Magazine article National Defense

DHS Struggles to Find Effective Measures for Border Security

Magazine article National Defense

DHS Struggles to Find Effective Measures for Border Security

Article excerpt

* Attempts to create a better system to gauge the effectiveness of border security have not yet come to fruition, said a top Customs and Border Protection official.

Since 2010, the Department of Homeland Security has been working on its Border Condition Index (BCD. The index--which is meant to evaluate the state of border security--will examine data and trends, both quantitatively and qualitatively. The initiative is meant to look past how much money has been spent, or how many personnel DHS has hired as the sole indicators of a safer border.

"It's not appropriate to measure inputs standing alone as measures of border security," said Mark Borkowski, assistant commissioner at CBP's office of technology innovation and acquisition during a House subcommittee on border and maritime security hearing. "It's not correct to say we just spent a lot of money and therefore we're better. We need to link that to outcomes."

Still, Borkowski said that the BCI was never meant to be a complete gauge of border security, but rather a tool to use alongside other data.

"It is an indicator; it's not a perfect number," he said.

Chairman of the subcommittee, Rep. Candice Miller; R-Mich., said that if the BCI cannot be ready within the next two years, Congress will need to reevaluate whether it will be a useful tool. A way to formally evaluate border security is needed before comprehensive immigration reform can take place, she said.

"Without a way to quantify effectiveness there can really be no basis of determining how secure our borders are, let alone justification for immigration policy decisions," said Miller. …

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