DHS receives IT money in stimulus package

Published 18 February 2009

DHS receives a $2.8 billion boost from the new stimulus package; largest single item is for TSA’s installation of checked baggage explosive detection systems

Follow the money. DHS will receive a $2.8 billion boost from the new stimulus law, and about half of the money is likely to pay for information technology-related programs. FCW’s Alice Lipowicz writes that the largest single IT item is $1 billion for the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) installation of checked baggage explosive detection systems. These are generally systems that use X-rays and digital three-dimensional scanning.

Another $100 million will go toward one of the department’s most high-profile technology programs — the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) virtual fence surveillance system being built on the border between the United States and Mexico. Construction of towers for the first permanent segment of the $8 billion southwest border system, known as the Secure Border Initiative Network, or SBInet, is expected to begin in late March or early April. SBInet system comprises cameras, radars, sensors, and communications equipment strung on towers that feed data into border patrol operations centers.

CBP also will receive $420 million to help pay for construction and renovation of land border ports of entry. Many of those border entry and exit points are being expanded and reconfigured in part to make room for sophisticated scanners and identification checking equipment.

The bill directs $300 million into state and local grant programs for port security, rail security, and mass transit security. A large chunk of that grant money is likely to pay for IT-related systems, such as access control, camera monitoring, perimeter alarm systems, underwater surveillance and tunnel surveillance systems.

There also is $200 million for construction and renovation of the department’s headquarters at its new location at the former St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in the District of Columbia. A portion of that is expected to pay for computer systems, telecommunications, Internet connectivity, access control and other IT systems.

Other IT items in the DHS budget include $210 million for firefighter assistance grants to upgrade fire stations, a portion of which may help pay for network connectivity and emergency communications; $98 million to the Coast Guard for shore facilities and aids to navigation; $60 million for tactical communications for customs and border protection, and $20 million for tactical communications for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.