Drones

Border Drones Cost More Than Advertised and Offer Dubious Benefits, Says Inspector General

|

CBP

It's hard to tell if the use of drones to patrol the borders by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is cost-effective, says the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General. While flying them is a hell of a lot pricier than CBP admits, there's no actual performance measure to judge them by. That makes them "dubious achievers," according to the Inspector General's analysis.

CBP claims that flying its fleet of ten remotely operated, unmanned aircraft, which have been on patrol along the borders for eight years, costs $2,468 per flight hour—a bargain!

Not so fast, answers the Office of the Inspector General in a report issued yesterday. Once you do a few tricky things, like adding the actual cost of pilots, equipment, and overhead, the actual cost is $12,255 per hour. Is that still a bargain?

Who the hell knows? As it turns out, CBP "has not developed performance measures," so there's really no way to assess whether that expense is worthwhile. Is the program meeting its goals? We'll find out once CBP establishes some.

What we do know is that the use of Predators hasn't lived up to early expectations. The drones aren't spending anywhere near as much time in the air as originally promised, they aren't patrolling as wide an area as was intended, and they certainly don't seem to be reducing border surveillance costs or improving efficiency.

But they do look awfully impressive.

The report recommends that CBP drop plans to spend $443 million on expanding its drone fleet and maybe put its resources into efforts that show some signs of actually working, like manned aircraft and ground patrols.

Below, a peek at why even plans for patrolling the border with tried and true methods should be regarded with skepticism and, perhaps, a little trepidation.

NEXT: John Stossel on Trusting Strangers on the Internet

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. My aunt makes $73 every hour on the laptop . She has been laid off for 8 months but last month her income was $19059 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
    visit the website ????? http://www.jobsfish.com

  2. Where in the Constitution is stopping people from crossing borders an enumerated power of the Federal government?

    -dlj.

    1. Really?

      Article 1, Section 8. Powers of Congress
      “The Congress shall have Power….To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.”

      The fourth paragraph.
      Like it, or not, Congress has passed many immigration laws under the authority of this section, as was intended by the Founders.

  3. They can not be used to apprehend illegal border crossers and are really only used to help stranded and lost illegals.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.