Border Wall Proposals Remain Short on IT Infrastructure Specifics

DHS contracting documents indicate contractors selected to participate in border wall prototypes may be asked to propose future technology requirements.

WASHINGTON – The requests for proposals for border wall prototypes do not specify details about IT infrastructure – such as fiber optics, communications towers, remote video surveillance systems and ground sensors – but do leave the potential for contractors to fill in details in future task orders.

Contracting documents released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) indicate that contractors selected to participate in prototypes may be asked to propose future requirements including “supporting tactical infrastructure and technology along the southwest border,” Federal Computer Week reports

The DHS and Customs and Border Protection on March 17 issued two prototype RFPs: one for a solid concrete wall and another that includes a “see-through component/capability to the wall that facilitates situational awareness,” according to FCW.

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The prototypes – 18-feet-tall and descending at least six feet underground – will include elements such as anti-climbing features and an aesthetically pleasing appearance, according to contracting documents.

The solid concrete wall RFP included a few broad IT and technology-oriented details, such as telecommunications towers that would provide tactical communications for border patrol command and control.

The additional task orders for support technology would fit with DHS and congressional calls for more technological layers to support the physical barrier, according to FCW.

In January, DHS Secretary John Kelly told his Senate confirmation panel that a wall, by itself, “won’t do the job” of preventing illegal immigration across the border. He said the physical barrier should be augmented with technology, such as aerial observation platforms, sensors, surveillance towers, unmanned airborne drones and simple human patrols to form “a layered approach” to border security.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), whose district includes more than 800 miles of U.S.-Mexico borderland, has also called for a sector-by-sector, technologically layered approach to border security.

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