As I See It

Glenn Spencer, August 24, 2007

In July, 2006, I referred to the Strategic Border Initiative (SBInet) as the Strategic Bullsh*t Initiative.

I said

"Nowhere does SBI spell out a goal that can be measured. This is all of the same nonsense we have seen for years. The program will be run by open borders people at DHS/CBP and will accomplish absolutely nothing except lull the people into a false sense of security."

I knew the SBInet would fail because I knew Boeing would not be given the information it needed to design the system.

To properly design any control system, you must first define the problem. Boeing needed all the data it could get from the Border Patrol to understand why they fail to stop people. They needed data on border crossings and enforcement, including where, when and how many people are apprehended, and how many get away. The needed to know how people get passed existing camera systems and why they don't work as well as they should. They also needed to know the goal of the system, i.e., what is an acceptable level of illegal entries?

Moreover, the system should not be means-oriented. That is, the contractor should not be told how to achieve system objectives. At a conference on the Secure Border Initiative (SBInet) held in Sierra Vista in February, I asked why the project didn't include consideration of the Secure Fence Act of 2006. A Boeing representative said his company was"activators" and did what the government wanted. Apparently the government doesn't want the double fence "activated."

Boeing did not get the information it need because the government doesn't want anyone to know these things. There is an old saying, "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it." The reverse also holds true, i.e., if you don't want to improve it, don't measure it." The latter is the philosophy of the DHS.

The system is designed to fail because the government refuses to provide design parameters and it restricts the means by which the contractor can achieve system objectives. If the government had provided proper guidance and a cost-benefit analysis was performed, the contractor would most likely recommend the construction of a San Diego-type fence for most of the border -- a totally unacceptable outcome as far as DHS is concerned.

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PS - CNN reports that 17.9 miles of fence out of 854 have been built. If they mean 17.9 miles of fence as specified in the Secure Fence Act of 2006 have been built since the act was passed, there may be a disagreement. Between El Paso, Texas, and San Diego, California, American Border Patrol counted only two miles of additional 2-layered fence has been put in place since October, 2006.