recommended reading

Virtual border fence contract postponed due to fierce competition

Guillermo Arias/AP

A digital border security project slated to replace an aborted $1.5 billion system has been delayed by unexpected competition from vendors that want the work.

Customs and Border Protection had planned on a Jan. 1, 2013, deadline for selecting a contractor to revamp the now-abandoned Secure Border Initiative network. But a flood of submissions has left CBP pressed for time. The agency now expects to sign an eight and a half year deal by Oct. 1, 2013, which would mean a 2022 completion date.

When asked about the status of the contract this week, CBP officials said the job has not been assigned yet and referred to an October industry notice describing a new procurement timeline.

The agency is choosing from an unspecified “larger number of proposals than originally estimated,” and “the quantity of proposals will extend the schedule to complete the evaluation process,” the update stated.

The review is not just a matter of analyzing paperwork or inspecting equipment. Applicants judged to be “within the competitive range” must operate, in front of government eyes, production-line-ready technology that remains functioning under harsh desert conditions, according to contracting documents. Those presentations are scheduled to occur between January and April 1, 2013, the October notice stated.

The Homeland Security Department in 2011 canceled Boeing Co.’s SBInet contract after planners determined the demands of the system were unattainable and excessive. CBP began accepting applications for the new initiative in April.

The technology companies are vying to dot border areas with sets of camera-flanked surveillance towers suited to each region’s terrain. SBInet would have blanketed the Southwest with costlier, one-size-fits-all towers all networked together, and sporting radar and other sophisticated technology.

This second try will start in Nogales, Ariz., and then expand within the state to at most five tower clusters in Sonoita, Douglas, Casa Grande, Ajo and Wellton.

The system requirements no longer call for radar, which is futile in heavily trafficked towns, or the need to detect 70 percent of incursions within a given coverage area.

"We're starting with what is readily available," Mark Borkowski, assistant commissioner for CBP's Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition, said in April.  "Industry has got to prove it to us it's readily available."

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    View
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.