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Newest Plans For A Digital U.S.-Mexico Border

The Department of Homeland has quietly started asking contractors for ways to revive parts of a billion dollar border project that it scrapped less than two weeks ago.

The Strategic Border Initiative or SBInet,was a virtual fence along the U.S. Mexico border. Shortly after the project was killed off earlier this month, federal records reveal Customs and Border Protection put the call out again, asking contractors to come up with fresh ideas for a fixed network of towers along the border, much like the scrapped program.

David Aguilar is the deputy commissioner for Customs and Border Protection.

"The big difference is that the SBInet, as originally intended, as originally started, was the development of a system. of an integrated system that gave us a common picture as a whole and it was a development project," he said.

The request for information as it's known, asks contractors to come up with off the shelf ideas for small networks of towers along the border.

The Government Accounting Office blamed the failure of the first version of SBInet on mismanagement, wasteful spending and faulty components. Aguilar says many of those issues have been dealt with.

The Boeing Corporation, which managed the first failed program will get a crack at the new version.

Aguilar again.

"There will be clear, open competition for everything we do related to technology on the border. Which of course Boeing can go ahead and compete for that on a level ground with everybody else out there."

The request for ideas is open until Feb. 8.

Fronteras Desk senior editor Michel Marizco is an award-winning investigative reporter based in Flagstaff.