The Department of Homeland Security on Friday delayed approval of a drone surveillance system designed to protect the nation from terrorists.
The delay was the latest in a series of delays and setbacks for the $6.8 billion program, which has been criticized for being too expensive and too slow to respond to emerging threats.
The Obama administration last month said it was moving ahead with its plan to launch the program.
The Defense Department has said it hopes to launch a new program for the first time in 2022, but some congressional Republicans have expressed concerns about the costs of the program and how quickly it could be implemented.
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced earlier this week that the program would be put on hold, citing cost concerns.
The Pentagon’s drone surveillance project is a joint effort between the Department of Defense and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The FBI has worked with the department to develop the system, which is also known as an unmanned aerial vehicle.
In a letter to Johnson, the Senate Homeland Security Committee chairman, Ron Johnson Ronald (Ron) Harold JohnsonDems rally to support Kavanaugh’s nomination in next Congress Dems support Kavanaugh, despite concerns over FBI’s use of informants Sen. Flake says he will vote against Kavanaugh MORE (R-Wis.), said the delay was in keeping with the Trump administration’s decision to end the program that was created in the wake of the attacks in San Bernardino, California, and Orlando, Florida, last year.
“We are not asking for this program to be revived, and we are confident that DHS will work to move this program forward,” Johnson wrote.
“However, the Department must now ensure that the benefits of the new system outweigh the costs,” Johnson said.
“DHS should work to identify ways to expedite its implementation to meet the increased demands on its resources.”
The delay in the drone surveillance approval is another blow to the Obama administration’s effort to build a network of small unmanned aircraft to carry out surveillance over large swaths of the country.
The program has faced a series, mixed, setbacks.
The Trump administration announced it was suspending the program earlier this month, citing concerns about privacy concerns.
DHS is still working to find the right balance between privacy and national security.