Wronged travelers to get new system for filing complaints

IT backbone does not meet program needs

The Homeland Security Department has agreed to replace its existing information technology support for the Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP) with a more effective system, according to a new report from DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner.

The support system is an existing system of the Transportation Security Administration. The system was expanded and modified to form the backbone of the multiagency TRIP created in 2007 to deal with travelers’ complaints about errors in watch list databases, document information and other problems.

However, the redress program still needs improvement in security, privacy, reliability, timeliness, transparency and performance management, Skinner said in the report made available Oct. 13.

“For example, the primary IT system does not meet key requirements and functional capabilities,” the report states. “Efforts by the program manager and others to modify or replace this IT system have been unsuccessful. Second, the program does not have clearly established lines of operational authority to all participating units. As a result, TRIP cannot guarantee effective handling of its customers’ redress cases.”

Skinner advised replacing the existing system and made 23 other recommendations for changes. The department agreed to the replacement and 19 other changes.

However, Skinner said many of the the department’s solutions will take more than a year to develop rather than produce near-term corrective actions.

DHS provided $1.3 billion for the traveler redress system in the fiscal 2010 budget, including $556,088 to replace the IT system with a new case management system, the report notes.

However, Skinner said the recommendation to implement a new system remains open, pending various conditions.

“We consider DHS’ proposed actions responsive to the intent of this recommendation, which is resolved and open,” Skinner wrote. “This recommendation will remain open pending our receipt of documentation that demonstrates the procurement, development and deployment of a replacement TRIP case management system. This documentation must also establish that the replacement system meets the functional requirements we identified for TRIP.”

Units in DHS and the Justice and State departments support the redress program. The DHS agencies involved include TSA, the Customs and Border Protection agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services along with the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program.

The House has twice passed legislation to improve the traveler redress process.

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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