Oh Where Oh Where is SBInet?


The status of Boeing's Secure Border Initiative (SBI) Project 28 seems to be in limbo. System verification testing of the "virtual fence" was completed at the end of last month, and the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency was expected to quickly make a decision as to accept or reject the project.

In September, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff said successful acceptance testing of the trouble plagued project was critical because he didn't want to get stuck with a lemon.

The Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Bernie Thompson fired a warning shot across Chertoff's bow in a letter he released this week, holding him to his "no lemon" pledge:

"If, as it now appears, the technological problems encountered are such that Project 28 has become more of a technology "test bed" than a new operational tool for the Border Patrol, the Department needs to address this directly. Frankly, I am as disturbed about this apparent lack of candor and the attempt to "spin" Project 28's troubles as I am by the technical difficulties you have encountered with the initiative. Technological problems can be fixed. Credibility, once lost, is unlikely ever to be regained."

"To be clear, I strongly support the use of technology to secure our border. I do not, however, support accepting a deliverable that does not provide the Border Patrol with the promised improvements in operational capability. Again, I urge you to defer accepting Project 28 until you can provide this Committee and the American people with an assurance that it does so."

Of course, if SBInet has to be canceled, then CBP can always turn to the Arizona-based Techno Patriots who are putting up their own home-grown version of SBInet.


Risk Factor

IEEE Spectrum's risk analysis blog, featuring daily news, updates and analysis on computing and IT projects, software and systems failures, successes and innovations, security threats, and more.

Robert Charette
Spotsylvania, Va.
Willie D. Jones
New York City