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Flippping the switch: software issues blamed for border project delay.


Boeing is having problems integrating components on its high-profile Project 28 border security program, according to a Customs and Border Protection spokesman.

Boeing Integrated Defense Systems was supposed to turn the 28-mile long network of tower-mounted sensors over to the Border Patrol for training in mid-June, but problems meshing the software into a common operating picture Border Patrol agents can view on screens in their vehicles or at headquarters are holding up the project.

Having missed one deadline, CBP is declining to set another, said Brad Benson, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman.

"We're just waiting to hear when they've tested it and they're ready to go," Benson said.

Project 28 is one of the first phases of the larger Secure Border Initiative, which is DHS' comprehensive plan to end illegal land crossings. Boeing was awarded an $8 billion contract to field the technology component of the initiative, known as SBInet, in September 2006. The contract set an aggressive schedule for Project 28, aiming to turn over a fully functioning pilot system by June 8.


Deadlines are now considered of secondary importance, Benson said.

"The most important thing right now is that when we finally do accept something, that the system is a working system and fills all the contract requirements."

Boeing press officers regularly defer all questions on SBInet to the Department of Homeland Security.

Congress is watching the program closely. Illegal immigration has become a hot-button political issue and previous attempts to use technology to stem it have been perceived as a waste of taxpayer's money.

On June 7, DHS and Boeing officials testified before the House Homeland Security Committee that Project 28 was on schedule. The next day, DHS announced that it was, in fact, late. The discrepancy angered some members. Since then, days have turned into weeks, and weeks into months. In August, Boeing announced Daniel Korte would replace Jerry McElwee as SBInet program manager.

"There's improvement in capability, but it's still not exactly what we're looking for," Benson said.

Project 28 will rely on radar, high-resolution cameras and other sensors to spot incursions near the Sasabe border crossing located south of Tucson, Ariz. The towers, as pictured above, should be able to seamlessly transmit images to command headquarters and Border Patrol agents sitting in nearby vehicles.

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Title Annotation:SECURITY BEAT: Homeland Defense Briefs
Comment:Flippping the switch: software issues blamed for border project delay.(SECURITY BEAT: Homeland Defense Briefs)
Author:Magnuson, Stew
Publication:National Defense
Date:Oct 1, 2007
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