AUGUST 02, 2012
After blowing $230 million on faulty machines that were supposed to detect dangerous nuclear and radiological materials on U.S.-bound cargo, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has another idea to get the job done but it will cost roughly quadruple the money.
It’s a classic example of how government wastes taxpayer dollars on risky experiments that inevitably end up costing even more cash to clean up. In this case, the DHS, the monstrous agency created by Congress to protect national security after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, spent hundreds of millions of dollars on fancy detectors that never worked.
The machines (Advanced Spectroscopic Portal—ASP) were supposed to intercept nuclear or radiological materials smuggled into the U.S. by terrorists. The monitors were projected to cost about $1.2 billion, but DHS halted the program after spending a couple hundred million because it wasn’t working, according to a publication dedicated to covering homeland security affairs.
So what is DHS doing to secure the country from this very serious threat? Officials have come up with a new $1 billion plan that actually relies largely on older and cheaper hand-held monitors. The acting director of the DHS’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (Dr. Huban Gowadia) revealed the grand plan recently at a congressional hearing. Rather than allocate a chunk of change to one large—and extremely risky—program like the ASP monitors, the agency will invest in a mix of technologies, Gowadia told lawmakers.
Gowadia made sure to leave room for perhaps more costly errors, adding that although technological advances have contributed to a revolution in nuclear detection technology, developing it for homeland security applications is an “inherently difficult technical task.” She also threw this in there; that it’s a major challenge to develope cost effective equipment with sufficient technical performance to ensure widespread deployment. Here is the link to Gowadia’s entire testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies.
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