GAO: Fake IDs yield passports

People using counterfeit identification documents can easily obtain official United States passports from the State Department, according to a new investigation by the Government Accountability Office.

Terrorist or criminals can exploit gaps in the system to obtain genuine U.S. passports based on false or stolen identities, GAO said in a report posted on the Web on March 13.

GAO undercover investigators were successful in obtaining four passports by using counterfeit identity documents and Social Security numbers from people who were fictitious or deceased, and an investigator was able to use one of those passports to buy an airline ticket, pass through airport security and board a plane, GAO said.

The investigation shows State's system for issuing passports is not fully secured against fraud, GAO concluded, also saying State and its agents have trouble determining the authenticity of the identity documents, including birth certificates and driver's licenses, presented by applicants.

“State officials agreed with GAO that the investigation exposes a major vulnerability in State’s passport issuance process,” the report said. “According to State officials, State’s fraud detection efforts are hampered by limitations to its information-sharing and data access with other federal and state agencies.”

Between July 2005 and August 2008, State and FBI officials identified 112 individuals who had fraudulently gotten passports by using the birth certificates of deceased Americans.

Meanwhile, State has not offered an estimate of the full magnitude of the problem, GAO said, and that department needs greater cooperation from federal and state authorities and greater ability to access other agencies’ records in real time.

About the Author

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

Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.