President Barack Obama's administration plans to pull the plug on the troubled "virtual fence" project that was meant to better guard stretches of the U.S. border with Mexico, a senior lawmaker said on Friday.
The project, being run by Boeing Co, has cost about $1 billion so far and was meant to pull together video cameras, radar, sensors and other technologies to detect smugglers trying to cross the porous border.
"The SBInet program has been a grave and expensive disappointment since its inception," Representative Bennie Thompson, the senior Democrat on the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement which noted that the Department of Homeland Security was ending the project.
Thompson said that nearly $1 billion had been spent for only 53 miles of coverage in the project that started during the administration of former President George W. Bush.
A DHS spokesman had no immediate comment and a Boeing representative was not immediately available for comment.
The SBInet project has faced setbacks, missed deadlines and cost overruns. The future of the project has been in doubt for some time after bipartisan criticism by lawmakers and also from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Some of the concerns centered on the project's development of costly new systems instead of using readily available off-the-shelf technologies, and that there was not enough consultations with border police as it was developed.
Last year Napolitano pulled $50 million of funding for the SBInet project that was included in the massive economic stimulus package and froze other funds for it pending a review.
She said in March that the money would instead be used to buy existing technologies like thermal imaging devices and ultra-light plane detection systems, among other things.