*BREAKING* DHS cancels SBInet

The SBInet program is no more, the Homeland Security Department announced January 14. Instead, the department will launch a new border security technology approach, “which will utilize existing, proven technology tailored to the distinct terrain and population density of each border region,” DHS says in a fact sheet (.pdf).

“SBInet cannot meet its original objective of providing a single, integrated border security technology solution,” said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano in a prepared statement.

SBInet was an effort to blanket U.S. borders with a chain of radars, cameras and heat and motion detectors, allowing border patrol agents to work from a common operational picture. SBInet has cost $1.9 billion so far, or 564 percent more than the initial projected cost, according to a Government Accountability Office estimate. Program officials instantiated SBInet technology across 53 miles of Arizona’s Mexican border. The prime contractor was Boeing (NYSE: BA), which received a contract in September 2006. Boeing will remain on contract through September 2011 to support activities including maintenance of current SBInet systems, mobile surveillance systems maintenance, completion of remote video surveillance systems along the northern border, construction of fence in Arizona, and storage of steel for future fence construction and repair, according to DHS.

DHS’s new approach will utilize mobile surveillance systems, unmanned aircraft systems, thermal imaging devices and tower-based remote video surveillance systems. All those systems, except UASs, were part of SBInet. Customs and Border Protection plans to hold a full and open competition to procure the technology.

The new approach should cost about $750 million to cover the remaining 323 miles of the Arizona border, DHS says in a report (.pdf) on SBInet. DHS will redirect funding originally intended for SBInet–including fiscal 2011 SBInet funds–to the new border security technology effort, the report adds.


Do you think SBInet has, in fact, failed to deliver? What do you think of the new approach proposed by DHS? Looking forward to the discussion below…

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Matthew Stephen Worner

Realize I’m not speaking in any official capacity… my opinions are my own and not that of my employer. There aren’t going to be a whole lot of new systems in the Obama Administration (in tight budget times, decision-makers look for pots of money to cut… and IT spending is one of them). Consolidation of systems and use of similar technologies will be the key for the next couple of years. The federal budget just isn’t going to allow for increased IT expenditures.

Eric Melton

I mentioned this thought to an SBI Project Mgr in my PMI group locally too.. but – (thinking outside the box…. or more specifically on both sides of the fence)…

Has anyone thought about maybe seeking to place some camera towers on the Mexican side? It may be cheaper to do on their side, as many things are. If so, perhaps some cost avoidance could be had by scissoring – placing every other tower on the Mexican side.

Last time I said this I got weird looks.

But to my thinking, in the business of securing a border, step #1 is to seek partnership with the other side!


Molly Walker

That’s a good point, Eric. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! … I wonder if Mexican collaboration on this has suffered at all in the wake of leaked diplomatic wires to Wikileaks.