The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs today passed the S.146 Border Security technology Accountability Act of 2017 with a bipartisan voice vote. The bill was introduced by Senator McCain in January 2017. The intent of the bill is to ensure accountability of taxpayer dollars when implementing new technologies along our borders. Any and all forms of technology dispatched for border security is now required to provide to the Under Secretary for Management and CBP a baseline cost, schedule and performance thresholds. This is to ensure that there will be no overspending, schedule delays or under-performing. Plans for testing and evaluating new technologies must be submitted to Congress for their approval.

Companion legislation

Congresswoman Martha McSally, Chairwoman of the House Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee, introduced companion Legislation in the House of Representatives, which passed the House January of this year. It also requires the acquisition program baseline approval and requires monitoring acquisition programs. It includes that new border security technologies are evaluated through a series of assessments, processes, and audits to ensure compliance with relevant departmental acquisition policies and according to Federal Acquisition Regulation. Both pieces of legislation followed the government reports showing Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acquisitions are a “high-risk” for waste, fraud, and abuse and lack important cost control measurements.

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Strengthening security

Congressman Michael McCaul introduced House Bill 3548 Border Security for America Act of 2017 in July of this year, which has been slowly making its way through the House. The last action on the bill was August 29, 2017, at which time it was referred to the Subcommittee Border and Maritime Security. House Bill 3548 addresses strengthening the requirements of barriers and physical infrastructures along the southern border. It also addresses Air and Marine flight hours, National Guard support to secure our southern borders and security technology management.

Yesterday the House Bill gain support from the Security Industry Association, as CEO Don Erickson expressed that he would like to see the bill passed as soon as possible, he noted that physical barriers were not enough of a deterrent and that security technology was essential. Mr. Erickson also stated he would like to see the authorization for the fiscal year 2018, an additional $33 million for the Border Security Deployment Program.