Government's Virtual Border Fence Project Under Audit

June 01, 2011

The Dept. of Homeland Security paid nearly $1 billion dollars for a virtual fence on the Arizona border. The project subsequently failed. Now a federal investigation found the agency had little idea just how some of that money was spent.

The project was called the Strategic Border Initiative or SBINet. The Boeing Corporation was hired to build a virtual wall along the border with Mexico.

An audit found many invoices for the project lacked details showing what the agency was paying for.

In one case, Boeing submitted an invoice for $1.2 million that simply said: "Travel."

"It didn't give any information related to who traveled or where the travel was or who was traveling, those kinds of things," said Susan Ragland, one of the investigators on the case. She works for the Government Accountability Office.

In another invoice, Boeing filed a $12 million invoice simply titled: "Overhead" again, with no details of the expense.

Ragland said Homeland Security will only submit new invoice requests for those items still unpaid.

After five years, Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano ordered an end to the project in January. It was only used on 53 miles of the border.