Magazine article National Defense

Homeland Security Tussles with GAO over Radiation Portals

Magazine article National Defense

Homeland Security Tussles with GAO over Radiation Portals

Article excerpt

NUCLEAR MELTDOWN

A Department of Homeland Security official said he was confident that the next generation of portals designed to find nuclear materials in shipping containers will work despite a withering Government Accountability Office report questioning performance data and their high price tags.

"The department really doesn't like to struggle with GAO in public," Howard Reichel, assistant director for systems development and acquisition at DHS' Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, said at an Institute for Defense and Government Advancement border management conference.

However, he went on to do just that.

"We tested them every which way under the sun. We tested them with easy things. We tested them with hopelessly hard things that no device could ever find. We tested devices that worked very well. We tested devices that were broken half the time during the test."

The tests were conducted on seven systems that ultimately weren't chosen, he said.

DHS awarded contracts to three vendors, Raytheon Co., Thermo Electron Corp. and Canberra Industries Inc.

When looking at the performance of the three selected systems on amounts of nuclear material that would actually pose a threat to security, they were 95 percent effective, he said. …

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