GAO: US-VISIT program has problems

The Homeland Security Department’s plan to require airlines to verify foreign visitors’ fingerprints for exit tracking has major problems, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office published today.

DHS published a notice of proposed rulemaking for biometric exit tracking of foreign visitors under the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program in April. The department said airlines would collect the fingerprints as the travelers were checking in at airports to leave the United States.

GAO said of the program, “The reliability of the cost estimates used to justify the proposed solution is not clear, the proposed solution would provide less security and privacy than other alternatives, and public comments on the proposed solution raise additional concerns, including the impact the solution would have on the industry’s efforts to improve passenger processing and travel. Moreover, the program’s risk management database shows that key risks are not being managed.”

The report also said DHS’ current-year expenditure plan for U.S. Visit partially satisfies eight of 11 conditions set by Congress, and none of the 11 conditions required by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 are fully satisfied by the plan.

As an example, DHS submitted a list of GAO recommendations for improving US-VISIT, as required, but did not supply the requested timeline of when those recommendations would be addressed.

Also, although the US-VISIT spending plan offers data on program management, operations and maintenance, it does not identify contractor costs as required, GAO said.

DHS officials agreed with the findings and made modifications to the expenditure plan in response, the report said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Featured

  • Defense
    Ryan D. McCarthy being sworn in as Army Secretary Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo credit: Sgt. Dana Clarke/U.S. Army)

    Army wants to spend nearly $1B on cloud, data by 2025

    Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said lack of funding or a potential delay in the JEDI cloud bid "strikes to the heart of our concern."

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.