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.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

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

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

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