The White House on Tuesday morning released a fact sheet outlining President Biden’s State of the Union address that evening to include his administration’s efforts to combat fentanyl trafficking, but the document shows that the rollout of vehicle and cargo inspection systems at land ports of entry along the southwest border is going slower than expected.

The fact sheet says that by fiscal year 2026, CBP will have 123 non-intrusive inspection (NII) systems at the land ports of entry, enabling the scanning of 40 percent of passenger vehicles and 70 percent of cargo vehicles entering the U.S. Currently, about 2 percent of passenger vehicles and 17 percent of cargo vehicles are inspected with large-scale NII systems as they enter the country, it says.

The NII inspection goals for FY ’26 represent a three-year delay from what a CBP official told Congress last May.

“Beginning in FY 2023, CBP expects to increase NII scans of these vehicles as much as 40 percent and greater than 70 percent, respectively,” Pete Flores, executive assistant commissioner for CBP’s Office of Field Operations, said in written testimony to the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Security.

The NII systems are seen as a key capability for detecting and interdicting illegal drugs such as fentanyl, as well as other contraband and potential threats, that are being hidden inside cars, trucks and cargo entering the U.S. legally through ports of entry. The majority of fentanyl is believed to be entering the U.S. through these means.

Congressional Republicans have been bashing Biden for the fentanyl crisis, saying he isn’t moving aggressively to combat the issue. However, these legislators don’t typically focus on the NII deployments as the primary means to squeeze the drug smugglers at the ports of entry.

In January, CBP told Defense Daily it has acquired 123 drive-through NII systems under new contracts and that the installation of these systems would increase scanning of passenger occupied vehicles and commercial occupied vehicles to 40 and 70 percent, respectively, versus current levels.

In FY ’23, the agency’s goal is to deploy more than 50 percent of the NII systems, or about 65 units, across 30 locations along the southwest border, it said. Based on the goals put forth in the White House fact sheet, it will take three more years to complete the deployment of the acquired systems.

The deployment “has been has been a bit turbulent and volatile in terms of our scheduling,” Mark Borkowski, CBP’s chief acquisition officer, said on Tuesday in response to a question about the NII deployments during a homeland security panel discussion hosted by ExecutiveBiz.

CBP in early January, in response to Defense Daily’s queries, said that it had deployed eight drive through NII systems in pre-primary inspection at southwest land ports of entry, including six low-energy portals (LEPs) and two multi-energy portals (MEPs). The LEPs are used to safely screen passenger occupied vehicles at lower energy levels and the MEPs allow for cargo vehicles to be screened at different energy levels, low energy to scan the occupied cab and high-energy for the cargo conveyance.

The use of the new portals allows for scanning at the speed-of-commerce, rather than only pulling suspect vehicles and cargo aside for scanning in a secondary inspection area. The development of the LEPs and MEPs is expected to eventually allow CBP to near its congressionally-mandated goal of 100 percent scanning of vehicles and cargo entering the U.S.

Where the small number of NII systems are installed in pre-primary inspection lanes, CBP said it is scanning more than 75 percent of conveyances. In pre-primary lanes without these systems, the agency is scanning 1 to 2 percent of passenger vehicles and 14 to 15 percent of commercial vehicles.

The new NII systems are being purchased through two contracts awarded to multiple vendors in 2021. Leidos [LDOS], OSI Systems’ [OSIS] Rapiscan Systems division, and Britain’s Smiths Detection were selected to provide the MEPs, and Astrophysics, Leidos and Rapiscan the LEPs.

In addition to highlighting the new NII deployments, Biden is expected to tout advanced targeting efforts by CBP based on data provided by commercial delivery companies to identify and intercept suspicious packages and disrupt the global fentanyl production and supply chain among several actions.

During a White House media teleconference on Tuesday morning, Rahul Gupta, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, touted progress made by the administration dealing with the fentanyl challenge. He said in the last year nearly 15,000 pounds of fentanyl was seized at the border and 26,000 pounds within the U.S.

The seizures combined with public health efforts have resulted in “five straight months where overdose numbers have decreased,” he said.