IG: CBP didn't give auditors enough info on passenger system

The Customs and Border Protection agency did not provide enough information to Homeland Security Department auditors to enable them to conduct a full review of CBP’s largest passenger information database for privacy and security compliance, according to a report from DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner.

As a condition of receiving fiscal 2009 funding, Congress required that CBP certify that it had made certain enhancements to the way it handles and safeguards personally identifiable data in the Automated Targeting System-Passenger database. Congress also stipulated that the IG review those certifications.

However, Skinner wrote in a report released to the public April 10 that the agency did not provide sufficient information for auditors to conduct the review. "We are unable to determine whether Customs and Border Protection properly certified the proposed Automated Targeting System-Passenger enhancements based on the limited information CBP provided for our review,” Skinner wrote.

“CBP did not provide sufficient information about the enhancements or the applicable statutory requirements to enable us to determine whether the proposed enhancements comply with the requirements for handling and securing personal data,” the report states.

Skinner said he requested but did not receive a current risk assessment, a security testing and evaluation plan, or a revised privacy impact assessment. However, he said he was able to review CBP’s operational program enhancements plan, the controls outlined in an August 2007 privacy impact assessment and other supporting documents.

Based on a review of those documents, Skinner said there do not appear to be major risks associated with how CBP is handling personal information.

“We do not foresee any significant risks to the personal data being collected and stored within ATS-P brought about by the proposed system enhancements,” Skinner wrote.

CBP officials did not respond to a request for comment.

About the Author

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

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