GAO wants better US-VISIT oversight

Government Accountability Office officials released a report this week that calls for program management scrutiny and exit system reassessment for the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program.

The Homeland Security Department needs more rigorous, disciplined tracking of schedules, costs and benefits for US-VISIT, according to the report.

Randolph Hite, GAO director for information technology architecture and systems issues, said, "what they need to focus on, given [US-VISIT's] size, importance and complexity, is, first, making sure I'm doing the right thing. Is it going to produce value? Is it going to be designed and implemented within the context of other related border security programs? Second, am I doing it the right way?"

Getting the right talent is important, Hite said. As of October 2004, US-VISIT officials had filled 59 of 115 positions. As of November 2004, they had hired 88 of 117 planned contractors.

The report focused on the implementation of US-VISIT's exit system, which records foreign visitors' departures. As of November, the system was operational at only five of 15 ports of entry scheduled for evaluation of exit. Eight international airports and one seaport are conducting exit tests.

The report states that "delays have occurred in delivering capability to track the entry and exit of persons entering the United States at air, land and sea ports of entry

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