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Cargo security program wasted $2 billion, says Senator

(The following story by R.G. Edmonson appeared on The Journal of Commerce website on September 16, 2010.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. ó A failure to communicate between two Department of Homeland Security agencies on advanced supply chain security technology was a factor in the waste of $2 billion in taxpayers' money, members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said Wednesday.

In a hearing to air the failure of two high-profile Domestic Nuclear Detection Office projects to detect radiological material in cargo, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said that Congress had been misled by DNDO's inaccurate descriptions of progress in the deployment of the Advanced Spectroscopic Portal and Cargo Advanced Automated Radiography Systems.

"We are not happy or satisfied that a considerable amount of taxpayer money has been spent without results," Lieberman said. "Most importantly, the overall nuclear defense program DNDO has been working on since it was created - the Global Nuclear Detection Architecture - is still not completed."

Questions arose about the testing and evaluation of the Advanced Spectroscopic Portal in 2007. At that time, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff responded by calling for an independent review to determine the reliability of the system.

According to the Government Accountability Office, DNDO did not communicate with Customs and Border Protection before canceling the CAARS program. Customs said that the machines were too large to fit existing inspection lanes and would slow the movement of cargo out of ports. After five years at $400 million per year, DNDO dropped CAARS.

The GAO also said that DNDO compounded its problems by filing misleading progress reports with its budget requests for CAARS. The program was one of several DHS acquisition programs that lacked appropriate oversight, GAO said.

Friday, September 17, 2010

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