A report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) found that the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency has improved its technology on the U.S. southwest border, but still have challenges to tackle.

In accordance with executive order 13767, CBP implemented new technologies to boost surveillance capabilities at the southwest border, but the upgrades are incomplete with CBP only deploying around 28 percent of the surveillance and subterranean technology solutions planned.

“Shifting priorities, construction delays, a lack of available technology solutions, and funding constraints hindered CBP’s planned deployments,” the report found. “Consequently, most southwest Border Patrol sectors still rely predominantly on obsolete systems and infrastructure with limited capabilities.”

In addition, the IG report found that CBP lacked adequate personnel to fully leverage the surveillance technology or to maintain current IT systems and infrastructure on site. It also found security vulnerabilities on some CBP servers and workstations not in compliance due to disagreements on the implementation timeline.

CBP has been aware of its inability to assess technology effectiveness to respond to deficiencies since 2017, but the agency lacks accurate data and processes for overcoming the challenges.

The OIG made three recommendations for CBP, all of which were concurred with. Among those recommendations include:

  1. Updating the 2014 Southwest Border Technology Plan to identify and prioritize technology and funding required to enhance operational control at the southwest border;
  2. Developing and implementing a “process for measuring technology’s performance to assess its effectiveness in providing situational awareness to fulfill border security mission requirements;” and
  3. Having CBP’s Office of Information and Technology coordinate with the DHS Office of the CIO to “ensure patch and configuration management controls for all IT systems comply with documents DHS requirements.”
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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.