GAO: Radiation Detectors Not Worth It
We have known for some time about the troubles surrounding the national security program intended to prevent bad guys from importing radiological material that could be used to make a nuke or dirty bomb.
What was not entirely clear until now -- in part because of the questioned behavior of people running the Department of Homeland Security's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office -- is whether costly new machines touted as the solution actually worked.
One thing preventing a clear understanding was the fact that DNDO officials allowed contractors to modify their machines, known as Advanced Spectroscopic Portal monitors, during tests in order to boost the appearance of effectiveness. Let's set that aside for now.
Anyway, the answer about whether the machines are worth their cost seems finally at hand. From a story in today's Post:
"The Department of Homeland Security spent three years pushing for a costly nuclear detection system that does not work as billed, while neglecting to upgrade existing equipment that could have helped improve security, according to a new U.S. Government Accountability Office review and an interview with one of the authors."
"The report is the sharpest critique to date of one of the Bush administration's marquee national security programs, and it marks the culmination of several years of struggle by the GAO to determine whether the detectors worked as well as government officials claimed when first promoting the $1.2 billion project in 2006."
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee sought the report. He said it "means the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) must develop better technology to prevent terrorists from smuggling nuclear weapons across our borders."
Good news: Oversight by the GAO and Congress appears to have prevented the spending of $1 billion on technology that doesn't work as well as needed.
Bad news: Three years have passed, and the country still has very broad vulnerabilities to the importation of radiological materials
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Posted by: lenins5 | June 30, 2009 9:47 AM
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