Plan for new entry-exit system falls short, report says

The plan to create a new entry-exit system to collect information about foreigners who visit the United States lacks key information, such as what the system will cost and how immigration officials at the Homeland Security Department will manage the acquisition process, according to a new General Accounting Office report.

The report (GAO-03-563), said the preliminary plan for the entry-exit system shows it is being designed to meet functional and performance standards set by Congress. But the plan "does not adequately disclose material information about the system, such as what system capabilities and benefits are to be delivered, by when, and at what cost," GAO found.

GAO also said immigration officials have yet to meet Office of Management and Budget requirements to develop a security plan and assess the system's impact on individuals' privacy.

In 2002, more than 440 million people entered the United States at about 300 land, air and sea ports of entry. Congress first required the Immigration and Naturalization Service to begin developing an entry-exit system to track such visitors in 1996. In 2001, the USA PATRIOT Act required that the system rely on biometrics-such as fingerprints, eye shapes and voice patterns-and be capable of interfacing with systems of other law enforcement agencies. Earlier this year, the entry-exit system was renamed the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indication Technology (U.S. VISIT) system.

In a response to GAO's report, Michael Garcia, head of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement at Homeland Security, said GAO's conclusion that immigration officials did not provide sufficient information about the system "fails to consider that the lack of specific detail is attributable to a number of policy decisions that are pending, all of which directly impact the features of the system."

Such pending issues, Garcia said, include whether biometric information will be captured for all people entering and exiting the United States, whether official documents will be required of all visitors, and whether exit control procedures will be based on law enforcement interviews and biographic information about visitors, or rely on biometrics and direct observations to determine that people actually leave the country.

The GAO report said such uncertainties should have been noted in the plan itself, and "notwithstanding these undecided policy matters, the plan could still have provided more detailed information, such as addressing how the acquisition was to be managed."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.