It's official: DHS picks Boeing for SBInet

The Homeland Security Department officially awarded Boeing Co. its highly anticipated contract to provide the technological backbone of the agency's Secure Border Initiative.

Under the SBInet contract, Boeing will be responsible for providing, for the first time, DHS agencies and officers the best technological solutions to identify, classify, respond and resolve illegal entry across both the northern and southern U.S. borders.

In announcing the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract this morning in Washington, DHS officials said the key for this contract, unlike other failed or disregarded efforts to secure the border, is tying all the technologies together and relaying relevant information in real time.

'Don't think of this as gizmos and people,' said DHS deputy secretary Michael Jackson at a briefing this morning. 'Think of this as gizmos, people and infrastructure. ' There have never been before all of these tools collected together in one place. This is a radical change in business as usual.'

'The key to this is integration,' said DHS secretary Michael Chertoff.

Chertoff and Jackson declined to estimate how much the agency will spend on the contract, stating instead that the solutions will be phased in with DHS and Boeing negotiating the prices along the way.

The agency did place the first two task orders, though, totaling $67 million. The first task order was for a program management office that will oversee implementation of the contract, and the other was for a 'virtual fence' along the 28-mile portion of Arizona-Mexico border in Tucson.

The Tucson project will be completed this spring, the officials said.

At this point, DHS officials envision a variety of technologies will be used across the country, with no one set solution in mind. The southern border currently is the highest priority, the officials said, and they indicated that a series of sensors, radar, aerial supervision, and permanent and portable communication towers will be part of the package.

'SBInet has been designed to be flexible,' Chertoff said. 'This is not a cookie-cutter approach.'

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