Last week I came upon this story and I shook my head in disbelief.
I have been told by confidential sources that this piece is basically nothing more than a *smear job* by the Austin American-Statesman. I am presenting it, as written, for your perusal, and once you have read it, please read the personal response I received through MY connections.
DPS outsourced border security to private firm via no-bid contracts
By Jeremy Schwartz AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Updated: 10:35 p.m. Thursday, March 15, 2012
Published: 10:28 p.m. Thursday, March 15, 2012
A little-known private defense contractor from Virginia has quietly received about $20 million under a series of no-bid contracts with the State of Texas to develop its border security strategies, an effort that included shaping the state’s public message on the increasingly controversial nature and extent of violence spilling into Texas from Mexico.
According to an internal Department of Public Safety memo, the role of Abrams Learning and Information Systems Inc. expanded dramatically after Gov. Rick Perry, then in the midst of a campaign for governor, ordered an acceleration of border security operations that the state wasn’t equipped to handle on its own.
Over the next 4 1/2 years — ALIS, founded in 2004 by retired Army Gen. John Abrams — would become intimately involved in nearly every aspect of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s border security apparatus, according to documents obtained by the American-Statesman through the Texas Public Information Act. Its assignments ranged from refining the state’s Operation Border Star campaign and coordinating the role of National Guard troops along the border, to setting up the state’s joint intelligence support centers and creating a multimillion-dollar high-tech system to map border crime.
Despite the firm’s work on the state’s most important border operations, ALIS flew so far under the radar that outside of law enforcement, few state and local leaders knew of its activities. Several officials who have worked closely on border security issues said they had no knowledge of the firm until contacted by the Statesman.
Full Story Here:
DPS outsourced border security to private firm via no-bid contracts
I hate to accuse the American-Statesman of political bias, or of being less than supportive of our Texas DPS and their efforts to secure our border with Mexico, but I can’t interpret this story as being anywhere close to support.
My readers know that when I am presented with an issue that gives me pause, I will do whatever research is necessary to find answers, but this story left me stymied. It also left me with no choice but to call on my good friend and Texas State Representative, Joe Driver, and ask him if HE had any knowledge of what, exactly, the American-Statesman was trying to say.
Joe Driver has better resources than I do, and he wanted answers and information on this as much as I did, so, he went to the Director of the Texas DPS, Steven McCraw, and asked him for some input on the matter on our behalf.
Rep. Driver assured Director McCraw that I was very PRO Texas, PRO Law Enforcement, Military and America blogger and was not a *smear blogger*, and that I would present this in a responsible and positive manner.
That said, here is the response we received via email from Director McCraw.
Background Information: During the last decade, violence in northern Mexico has been escalating and threatening the communities along the Texas-Mexico border. Every day Mexican drug cartels exploit the Southwest border moving humans and ton quantities of drugs into the U.S., and weapons and cash back into Mexico. They also use transnational gangs to support their operations on both sides of the border. They are increasingly confrontational in protecting their lucrative criminal enterprises and use sophisticated tactics and military-grade weaponry to stay a step ahead of law enforcement. In the absence of adequate federal resources to secure the border, the State of Texas has worked to develop a proven and successful border security command and control structure, and we continue to build on and improve that system today to protect Texans by adjusting to the constantly evolving threats posed by these ruthless criminal organizations.
DPS contract with ALIS
In 2006, the State of Texas identified a critical need to establish a statewide strategy to centralize the collection of all border incidents and intelligence; establish local, state and federal unified patrol operations on the ground, water and in the air; and leverage detection and communication technology to support patrol operations throughout the border region. That year, the Texas Department of Public Safety sought and obtained access to former military personnel with expertise in intelligence, strategic and tactical planning, command and control, unified command and technology by contracting with the consulting and technology firm Abrams Learning and Information Systems (ALIS), which was approved by the then-director of DPS. ALIS served in a support role by assisting the department in developing a unified framework to optimize information collection, analysis, and around-the-clock statewide reporting used to support intelligence-driven unified patrol operations, including surge operations.
By contracting with ALIS, whose president and CEO is retired four-star General John Nelson Abrams, the department was able to utilize the expertise of former military experts to help the state establish a border security unified command structure to coordinate land, maritime and air operations as well as establish a structure to connect DPS with local and federal law enforcement partners with respect to border security efforts and data collection. These are core competencies of the military and essential to the success that has been achieved to date.
The input provided by ALIS was crucial to helping the department adapt military doctrine for the purposes of creating a unified policing model, which the department continues to use today to address threats along the border. This model also allows for the identification of emerging threats, enabling the state to proactively address those new threats rather than react to them after the fact.
In essence, ALIS was instrumental in establishing the Border Security Operations Center (BSOC) and the Joint Operations Intelligence Centers (JOICs), which are command centers comprised of various law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal level, collectively and constantly monitoring and responding to intelligence, activity and threats occurring along the border. The current Contingency Plan for Cross Border Violence is another example of an invaluable result of the department’s collaboration with ALIS; since the development of the Contingency Plan, the department has successfully activated the plan in response to the threat or occurrence of spillover violence along the Texas-Mexico border.
In 2009, the Public Safety Commission appointed a new department director, Steven C. McCraw. As the new director, McCraw tasked the Texas Rangers with the responsibility of coordinating statewide border security activities. After extensive review, he concluded that since the border security command and control framework was already established and in an effort to identify cost-saving measures to Texas taxpayers, the functions handled by ALIS contract employees could be carried out internally by DPS personnel by establishing new intelligence and operational planning positions within the Department and recruiting experts in these areas. The ALIS contract personnel were no longer used for border-related matters. DPS used state border security funds provided by the Legislature to operate the six JOICs and the BSOC by hiring DPS employees to replace the contract staff. So the ALIS contract personnel were no longer used for border-related matters, which is still the case today.
As a result of enlisting the assistance and expertise of former military experts with ALIS, who have previously served and defended our nation, the State of Texas has developed a first-rate border security program to protect our citizens from those who would do us harm, and it continues to evolve under the Texas Rangers in coordination with our local and federal law enforcement partners to meet the threats posed by the ever-changing tactics and strategies of the ruthless Mexican drug cartels.
I want to extend my most sincere thanks to Rep. Joe Driver and Director Steven McCraw for their input and response to my questions regarding the story by Jeremy Schwartz of the Austin American-Statesman.
I don’t know if the American-Statesman will respond, but the links and tags WILL make them aware that they were mentioned in this post.
The ball is in their court!