DHS plans data systems to supplement surveillance

In addition to surveillance, the Homeland Security Department intends to deploy other major IT systems as part of its Secure Border Initiative strategy to better control access to the U.S. borders.

Comprehensive data systems to identify all aliens in the United States and a national data framework to identify links and trends in border activity are among the programs to be implemented, according to the"Secure Border Initiative Strategy," published by the agency this week. The four-page document was in a program guide released in Washington Technology's Sept. 18 issue.

In addition, DHS will create systems to create a common operating picture, an IT program that integrates and displays real-time data in a useful format, at the borders for federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Also, DHS will build an easy-to-use employer compliance program to ensure that employers are not hiring illegal aliens, the strategy said.

The border IT programs will be part of the Secure Border Initiative, which also includes a comprehensive border surveillance system known as the Secure Border Initiative Network (SBI-Net). DHS plans to award the estimated $2 billion SBI-Net surveillance contract to Boeing Co., congressional and industry sources said today. A formal announcement from DHS is expected tomorrow, the officials said.

The DHS strategy document outlines a mission and 23 goals for the Secure Border program.

However, the document is not the same as the SBI strategic plan that the department will provide to Congress in November, Gregory Giddens, program manager for the secure border initiative, wrote in an e-mail. Some of the published strategy will be incorporated within the upcoming strategic plan, according to administration sources. Further details on the strategic plan were not immediately available.

Earlier this year, congressional appropriators requested a written strategy for the Secure Border Initiative as a condition for approving significant funding for the project.

Chertoff announced the initiative in November 2005 with the goal of obtaining operational control of the U.S. borders. It includes provisions for guards, funding for beds to hold people caught crossing the border, fencing and roads and a comprehensive border surveillance system incorporating sensors and cameras.

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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