The U.S. federal government wants private industry to tell it how to secure our borders, because the feds do not have a clue how to do it. Our elected officials and civil servants have ceded to private industry nearly all responsibility and leadership for protecting our borders. One might ask, why do we need them?
Historically, federal programs have done nationally what private industry should not, or can not, do itself. For example, social security, food and drug safety, and national defense.
These programs are managed by career civil servants and implemented by teams of contractors with the necessary processes, systems, and workers. The decisions to create federal programs, and the requirements for carrying them out, have been the responsibility of the Administration and Congress. This has changed.
Gradually over the last 30 years—punctuated by September 11th—the new program area of "homeland security" has emerged to address new threats and dangers at and within our borders.
Michael P. Jackson, former Lockheed executive and current government official serving as deputy secretary of homeland security, recently said to an industry poised to implement the huge Secure Border Initiative:
We're asking you to come back and tell us how to do our business.
I suspect that industry will not actually answer that question. It will respond instead with the usual shopping cart full of expensive gadgets: "virtual" fences, helium-filled airships, and motion-detection video equipment. None of which anyone believes will do the job.
If not government, and if not industry, who will decide how our homeland is effectively secured?