DHS has spent $ 330,000 on a failed computer system since 2018

Homeland Security paid more than $ 330,000 for a software license over the past two years for a system that had not worked since 2018, the department’s inspector general said in a new report on Monday.

The bungle came to the customs and border protection field operations office, which oversees the ports of entry. The system in question was supposed to help officers search for the electronic devices of travelers suspected of illegal behavior.

The equipment “has not been in operation since July 2018 due to network compatibility issues,” the audit found. Yet CBP still paid for the equipment for 2019 and 2020.

“OFO renewed the software licenses for equipment that was not working,” concluded the Inspector General.

In March, the equipment was still not working, according to the audit.

Investigators were examining CBP’s overall management of searches for electronic devices encountered at the border – a complicated and controversial power.

Searches can be basic – where an agent scrolls through content on a device – or advanced, where agents copy call logs, emails, contacts, or other information.

In 2019, out of 414 million inbound travelers, CBP performed 35,926 basic searches and 4,684 advanced searches. Over 1,000 devices have been detained and 193 have been turned over to other agencies such as the FBI for their own investigations.

The audit looked at 100 searches performed in 2018 and 2019 and found 79 broken rules or procedures where the search was not properly documented or the search itself exceeded permitted limits.

It was during the audit that investigators discovered that the agency was paying for software for systems that had been offline for years.

It turns out that CBP’s scientific services directorate was aware of the network problem, but did not notify headquarters until 2020.

Even after hearing about the problem, CBP “proceeded to renew all licenses for non-functional equipment,” the inspector general said.

The total cost for 2019 and 2020 was $ 330,629.

The name of the system is censored in the report as being law enforcement sensitive.

CBP, in its official response, said it would try to better monitor its equipment.

The inspector general said it could help identify equipment that is not working, but it does not address money spent on it while it is out of order.

“The recommendation will remain open until CBP provides evidence of the suspension of license renewals for non-functional equipment, the resolution of current functionality issues at points of entry, and the implementation of a process for communicating equipment issues, “the inspector general said.

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Gordon K. Morehouse