Monday, October 22, 2012

Border Patrol Death May Be Result Of Government Gridlock

Posted By on Mon, Oct 22, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Earlier this month, Border Patrol agent Nicolas Ivie was killed when he and two other agents responded to an alarm raised by a faulty ground sensor on Oct. 2nd. Now, the L.A. Times has revealed that Ivie's death may not have occurred had a plan to update security systems along the border not stalled.

From the L.A. Times:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection "must replace outdated sensors with more modern, effective technology that can assist the Border Patrol in securing our borders while not sending agents into the field unnecessarily," said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the senior Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee.

The initiative, called the Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan, was launched in January 2011 and was projected to cost $1.5 billion over 10 years. However, the Department of Homeland Security has spent little of the $300 million set aside so far by Congress to buy new camera towers, surveillance trucks and ground sensors, among other equipment, according to current and former department officials. Homeland Security officials did not return requests for comment.

"They are experiencing delays," said Ron Colburn, former deputy chief of the U.S. Border Patrol. "It is taking longer than they had hoped."

The purchases have been stalled in the acquisitions office at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is widely seen as understaffed after a series of congressionally mandated cuts.

"We could do a lot more technologically on the border than we have done, and it's a tragedy that we haven't done it," said Stewart Baker, former head of policy for the Department of Homeland Security. "We have let the perfect be the enemy of the good," he said.

The key here, of course, is the bureaucratic gridlock that has a number of damaged, improperly-working sensors currently laying in the ground. As the story notes, much of the work has been left unfinished due to a lack of clarity in plans outlining the necessity of new and updated systems.

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