By 2008, at least some within DPS believed it was a bad idea — and too expensive — to give private contractors such responsibility over border security operations. In the agency's 2008 budget request to the Legislature, DPS asked for money to hire 19 state employees to replace the contract workers then staffing the border security operations and joint intelligence centers.I also was unaware that in August of 2010 Texas faced a public relations "emergency," but that's the world the good folks at DPS apparently lives in:
"It is more desirable and more cost effective to have state employees planning, coordinating, and evaluating joint state-local border security operations that involve more than $100 million in state appropriated funds," the document says.
Instead, the following year, Abrams received a $4.2 million contract in part to staff and provide "leadership" to the Border Security Operations Center, where it would produce plans, analyses and "decision support tools for Texas leadership."
That same year, 2009, the ALIS contract came under the purview of the Texas Rangers. By the next year, it was discontinued — because, officials said, the state could do the work itself for less money.
"The contract was coming to an end and when I looked at what (ALIS) was doing, I promoted people within the division to do the same jobs. It was more cost effective to do it ourselves," said former Ranger chief Tony Leal.
In January 2010, DPS Director Steven McCraw told commissioners: "There's a tendency toward everything being an emergency. We recognize that's not the way to do business. We need to plan ahead."Sounds like the McCaffrey report and the recent Spring Break warning are all part of a broader public relations campaign. For that kind of money, there's likely more misinformation coming, or else this was the most expensive PR advice Texas taxpayers ever paid for.
But seven months later, DPS gave Abrams another emergency, no-bid contract, worth $1.4 million, in part to shape the state's public message on border security. ...
In August 2010, the DPS enlisted Abrams to develop a public and media outreach strategy to "position Texas border security efforts in a positive light," paying the firm to develop talking points, presentations, testimony and the "orientation" of senior government leaders. Abrams created a public relations campaign featuring 36 principal messages, including "The success of Texas border security and law enforcement efforts are critical to preserving you and your family's safety and way of life" and "Border Security is a Federal Responsibility but a Texas problem" — the exact language contained in an earlier Perry speech and a common refrain during Perry's presidential campaign.
A draft document obtained by the American-Statesman, titled "Border Security Public Outreach Themes and Messages," includes talking points that would seem to boost the firm's standing. In touting Operation Border Star, the state's principal border security strategy, the document says that law enforcement agencies "join with private companies" to "reduce border-related crime." The messages were meant to be used by the agency's public information department and to guide agency interactions with the media.
DPS officials say they contracted with ALIS on media outreach because they wanted the public to know about Mexican cartels recruiting Texas students to carry drugs and other threats such as smuggling operations and public corruption.