Homeland Security Committee Chairs Question DHS Detector Plan

The chairs of both congressional homeland security committees, Sen. Joe Lieberman and Rep. Bennie Thompson, wrote a letter May 14 asking GAO Comptroller General David Walker to verify that any decision by the Department of Homeland Security to go ahead with a planned $1 billion procurement of next generation nuclear radiation detection monitors is "based on realistic performance testing in operational environments." Also signing the letter were the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee and the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The DHS FY2007 budget includes money for DHS' Domestic Nuclear Detection Office to begin buying these Advanced Spectroscopic Portal sensors, but the 2007 Conference Report also directed the DHS secretary to personally certify the new monitors will provide a "significant increase in operational effectiveness" from current radiation portal monitors. "To be clear, the objective of this audit request is to ensure that, in the event DHS moves forward with the certification of the ASP acquisition, Congress…has the benefit of timely and authoritative GAO findings and recommendations regarding the validity of the DHS certification process and the costs and benefits associated with proceeding with full scale acquisition of ASP sensors," the letter says.

It asks GAO to determine the projected costs to implement both domestic and international portions of the "global nuclear detection architecture" now under development.

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