House committee drafts border security bill

The House Homeland Security Committee today passed a broad-ranging border security bill (H.R. 4312) that would strengthen surveillance IT at the U.S. borders and increase usage of Defense Department technology in border surveillance, among other goals.

The legislation is sponsored by Committee Chairman Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). It would enhance personnel at the borders and beef up communications and use of canine teams, among other features.

The legislation requires that Secretary Michael Chertoff submit a comprehensive plan for surveillance of land and maritime borders within six months.

The plan should assess existing surveillance technologies, describe new surveillance technologies to be used and their compatibility with the legacy systems and describe the role of the Science & Technology directorate. It also should describe obstacles to deployment and provide a detailed estimate of all costs of implementation and maintenance.

The bill also asks Chertoff and the Defense Department to work together to develop a joint strategic plan to increase the usage of Pentagon equipment?including unmanned aerial vehicles, tethered aerostat radars and other surveillance equipment?in assisting with the border surveillance.

Also under the bill, by Oct. 1, 2006, DHS and the Attorney General must enhance connectivity between the department's Automated Biometric Fingerprint Identification System database and the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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