WASHINGTON – U.S. Customs and Border Protection drones have had “minimal” impact on stemming illegal immigration and the agency has drastically understated the program’s cost while failing to prove its value, an inspector general’s report says.
The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general recommended the CBP scrap plans to spend $443 million on additional unmanned aircraft systems, suggesting it put the money to better use.
The Office of the Inspector General said its second audit of the program since 2012 found the CBP did not yet have a reliable way to measure the program’s performance. It said drone surveillance helped with fewer than 2 percent of captures of people crossing the border illegally during fiscal year 2013. While the CBP’s Office of Air and Marine calculated the cost of operating a drone at $2,468 per hour, the inspector general put the actual hourly rate at $12,255.