Deployments of various sensor and communications systems that make up the Arizona Technology Plan for border security in that state will be complete by the end FY ’19, the head of acquisition for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) told a House panel on Tuesday.
Most of the technology will be in place in the relevant areas of responsibility (AoR) by the end of FY ’17 except for two AoRs on an Indian nation where Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) systems aren’t expected to be up and running until the end of FY ’19, Mark Borkowski, assistant commissioner of CBP’s Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition (OTIA), told the House Homeland Security Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee.
By the end of this year, the last AOR of five for camera-mounted tower systems called the Remote Video Surveillance System (RVSS) will be up in Yuma, Borkowski said. The IFT system is already operating in the Nogales sector in Arizona and is being installed and expected to be operating in the Douglas AoR this year. Plans are underway to begin installing the IFT system in Sonoita this summer with a completion date next summer, he said.
The camera and radar equipped IFT systems are being supplied by a Texas-based unit of Israel’s Elbit Systems [ESLT]. General Dynamics [GD] supplies the RVSS.
Borkowski also said that the Mobile Surveillance Capability (MSC), which consists of long-range radars and cameras on Border Patrol vehicles, is completely deployed in Arizona with plans now for deployments outside of the state. He said this contract was also awarded below cost estimates and “performed on cost.”
Telephonics, a division of Griffon Corp. [GFF], supplies the MSC.
Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), chairman of the subcommittee, at the outset of the hearing criticized the performance of Borkowski’s office, saying that while the IFT program is “working well and on budget,” as a whole “I do not believe that CBP’s Office of Technology and Acquisition has delivered.”
Borkowski acknowledged that a number of programs have struggled, particularly with regard to schedule, which he attributed to cultural and structural issues. He later said that the culture for technology procurement is “risk averse” and that the “community” needs to grapple with what is the right level of risk tolerance.
“The procurement system is very frustrating to all of us,” Borkowski said.
However, he said, once contracts have been awarded, performance “has been relatively good.” He noted that IFT was awarded at a 75 percent cost savings versus the original estimate and is performing consistent with that level and “has performed pretty well against its schedule.”
The RVSS contract was awarded at a lower than estimated cost and “is clicking along” with its schedule and performing well on cost.
While failing on schedule before contracts have been awarded, once contracts have been awarded, Borkowski said CBP is doing well regarding cost, schedule and performance.