Hot on HuffPost Tech:

See More Stories
AOL Tech

U.S. May Shutter Virtual Border Fence

Virtual Border Fence May Be Canceled
Plans to construct a "virtual fence" of cameras and sensors along the U.S. border with Mexico may be reaching the end of their days. Yesterday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that work on the two pilot sections would be frozen, and that $50 million in funding would be diverted from the program to other projects. The official word is that the program has been temporarily frozen pending "broader reassessment," but this is read by many as a signal of the end for SBInet.

The five-year plan initiated by President Bush in 2006 has suffered very public failures, cost overruns and delays. In a statement accompanying the announcement, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Bennie G. Thompson called SBInet "a grave and expensive disappointment," echoing the sentiments of many Democrats, including professional contrarian Senator Joe Lieberman. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has already spent $3.4 billion to "secure" 640 miles of the border, but the project has floundered in the hands of Boeing after several false starts.

In an attempt to move the project along swiftly and to save costs, Boeing used primarily off-the-shelf parts, including commercially available sensors and police dispatch software. Unfortunately, not enough testing was performed before the equipment was pressed into service, and the network of observation posts have been plagued with technical difficulties. The dispatch software, for instance, has buckled under the torrents of data transmitted from the remote desert crossings.

This will, of course, turn into a bitter partisan battle, both on the Hill and in the comments section of this site. Lost amongst the bickering and the finger-pointing, though, will be the fact that the program simply hasn't been working. The real failure here isn't Democrats, or Republicans, or even the government, in general. It's Boeing, which failed stay on schedule and within budget. [From: Washington Post]

Tags: Boeing, BorderPatrol, borders, dhs, government, homelandsecurity, immigration, politics, sbinet, security, top