Only 32 miles of U.S.-Canada border are secure

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 Updated:

Only 32 miles of the 4,000-mile border between the U.S. and Canada had reached an acceptable level of security last year, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

“The remaining miles were assessed at levels that Border Patrol reported are not acceptable,” GAO said. “These border miles are defined as vulnerable to exploitation due to issues related to accessibility and resource availability.”

There are long-standing challenges with the border security approach used by the Department of Homeland Security, such as overlapping efforts by different agencies and the lack of oversight by DHS in its inter-agency intelligence briefings.

Due to the length of the Canadian border, DHS relies on coordination with state, local, tribal and Canadian law enforcement agencies. DHS regularly holds interagency forums to share information with law enforcement agencies, but it is unclear how well these efforts are addressing security holes.

“Numerous partners cited challenges related to the inability to resource the increasing number of interagency forums and raised concerns that some efforts will be overlapping,” GAO said.

Smaller law enforcement agencies have struggled to meet the time and resource commitment required by the forums.

Most border security resources have focused on the U.S.-Mexico border, due to the prevalence of illegal drug trade and immigration, but the terrorism threat on the northern border is actually higher, according to DHS. The large expanse of land and limited law enforcement make it an attractive entry point to the United States.

FAST FACT: Last year, DHS spent $3 billion to investigate illegal activity on the Canadian border, resulting in 6,000 arrests and intercepting over 40,000 pounds of illegal drugs.

Following are other new watchdog reports released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), various federal Offices of Inspector General (OIG), and other government entities.

ENVIRONMENT

  • The Environmental Protection Agency is currently reviewing air quality standards for the six most widespread air pollutants. These standards serve as EPA’s definition of clean air and drive a wide range of regulatory controls. (Congressional Research Service)
  • The EPA received $600 million in stimulus funds last year to help Superfund site clean-up. The EPA is implementing its internal controls on financial monitoring but staff cannot access the results of the reviews, impeding their efforts to manage project costs and review invoices. (EPA Inspector General)

MISC.

  • The simple act of identifying and replacing aging computers at the Internal Revenue Service could result in $12.3 million in cost savings and increase revenue collection by $16.4 million, since IRS staff relies so heavily on information technology. (TIGTA)

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