Combating Nuclear Smuggling: Recent Testing Raises Issues About the Potential Effectiveness of Advanced Radiation Detection Portal Monitors Page: 4 of 13
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performance of current handheld radiation detectors.2 In addition, in 2008
we estimated the lifecycle cost of each standard cargo version of the ASP
(including deployment costs) to be about $822,000, compared with about
$308,000 for the PVT standard cargo portal, and the total program cost for
DNDO's latest plan for deploying radiation portal monitors-which relies
on a combination of ASPs and PVTs and does not deploy radiation portal
monitors at all border crossings-to be about $2 billion.3
Concerned about the performance and cost of the ASP monitors, Congress
required the Secretary of Homeland Security to certify that the monitors
will provide a "significant increase in operational effectiveness" before
DNDO obligates funds for full-scale ASP procurement.4 In response, CBP,
DNDO, and the DHS management directorate jointly issued criteria for
determining whether the new technology provides a significant increase in
operational effectiveness. The primary screening criteria require that the
new portal monitors detect potential threats as well as or better than
PVTs, show improved performance in detection of highly enriched
uranium (HEU), and reduce by 80 percent the number of innocent alarms
that are sent to secondary inspection. To meet the secondary screening
criteria, the new portal monitors must reduce the probability of
misidentifying special nuclear material (e.g., HEU and plutonium) and the
average time to conduct secondary screenings.
DNDO designed and coordinated a new series of tests, originally
scheduled to run from April 2008 through September 2008, to determine
whether the new portal monitors meet the certification criteria and are
ready for deployment. Key phases of this round of testing include
concurrent testing led by DNDO of the new and current equipment's
ability to detect and identify threats and of ASPs' readiness to be
integrated into operations for both primary and secondary screening at
ports of entry; field validation testing led by CBP at four northern and
2Combating Nuclear Smuggling: Additional Actions Needed to Ensure Adequate Testing
of Next Generation Radiation Detection Equipment. GAO-07-1247T, (Washington, D.C.:
Sept. 18, 2007).
3Combating Nuclear Smuggling: DHS's Program to Procure and Deploy Advanced
Radiation Detection Portal Monitors Is Likely to Exceed the Department's Previous Cost
Estimates. GAO-08-1108R, (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 22, 2008).
4Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-161, 121 Stat. 1844, 2069 (2007);
Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009, Pub.
L. No. 110-329, 121 Stat. 3574, 3679 (2008); Department of Homeland Security
Appropriations Act, 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-83, 123 Stat. 2142, 2167 (2009).
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Combating Nuclear Smuggling: Recent Testing Raises Issues About the Potential Effectiveness of Advanced Radiation Detection Portal Monitors, text, November 17, 2009; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc290925/m1/4/: accessed September 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.