest."  
    As the premier CBP new technology effort that uses both video and radar, McCain seems to be referring to the Integrated Fixed Tower project.
    In June, the DHS Office of Inspector General issued a Special Report that included a 2014 GAO finding that CBP had not properly tested the Integrated Fixed Towers.
    As I reported earlier, the entire IFT project seems to have been designed without the means to test true effectiveness.
    Early results of on-going tests of the IFTs may have led the Senate Committee to pass McCain's bill on October 4, although we cannot be sure of this.
    Then there is the matter of the prototypes of the Trump Wall going up near San Diego. Construction of five prototypes was well underway on October 4, including one “other than concrete” version.
    Of the remaining three prototypes, two are to be built by companies with no known experience in border barrier systems. Both have strong ties to foreign countries.
    We have yet to see construction begin on those prototypes.
    Moreover, two major border fence contractors were kept out of the bidding process by threats from California cities. It is difficult to believe that Attorney General Sessions would simply shrug this off.
    I will not be surprised if President Trump makes some major changes in CBP's selection of prototype walls, while at the same time announcing a major shakeup of that organization.
    This could come in the next two weeks.