October 04, 2017

Senate Committee Passes McCain-McCaskill-Hassan Bill to Improve Border Security Operations

Washington, D.C. ­– The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs today passed the Border Security Technology Accountability Act, legislation cosponsored by Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) that would improve the management and accountability of Department of Homeland Security border technology acquisition programs, which numerous reports have concluded are at “high-risk” for waste, fraud and abuse. Congresswoman Martha McSally (R-AZ) also introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“New technologies such as video and radar surveillance are critical to securing our borders,” said Senator McCain. “However, widespread mismanagement and a lack of accountability within our federal bureaucracy have prevented us from using these technologies to stop illegal immigration, put an end to human trafficking, and reduce crime in communities in Arizona and across the Southwest. We owe it to the people of our state to responsibly manage their tax dollars by efficiently implementing border security technologies, and this bill is an important step in that direction.”

“When I toured the U.S.–Mexico border earlier this year, I heard again and again from border patrol agents that what they need most is more technological resources,” said Senator McCaskill. “This bill will help ensure that law enforcement officials have technology that works and that they need to make our borders more secure.”

“It is critical that we work across party lines to secure our borders, put an end to human trafficking, and stop the flow of illegal drugs into our country,” said Senator Hassan. “New technologies hold great promise in helping to secure our borders and achieve these goals, but we must always ensure taxpayer dollars are being used responsibly. Senator McCain has been a leader in working to bring greater accountability and fiscal responsibility to the military’s procurement practices, and I am proud to work with him and Senator McCaskill on this bipartisan effort to take those same common-sense steps when it comes to border security.”

Specifically, the bill would require each border technology acquisition program to have baseline cost, schedule and performance targets approved by an appropriate decision-maker. It would also require the Under Secretary for Management, in coordination with the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), to monitor the management of border security technology acquisition programs to ensure they are not exceeding cost estimates, experiencing schedule delays, or underperforming. Finally, the bill would require the Under Secretary for Management, in coordination with the CBP Commissioner, to submit to Congress a plan for testing and evaluating new border security technologies to ensure taxpayer dollars are being used efficiently and effectively.

The legislation is here.