Entry/exit system plans criticized

GAO report: Information Technology: Homeland Security Needs to Improve Entry Exit System Expenditure Planning

Immigration officials have not disclosed critical details about the capabilities, timeline and cost of the proposed entry/exit system, according to a GAO report released today.

Officials also have failed to develop a system security plan and assess the system's impact on people's privacy, the report stated.

"The first expenditure 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," the report stated. "Without sufficiently detailed information on system plans and progress, the Congress will be impeded in its oversight."

The entry/exit system, recently renamed the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indication Technology (U.S. VISIT) system, uses biometric technology to track foreign visitors moving through the nation's air, land and sea points of entry.

For the most part, officials at the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service) have followed the Office of Management and Budget's capital planning and investment control requirements, the report said. The agency's plans and actions regarding the system have so far followed acquisition rules and guidelines.

However, the initial expenditure plan lacked necessary program details and did not satisfy OMB's security and privacy requirements.

GAO recommended that officials at the Homeland Security Department, which now oversees the program, plan for and implement investment and management controls and ensure the plans provide cost and capability details. The system's program manager should also develop a security plan and conduct a privacy impact analysis, the report stated.

"While this lack of detail is a material limitation in the first plan, it will become even more problematic in the future: As the magnitude and complexity of the entry/exit system acquisition increases in fiscal year 2003 and beyond, so will the importance of creating plans with the appropriate level and scope of information," the report stated.

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