Border Protection Screening Program…4 Years Late, Cost and Deadline are Still Unknown

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The federal government has been trying to upgrade its computer system that supports border protection efforts for years without success, leaving the program now up in the air as far as completion and final cost.


Known as TECS (pdf) (which is not an acronym), the system is utilized by two wings of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS): Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).


CBP uses it to screen people at border checkpoints, such as comparing names against terrorist watch-lists. ICE relies on it to manage case files for investigations into money laundering, online pornography and other criminal actions.


But the technology behind TECS is said to be obsolete, which is why the agencies have wanted to modernize the system. That effort was estimated to cost more than $1.5 billion, back in 2008.


But, like so many other federal IT projects, the upgrade has not gone according to plan.


Delays prompted the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to look into TECS, and its audit (pdf) found that CBP officials couldn’t say when their end of the project would be completed or how much it’s going to cost.


CBP originally said their fixes would require $724 million. ICE, on the other hand, determined that its technology solution wasn’t going to work, prompting the agency to completely redo its schedule, cost and scope of the project. Their initial price tag was $818 million.


The GAO took both agencies to task for mismanagement of the program requirements, including a failure to identify all known risks for review. DHS’s oversight of the TECS programs was described by the GAO as being largely ineffective because it was occasionally based on inaccurate or incomplete data.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Modernizing DHS Border Enforcement Systems May Cost More Than $1.5 Billion (Homeland Security News Wire)

Border Security: DHS’s Efforts to Modernize Key Enforcement Systems Could be Strengthened (Government Accountability Office) (pdf)

Federal Judge Rules that Border Patrol Does Not Need Reasonable Suspicion to Confiscate Laptops and Phones (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Nuclear Detectors at the Border: Goodbye to $4 Billion (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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