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Government Seeks New Border Technology Plan

A month after the Department of Homeland Security scrapped its "virtual fence" project along the U.S.-Mexico Border, government officials told industry representatives Thursday that they are now ready to accept new proposals.

Mark Borkowski, from Customs and Border Patrol's Office of Technology, Innovation, and Acquistion, told the room full of potential contractors that the government no longer wants one monolithic system to secure the border. Instead, they are looking for different systems for the different terrain the Border Patrol monitors. More importantly, they do not want to develop these systems, as they tried to do in the past, with their "virtual fence" project, known as SBI-Net. They only want to buy what has already been built.

"This shift from developing something to buying what?s already there is a fundamental change in the way we?re doing business," Borkowski said. "A lot of the challenges in SBI-Net were the fact that we were trying to create something that did not exist and we did not have the capacity to manage that kind of an effort."

The new plan estimates a $750 million dollar budget for border security in Arizona alone. This is slightly less than the $1 billion dollars already spent on SBI-Net that was cancelled, after a more than five-year run, in January.

Devin Browne was a reporter for KZJZ's Fronteras Desk.