GAO: US-VISIT management out of whack
- By Alice Lipowicz
- Sep 06, 2007
The Homeland Security Departments U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program is top-heavy in management costs but shows a persistent pattern of management shortcomings, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.
The 167-page report reviews progress on U.S.-VISIT, which collects and validates biometric information from incoming visitors to the United States.
The GAO report describes a longstanding lack of strategic direction and management controls affecting the U.S.-VISIT program, including a lack of justification for high management costs and a failure to plan and implement exit controls.
U.S.-VISIT program management costs in 2006 constituted 135 percent of planned development costs for new capabilities, GAO said. Similarly, in the fiscal 2007 expenditure plan, U.S.-VISIT officials proposed spending $1.25 on management-related activities for each dollar invested in new development.
The plan does not explain the reasons for the sizable investment in management-related activities or otherwise justify it on the basis of measurable expected value, GAO said. Without disclosing and justifying its proposed investment and program management-related efforts, it is unclear that such a large amount of funding for these activities represents the best use of resources.
The report also criticizes U.S.-VISIT for not implementing an exit control program, despite requests from Congress to do so. To date, DHS has produced only a partial plan for an exit solution at airports, and no plans for exit control at land and sea border ports, GAO said. Lack of a well-defined and justified exit solution introduces the risk of repeating failed and costly past exit efforts, the report said.
The report said U.S.-VISIT has not fulfilled completely GAOs previous recommendations, including advice to close gaps in information technology security controls and to implement management controls.
On the upside, DHS U.S.-VISIT prime contract is meeting cost and schedule benchmarks, the GAO said. Nonetheless, GAO said the most recent expenditure plan for U.S.-VISIT "did not provide a sufficient basis for effective program oversight and accountability.
DHS officials, in their response, concurred with most of GAO's observations and recommendations.Alice Lipowicz writes for Washington Technology
, an 1105 Government Information Group publication
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.