The Trump administration has requested an additional $3 billion from Congress to supplement FY ’17 appropriations, with nearly half of the funds slated for border security, including $200 million for technology.
The budget amendment was delivered to Congress on March 14, the same day that President Donald Trump released a “blueprint” for his FY ’18 budget request.
The FY ’18 budget outline shows that the administration will seek $44.1 billion for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including $2.6 billion for the design and construction of a physical wall along the southern border as well as border security technology. That’s well above the $323.4 million that the Obama administration had requested for border security a year ago when it delivered its FY ‘17 budget proposal, although border security funding in that request was largely related to technology investments with some monies for maintenance of existing physical barriers and related infrastructure.
The budget blueprint doesn’t parse out how much of the $2.6 billion would be for security technologies and the budget amendment also doesn’t specify how the $200 million for border technolgies is proposed to be spent. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the DHS component charged with securing the land borders of the U.S., has multiple border technology efforts underway, including the Integrated Fixed Tower system that provides cameras, radar and related communications equipment in select areas of the southwest border.
Congress will have a chance to mark up the amendment and eventually the FY ’18 request, when if formally arrives.
The federal government is currently operating under a continuing resolution for FY ’17, which essentially funds the government at FY ’16 levels.
Both the FY ’18 budget outline and the FY ’17 amendment prioritize border security and immigration enforcement, two areas that Trump promised during his presidential campaign would be high priorities in his administration. The budget amendment also seeks $999 million for the planning, design and construction of the first installment of the border wall, and $179 million for access roads, gates, and other tactical infrastructure.
On March 17 CBP issued two Requests for Proposal for border wall prototypes with the intention to award multiple contracts and initial task orders for the design and construction of multiple wall prototypes.
The prototypes will inform future design standards that will likely continue to evolve to meet the Border Patrol’s requirements.
CBP says in both RFPs that the maximum value for all individual orders awarded under the forthcoming indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract shall not exceed $300 million for the five-year period. It also says that the maximum for any single order is not expected to exceed $275 million.
The RFPs are entitled “Solid Concrete Border Wall Prototype,” and “Other Border Wall Prototype.”
The design and construction projects under both RFPs may include the construction of solid concrete wall prototypes for various miles of border from San Diego, Calif., on the Pacific Coast, to Brownsville, Texas, on the Gulf Coast.
The RFPs says that after award of the ID/IQ and prototype task order, the successful ID/IQ contractors will all compete for future task orders based on the evaluation factors set forth in the task order RFPs. Only awardees under the RFP for the ID/IQ contract will be eligible to compete for future task orders.
The FY ’18 request also includes $1.5 billion for safeguarding cyberspace to help DHS protect federal networks and critical infrastructure. This amount appears to be a significant increase by at least one-third over FY ’17 levels. The blueprint also says that “Through a suite of advanced cyber security tools and more assertive defense of government networks, DHS would share more cybersecurity incident information with other Federal agencies and the private sector, leading to faster responses to cybersecurity attacks directed at Federal networks and critical infrastructure.”
Earlier in March month it was reported that the Coast Guard would be one of the bill payers within DHS for the ramped up border security and immigration enforcement funding. But DHS said in a statement that the FY ’18 request “sustains current funding levels for the U.S. Coast Guard, which allows for the continuation of day-to-day operations and investments in the Acquisition, Construction and Improvements account.”
While the blueprint provides scant program details and doesn’t provide even breakout overall agency topline requests, it say eliminates $667 million in local grant funding for programs administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) “that are either unauthorized by the Congress … or that must provide more measurable results and ensure the Federal Government is not supplanting other stakeholders’ responsibilities, such as the Homeland Security Grant Program.
The blueprint also cuts $80 million from the Transportation Security Administration for aviation security checkpoint screening programs that are “unauthorized and underperforming.” Included in the reductions are the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response program, TSA grants to state and local jurisdictions, and the agency’s decision last summer to eliminate the Behavior Detection Officer program.
The request proposes an increase in the airline passenger security fee to recover 75 percent of the cost of TSA’s aviation security operations. Congress has frequently resisted proposed increases in this security fee by both the Bush and Obama administrations.