Homeland watch: In brief

All SBINet, all the time

Along the Secure Border Initiative's speed to deployment, people are talking about a Q&A published by the Homeland Security Department in May that suggests contractors are worried about the expense of moving large numbers of employees to remote border regions to set up the system.

DHS said it won't reimburse for commuting costs, even if the commute is hundreds of miles once a week.

Douglas C. Smith, executive vice president of government solutions for Ericsson Inc., said the company has experience deploying personnel to remote locations to service 5,000 signal towers within a three-month period, so he does not anticipate any workforce concerns.

As for the Integrated Wireless Network, several members of the five competing teams said uncertainties about IWN are affecting their planning. "I'm assuming IWN won't be available for SBINet," said a leader for one of the five teams.

Jay Dragone, vice president, homeland security, for Lockheed Martin Corp., went to Vermont last week to visit border ports in person.

"It is amazing that there is so much open space. You can drive down a road, and one side is Canada, and the other is the United States," he said.

Tsunami software, ASAP

The United States needs better tsunami loss-estimation software, similar to what exists for floods and other hazards, according to the Government Accountability Office.

"While the Federal Emergency Management Agency has standardized computer software for comprehensively estimating the likely human, structural and economic damages from natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes and earthquakes, no such tool exists for tsunamis," GAO said.

DHS - FEMA = $1.1 billion

Legislation (H.R. 5316) that would remove FEMA from DHS and establish it as an independent agency would cost $1.1 billion from 2007 to 2011, according to an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.

The funding would pay for new activities authorized under the bill. An alternative bill (H.R. 5351) would cost $1.3 billion from 2007 to 2011 to keep FEMA within DHS, CBO said.

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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