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GovCon Wire’s Weekly Roundup: CBP, Border Walls, Drones and More

Weekly Roundup

April 10 – April 13 2017

A Note From Our President & Founder Jim Garrettson

Since the election of President Trump, the Department of Homeland Security has been a topic of much discussion, particularly the Customs and Border Protection agency. Trump’s campaign promises of building a border wall, 24-hour drone surveillance along the borders and increasing the size of the Border Patrol are beginning to come to fruition.

At the end of January, President Trump signed an executive order authorizing the “immediateconstruction of a physical wall on the southern border,” to be patrolled and supported by “adequate personnel” to curb illegal immigration, drug trafficking and human trafficking. The Trump administration has already decided where the first stretches of the border wall will be built: a 14-mile border wall in San Diego, 28 miles of levee barriers, 14 miles of replacement fencing in San Diego and a 6-mile border wall along the Rio Grande valley.

Bidding for the wall closed at the beginning of the month, with over 200 companies expressing interest in the project. Customs and Border Protection has chosen a plot of federally owned land in San Diego to be the staging ground for several wall prototypes. CBP outlined that each prototype wall must be 30 feet long and range in height from 18 to 30 feet. Finalists will be announced in June with the expectation that prototype construction will be completed 30 days later.

In order to man and maintain the border wall, CBP seeks to reach the congressional mandate of 21,370 agents by hiring 6,700 agents and 5,000 new officers. Border Patrol Chief Ronald Vitiello noted that the U.S. Border Patrol hasn’t reached the minimum number of agents required by Congress for the past few years, something that he hopes to rectify quickly.

While executive orders, bidding closing and plans to hire over 11 thousand new agents and officers are most certainly big news, the most profound development in the Trump administration’s plans for protecting U.S. borders was DHS’s request for small drones that are capable of running facial recognition tools. DHS released a solicitation at the end of March detailing requirements for the drones. The drones must have sensor capabilities that can surveil a range of 3 miles, the ability to track multiple targets persistently and, perhaps most importantly, be able to “[identify] humans via facial recognition or other biometric at range.”

The facial recognition capabilities of the drones must also allow for the cross-referencing of “any persons identified with relevant law enforcement databases.” In 2016, Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology released a report that stated “One in two American adults is in a law enforcement face recognition network.” Furthermore, a 2017 GAO report concluded that the FBI has a database of over 411 million facial images, with some images obtained from driver’s license photos from 16 states.

However, as the CATO Institute has pointed out in an article published on Monday, the actions of the CBP are not limited strictly to America’s land borders. Currently, the CBP is legally able to stop and search vehicles within a 100-mile range of America’s external boundary. The ACLU has named this 100-mile range a “Constitution-free” zone. The CATO Institute went on to note that approximately two-thirds of the nation’s population live in this so-called “Constitution-free” zone.

Despite the moniker, the “Constitution-free” zone is not literally unbeholden to the Constitution. U.S. citizens living in these areas are still protected by the Constitution. The ACLU outlined its thought-process in naming the 100-mile border zone a “Constitution-free” zone explaining that although the Fourth Amendment protects U.S. citizens from random stops and searches, it does not fully apply to the nation’s borders. At ports of entry into the U.S., federal authorities “do not need a warrant or even suspicion of wrongdoing to justify conducting what courts have called a ‘routine search,’ such as searching luggage or a vehicle.”

If you’re interested in learning more about current and future CBP initiatives and policies, you can attend the Potomac Officer Club’s Border Protection Innovations and Technology Forum. The Forum will be held on April 26th, from 7:00 – 9:45am at 2941 Restaurant, 2941 Fairview Park Dr. Falls Church, VA 22042. Speakers include:

Ron Vitiello – Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (KEYNOTE SPEAKER)

Mark Borkowski – Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Acquisition and CBP’s Chief Acquisition Officer and Component Acquisition Executive of U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Shonnie Lyon – Director, Office of Biometric Identity Management of U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Arun Vemury – Program Manager, People Screening, Science and Technology Directorate of U.S. Department of Homeland Security

THIS WEEK’S TOP GOVCON STORIES

White House Lifts Federal Hiring Freeze Following Release of OMB Govt Restructuring Guidance
The White House has lifted the federal hiring freeze after the Office of Management and Budget issued new guidance that recommends measures for agencies on how to reduce the federal workforce’s size, restructure missions and evaluate employee performance.
AECOM Subsidiary Wins $3.6B Contract for Air Force Range Support Services
AECOM‘s URS Federal Services subsidiary has won a potential 17-year, $3.6 billion contract to provide range support services to the U.S. Air Force.
Army Picks 8 Firms for $496M Program Mgmt, Systems Support Contract
Eight companies have won positions on a potential five-year, $495.7 million contract to provide support services for a range of U.S. Army programs and systems.
Leidos, Textron, AASKI Technologies Win Spots on $900M Army Tactical UAS Product Office Support IDIQ
Leidos, Textron‘s AAI subsidiary and AASKI Technologies have won positions on a potential five-year, $900 million contract for field support and technical services to the U.S. Army‘s product office for tactical unmanned aircraft systems.
Richard White, Robert Zitz, Tim Gillespie Take New Leadership Roles at SSL’s Govt Systems Business
Palo Alto, California-based satellite manufacturer Space Systems Loral has appointed three executives to oversee the company’s government systems business unit that provides support to U.S. government clients and related programs.
Belcan Agrees to Buy Schafer, Taps Lee Shabe to Lead Newly Formed Govt Services Segment
Belcan, a portfolio company of private investment firm AE Industrial Partners, has agreed to buy Schafer Corp. from Metalmark Capital Partners for an undisclosed amount in a move to expand its technical and engineering service offerings.
Kevin Youel Page: GSA Plans to Make Transactional Data Reporting Pilot Voluntary
The General Services Administration has begun to consider whether to lift a mandate that requires commercial vendors to participate in a three-year pilot program for transactional data reporting process.
VMware’s Tim Merrigan: Agencies Should Centralize IT Operations to Modernize Service Delivery
Tim Merrigan, vice president of state, local and education at VMware, has said government agencies should work to centralize information technology operations in an effort to determine their requirements and change the way they deliver services to citizens.
Air Force Taps Engility Subsidiary to Assist Space & Missile Systems Center’s Engineering Directorate
An Engility subsidiary has won a potential $41 million task order from the U.S. Air Force to provide advisory and assistance services to the Space and Missile Systems Center’s engineering directorate.
Elaine Duke Starts Role as DHS Deputy Secretary; John Kelly Comments
Elaine Duke, formerly undersecretary for management at the Department of Homeland Security, has assumed new duties as the seventh deputy secretary of DHS and she will act as the department’s chief operating officer in this capacity.

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