GAO: DHS fails to deliver plan for Congress' oversight of US-VISIT

Planned Expenditures for U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Program Need to Be Adequately Defined and Justified [.pdf]

Despite improvements in several areas, the Homeland Security Department has so far failed to deliver a spending plan and supporting data that would allow Congress to perform adequate oversight of the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program, according to the Government Accountability Office.

In a review of how well the department has complied with mandates laid out in the DHS Appropriations Act of 2006, GAO said DHS had satisfied several requirements but only partially met others.

DHS still does not meet the requirement that US-VISIT comply with the department’s enterprise architecture, for example. It had also only partially met recommendations that its spending plan for the program fully disclose how the US-VISIT acquisition is being managed, and that it fully disclose the program’s cost, schedule, capabilities and benefits.

GAO said it had two other concerns: DHS has not adequately defined and justified its fiscal 2006 plans for US-VISIT pilot and demonstration projects, and the department has continued to invest in the program without showing how it fits operationally with border security and immigration enforcement initiatives.

Overall, GAO said, the US-VISIT fiscal 2006 expenditure and program information “do not provide a sufficient basis for Congress to exercise effective oversight of the program.”

Steven Pecinovsky, director of the DHS Departmental GAO/Office of Inspector General Liaison Office, agreed with GAO’s findings. He pointed out in a written response that a revised plan had been submitted to the House and Senate Appropriations committees. The plan contained the more accurate attribution of costs that GAO had called for in its report, he said.

GAO also recommended that DHS limit further spending on pilot tests and demonstrations until each could be justified as part of a well-defined evaluation plan, and that the US-VISIT program director work more closely with the DHS Enterprise Architecture Board to mitigate program risk involved in any new spending.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.


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