IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Review defends spending on small border stations

An internal review of the Obama administration's own plan to spend tens of millions of dollars upgrading little-used border checkpoints ahead of busier ones justified its choices, but a senior Democratic senator said he will ask congressional investigators for a separate audit.
/ Source: The Associated Press

An internal review of the Obama administration's own plan to spend tens of millions of dollars upgrading little-used border checkpoints ahead of busier ones justified its choices, but a senior Democratic senator said he will ask congressional investigators for a separate audit.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano ordered the review in response to concerns that too much economic recovery money was being spent on small northern border crossings, while larger facilities that see more traffic were passed over.

A panel Napolitano named found that the administration was constrained by requirements Congress put in the stimulus law. This resulted in funding checkpoints which are considered lower priorities on the government's master list of the nation's 163 border crossings.

But North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, a Democrat, said spending more than $10 million to tear down and rebuild these facilities will be a waste of money. He is asking for Congress' investigative arm to do a separate audit.

Nine of the checkpoints getting stimulus dollars are in North Dakota.

The Associated Press reported in August that despite promises the stimulus plan would be transparent and free of politics, the government is handing out $720 million for border upgrades under a process that is secretive and thus susceptible to political influence. Two powerful Democratic senators took credit for persuading the administration to direct money to border crossings in their home state, Montana.

The department refuses to publicly release its priority lists or its justifications for deviating from it.