Members of Congress yesterday denounced a $239 million camera system installed on the Mexican and Canadian borders as a scandal and an embarrassment, reports the Washington Post. They cited defective equipment, rampant overcharging by contractors and a failure by the U.S. Border Patrol and other government officials to properly oversee it. “What we have here, plain and simple, is a case of gross mismanagement of a multimillion-dollar contract,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the House Homeland Security subcommittee on management, said at a hearing. “Worst of all, it’s seriously weakened our border security.”
“Chronic inattention” by officials of the Border Patrol and the General Services Administration helped cause the problems of the Border Patrol’s Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System of cameras and sensors, installed over seven years before work was halted last year, according to testimony by a GSA official. Many of the cameras, which were placed on poles by the contractor, International Microwave Corp., break down frequently. The wiring of cameras on Canada’s border with Washington was so poor that many cameras there often swivel uncontrollably in hot weather. Some pieces of uninstalled equipment were found in the Arizona desert.