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    Subject Term: "Maritime security"

    10 publications with a total of 25 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: Jennifer Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Commandant of the Coast Guard should establish and follow a sound air station optimization process similar to its process for analyzing boat stations to allow it to comprehensively analyze its need for air stations and air facilities and determine what changes may be needed. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Commandant of the Coast Guard should establish a plan with target dates and milestones for closing boat stations that it has determined, through its 9-step process and subsequent analysis, provide overlapping search and rescue coverage and are unnecessarily duplicative. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Commandant of the Coast Guard should take action to close the stations identified according to its plan and target dates. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that efforts to address smuggling through cross-border tunnels, ultralight aircraft, panga boats, and recreational vessels are effective and that managers and stakeholders have the information needed to make decisions, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of CBP to assess and document how the alternative technological solutions being considered will fully meet operational needs related to ultralight aircraft.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and stated that it plans to assess and document requirements related to ultralight aircraft threats and how technological solutions will address these requirements as part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations air domain awareness efforts. DHS plans to complete these efforts by July 2018.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that efforts to address smuggling through cross-border tunnels, ultralight aircraft, panga boats, and recreational vessels are effective and that managers and stakeholders have the information needed to make decisions, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of CBP and the Director of ICE to jointly establish and monitor performance measures and targets related to cross-border tunnels.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and stated that U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will review available information and develop performance measures and targets as deemed appropriate by February 2018.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that efforts to address smuggling through cross-border tunnels, ultralight aircraft, panga boats, and recreational vessels are effective and that managers and stakeholders have the information needed to make decisions, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of CBP to establish and monitor performance targets related to ultralight aircraft.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred and stated that within U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations and the U.S. Border Patrol are developing a joint performance measure and targets for interdicting ultralight aircraft. DHS plans to complete these efforts by October 2017.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that efforts to address smuggling through cross-border tunnels, ultralight aircraft, panga boats, and recreational vessels are effective and that managers and stakeholders have the information needed to make decisions, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)-U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) tunnel committee to convene and establish standard operating procedures for addressing cross-border tunnels, including procedures for sharing information.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS did not concur with this recommendation. However, CBP and ICE agreed that strengthening operational procedures may be beneficial and stated that they will jointly review procedures and discuss revising and/or consolidating the procedures. We continue to believe that the recommendation is valid and will monitor DHS's efforts to address it.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that efforts to address smuggling through cross-border tunnels, ultralight aircraft, panga boats, and recreational vessels are effective and that managers and stakeholders have the information needed to make decisions, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Commissioner of CBP, and the Director of ICE to establish and monitor Regional Coordinating Mechanisms performance measures and targets related to panga boat and recreational vessel smuggling.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS did not concur with this recommendation. DHS stated that that it believes that by establishing common terminology to address our first recommendation, the RECOMs will have more reliable, usable analyses to inform their maritime interdiction efforts. However, DHS did not believe that performance measures and targets related to smuggling by panga boats would provide the most useful strategic assessment of operations to prevent all illicit trafficking, regardless of area of operations or mode of transportation. DHS also cited the recent creation of the DHS Office of Policy, Strategy, and Plans that is to work with U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and other components and offices to better evaluate the effectiveness of all operations that work to prevent the illegal entry of goods and people into the country, as appropriate. We continue to believe that the recommendation is valid and will monitor DHS's efforts to address it.
    Director: John Pendleton
    Phone: (202) 512-3489

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To balance combatant commanders' demands for forward presence with the Navy's needs to sustain a ready force over the long term and identify and mitigate risks consistent with Federal Standards for Internal Control, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to develop a comprehensive assessment of the long-term costs and risks to the Navy's surface and amphibious fleet associated with its increasing reliance on overseas homeporting to meet presence requirements, make any necessary adjustments to its overseas presence based on this assessment, and reassess these risks when making future overseas homeporting decisions and developing future strategic laydown plans.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, the Navy had not completed their assessment.
    Director: Stephen L. Caldwell
    Phone: (202) 512-9610

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that efforts to counter piracy and maritime crime are coordinated and prioritized to effectively address the evolving threat, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, in collaboration with the Secretaries of Defense and State, should work through the Counter-Piracy Steering Group or otherwise collaborate with the Secretaries of Homeland Security, Transportation, and the Treasury, and the Attorney General to determine whether additional actions to address counterpiracy and maritime security, such as developing an action plan that includes elements of a strategic approach, are needed to guide and coordinate activities.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2014, the Executive Office of the President issued the United States Counter Piracy and Maritime Security Action Plan, which includes an annex specific to activities in and around the Gulf of Guinea. While the plan outlines some of the planned indicators of effectiveness for activities in and around the Gulf of Guinea, the extent to which the agencies have assessed or plan to assess costs and benefits are not explicitly addressed. The plan states that the Counter Piracy Steering Group will coordinate, implement, and monitor the objectives outlined in the plan and will assess methods and agency activities to reduce risk and protect the maritime industry from acts of piracy and related maritime crime. The plan identifies an increase in investigating and prosecuting cases and a reduction in the trend of piracy and related maritime crime as tangible indicators of successful implementation of the plan. However, GAO's past work on piracy off the Horn of Africa recommended that, as part of a strategic approach, agencies (1) identify the costs of U.S. counterpiracy efforts including operational, support, and personnel costs; and (2) assess the benefits, and effectiveness of U.S. counterpiracy activities. The 2014 plan and its Gulf of Guinea annex do not include a discussion of these elements of a strategic approach. In August 2017, neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of State (the co-chairs of the Counter Piracy Steering Group) provided an update on the extent to which they have collectively or individually addressed the assessment of costs and benefits for activities in and around the Gulf of Guinea. Including these elements in the plan can help assess the effectiveness of current efforts, prioritize future efforts, and leverage resources. GAO will continue to monitor progress in this area.
    Director: Gregory C. Wilshusen
    Phone: (202) 512-6244

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure in the maritime sector, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commandant of the Coast Guard to work with federal and nonfederal partners to ensure that the maritime risk assessment includes cyber-related threats, vulnerabilities, and potential consequences.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, USCG stated that the National Maritime Strategic Risk Assessment (NMSRA) was still being finalized. The agency stated that they expected this to be completed by July 2017. Once completed, we will analyze the results of the NMSRA in order to validate the extent to which its contents implement our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure in the maritime sector, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commandant of the Coast Guard to use the results of the risk assessment to inform how guidance for area maritime security plans, facility security plans, and other securityrelated planning should address cyber-related risk for the maritime sector.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, USCG stated that it had developed a draft Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) to provide guidance on assessment methods that assist vessel and facility owners and operators identify and address cybersecurity vulnerabilities. USCG stated that the draft NVIC would be published in the Federal Register for 60 days, to enable maritime stakeholders to review and provide comment. Once USCG provides us a final copy of the NVIC, we will analyze it to determine if it provides guidance for addressing cyber-related risk in the maritime sector.
    Recommendation: To enhance the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure in the maritime sector, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commandant of the Coast Guard to work with federal and nonfederal stakeholders to determine if the Maritime Modal Sector Coordinating Council should be reestablished to better facilitate stakeholder coordination and information sharing across the maritime environment at the national level.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) stated that the tasking for the National Maritime Security Advisory Committee to explore the issue of information sharing mechanisms in regards to cyber information had been completed. However, USCG did not mention any decision related to the reestablishment of the sector coordinating council.
    Recommendation: To help ensure the effective use of Port Security Grant Program funds to support the program's stated mission of addressing vulnerabilities in the maritime port environment, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator, in coordination with the Coast Guard, to develop procedures for officials at the field review level (i.e., captains of the port) and national review level (i.e., the National Review Panel and FEMA) to consult cybersecurity subject matter experts from the Coast Guard and other relevant DHS components, if applicable, during the review of cybersecurity grant proposals for funding.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, FEMA officials stated they would provide GAO an update on the status of the recommendation by July 2017. Once provided, we will analyze the information we receive and update status of implementation efforts.
    Recommendation: To help ensure the effective use of Port Security Grant Program funds to support the program's stated mission of addressing vulnerabilities in the maritime port environment, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator, in coordination with the Coast Guard, to use any information on cyberrelated threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences identified in the maritime risk assessment to inform future versions of funding guidance for grant applicants and reviews at the field and national levels.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, FEMA officials stated they would provide GAO an update on the status of the recommendation by July 2017. Once provided, we will analyze the information received and update status of implementation efforts.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help assess and improve the timeliness of the trusted traveler application adjudication process, the Commissioner of CBP should establish an updated performance target for completing application vetting and a process to modify that target, as needed, based on factors such as changes in the number of trusted traveler program applications and available resources.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security: Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to CBP, the agency is transitioning to a new vetting platform, which will allow them to more fully assess application data. The estimated completion date is December 30, 2015.
    Recommendation: To help assess and improve the timeliness of the trusted traveler application adjudication process, the Commissioner of CBP should assess the feasibility of practices to expedite the interview process, which could include assessing the potential trade-offs, costs, and benefits associated with any proposed practices, such as those currently proposed or implemented at specific enrollment centers, and implement those practices CBP determines to be feasible.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security: Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to CBP, the Office of Field Operations, Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) Division intends to complete the recommendation and provide a summary of findings and recommended best practices by December 30, 2015.
    Recommendation: To help assess and improve the timeliness of the trusted traveler application adjudication process, the Commissioner of CBP should develop a mechanism to track enrollment interview appointment availability data over time.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security: Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to CBP, the agency has initiated a redesign of the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES), to include GOES scheduling. A report on this effort, expected to further establish the project deliverables, level of effort, milestones and estimated completion timeline, is scheduled to be completed by December 30, 2015.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the trusted traveler eligibility criteria and applicant adjudication processes are consistently implemented in accordance with CBP policy at all enrollment centers and by partner countries, the Commissioner of CBP should establish a mechanism or mechanisms in GES to allow CBP officers to efficiently document the types of interview questions asked and the nature of applicant responses, when appropriate, and then use this information to monitor the implementation of the interview process.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security: Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information. Status last updated October 16, 2015.
    Director: Caldwell, Stephen L
    Phone: (202)512-9610

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure consistent implementation of and accountability for DHS's resilience policy, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Assistant Secretary for Policy to develop an implementation strategy for this new policy that identifies the following characteristics and others that may be deemed appropriate: (1) steps needed to achieve results, by developing priorities, milestones, and performance measures; (2) responsible entities, their roles compared with those of others, and mechanisms needed for successful coordination; and (3) sources and types of resources and investments associated with the strategy, and where those resources and investments should be targeted.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In the 60-day letter provided in January 2013, DHS indicated that the Resilience Integration Team (RIT) was developing a draft implementation plan to be circulated among relevant stakeholders for review. On 10/30/13, we notified DHS that we would like to see a copy of the resilience policy implementation plan (if developed), or any other related documentation if the plan is still in development. We were informed later that day that a draft plan had been developed, and DHS needed to confirm its status. In May of 2015, we were told again that a draft plan had been developed but never finalized. As of August 2015, DHS's Policy Office is looking into the status of plan development. We await their response. DHS response still pending as of 10/4/16.
    Director: Caldwell, Stephen L
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen the Coast Guard's efforts to ensure the security of OCS facilities and deepwater ports, the Commandant of the Coast Guard should make improvements to the Marine Information for Safety and Law Enforcement (MISLE) database or MISLE guidance to better ensure that all OCS facilities, both fixed and floating, are accurately and consistently identified and that the results of security inspections are consistently recorded to allow for better data analyses and management of the security inspections process.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2015, the Coast Guard updated its Marine Information for Safety and Law Enforcement (MISLE) Facilities User Guide to reflect an added feature to MISLE that allows users to identify if a vessel or facility is an OCS facility regulated under the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), 33 CFR 106. To ensure that this added feature is used in a consistent manner to accurately classify facilities that are regulated under 33 CFR 106, the Coast Guard is in the process of updating Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 05-03, which provides implementation guidance for MTSA regulations with respect to OCS facilities. As of October 2017, the Coast Guard liaison informed us that the Coast Guard expects to issue the updated circular and complete related activities by the end of 2017. Additionally, in September 2016, the Coast Guard issued an updated MISLE Facility and Platform Inspection Guide that indicates how security inspections can be recorded separately from other types of inspections. These actions should help ensure that the results of security inspections are consistently recorded to allow for better data analyses and allow the Coast Guard to be in a better position to oversee the security inspection process across OCS facilities.
    Director: Grover, Jennifer A
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To identify effective and cost-efficient methods for meeting TWIC program objectives, and assist in determining whether the benefits of continuing to implement and operate the TWIC program in its present form and planned use with readers surpass the costs, the Secretary of Homeland Security should perform an internal control assessment of the TWIC program by (1) analyzing existing controls, (2) identifying related weaknesses and risks, and (3) determining cost-effective actions needed to correct or compensate for those weaknesses so that reasonable assurance of meeting TWIC program objectives can be achieved. This assessment should consider weaknesses we identified in this report among other things, and include: (1) strengthening the TWIC program's controls for preventing and detecting identity fraud, such as requiring certain biographic information from applicants and confirming the information to the extent needed to positively identify the individual, or implementing alternative mechanisms to positively identify individuals; (2) defining the term extensive criminal history for use in the adjudication process and ensuring that adjudicators follow a clearly defined and consistently applied process, with clear criteria, in considering the approval or denial of a TWIC for individuals with extensive criminal convictions not defined as permanent or interim disqualifying offenses; and (3) identifying mechanisms for detecting whether TWIC holders continue to meet TWIC disqualifying criminal offense and immigration-related eligibility requirements after TWIC issuance to prevent unqualified individuals from retaining and using authentic TWICs.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: We reported that internal control weaknesses governing the enrollment, background checking, and use of TWIC potentially limit the program's ability to provide reasonable assurance that access to secure areas of MTSA-regulated facilities is restricted to qualified individuals. We further reported that TSA did not assess the internal controls designed and in place to determine whether they provided reasonable assurance that the program could meet defined mission needs for limiting access to only qualified individuals, and that internal control weaknesses in TWIC enrollment, background checking, and use could have contributed to the breach of selected MTSA-regulated facilities during covert tests conducted by our investigators. We recommended that DHS perform an internal control assessment of the TWIC program by (1) analyzing existing controls, (2) identifying related weaknesses and risks, and (3) determining cost-effective actions needed to correct or compensate for those weaknesses so that reasonable assurance of meeting TWIC program objectives can be achieved. In April 2013, DHS reported that it had taken a number of steps to address our recommendations. For example, it had refreshed and reissued fraudulent document detection training to enrollment personnel; created a mechanism for enrollment personnel to send detailed information of suspected fraud to adjudication personnel; benchmarked TWIC enrollment processes with passport enrollment processes; and defined guidance for adjudicators on the application of discretionary authority. As we reported in May 2013, to determine if the internal control weaknesses identified in our May 2011 report still exist, we conducted limited covert testing in late 2012. Our investigators again acquired an authentic TWIC through fraudulent means and were able to use this card and counterfeit TWIC cards to access areas of ports or port facilities requiring a TWIC for entry at four ports. In February 2014, TSA reported that it, in coordination with Coast Guard and DHS subject matter experts, had established an Executive Steering Committee to address recommendations from the May 2011 report on the TWIC program's internal controls (GAO-11-657). GAO recommended that the internal control assessment be the basis of the effectiveness assessment. In response, the Executive Steering Committee developed an internal control action plan that lists TWIC program control issues GAO identified, along with actions that TSA and the Coast Guard would or would not take to address them. However, based on our review of the internal control action plan and associated documents, and further discussing with TSA officials the methodology used to arrive at the internal control action plan, we determined that the internal control assessment we recommended has not been implemented. Specifically, there is no evidence of a detailed mapping of each policy and process in the program, their interrelationships, and clear linkage to show how actions in one step may enhance or reduce the effectiveness of the TWIC program achieving its stated mission needs. In January 2017 TSA awarded a contract for an internal control assessment of the TWIC program, including the TWIC program?s internal controls of the enrollment, background checking, and credential issuance processes. The assessment, however, is to exclude an assessment of Coast Guard?s role in TWIC enforcement. The project held a kickoff meeting in March of 2017 and is expected to produce final recommendations by August 2017. We believe that this is a positive step towards addressing our recommendation. However, the assessment does not include an evaluation of the use of TWIC, including Coast Guard's role in TWIC enforcement. We continue to believe that the internal control assessment inclusive of TWIC use and the interrelationship between acquiring a TWIC and using it in the maritime environment is needed. For the reasons noted above, this recommendation remains open.
    Recommendation: To identify effective and cost-efficient methods for meeting TWIC program objectives, and assist in determining whether the benefits of continuing to implement and operate the TWIC program in its present form and planned use with readers surpass the costs, the Secretary of Homeland Security should conduct an effectiveness assessment that includes addressing internal control weaknesses and, at a minimum, evaluates whether use of TWIC in its present form and planned use with readers would enhance the posture of security beyond efforts already in place given costs and program risks.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: We reported that DHS had not assessed the program's effectiveness at enhancing security. We recommended that DHS conduct an effectiveness assessment that includes addressing internal control weaknesses and, at a minimum, evaluates whether use of TWIC in its present form and planned use with readers would enhance the posture of security beyond efforts already in place given costs and program risks. In March 2012, DHS reported that it agreed that the results and progress of the internal control actions should be used to further evaluate the effectiveness of the TWIC program. They further noted that as the different long term actions progress, DHS will develop specific plans to address this action. In May 2013 (see GAO-13-198), we reported that DHS had not addressed this recommendation. On January 17, 2014, the explanatory statement accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, directed DHS to complete the assessment that we recommended within 90 days after enactment (April 17, 2014). In February 2014, TSA reported that it, in coordination with Coast Guard and DHS subject matter experts, had established an Executive Steering Committee to address recommendations from the May 2011 report on the TWIC program's internal controls (GAO-11-657). GAO recommended that the internal control assessment be the basis of the effectiveness assessment. In response, the Executive Steering Committee developed an internal control action plan that lists TWIC program control issues GAO identified, along with actions that TSA and the Coast Guard would or would not take to address them. However, based on our review of the internal control action plan and associated documents, and further discussing with TSA officials the methodology used to arrive at the internal control action plan, we determined that the internal control assessment we recommended has not been implemented. Specifically, there is no evidence of a detailed mapping of each policy and process in the program, their interrelationships, and clear linkage to show how actions in one step may enhance or reduce the effectiveness of the TWIC program achieving its stated mission needs. As of March 2017, the internal control assessment we recommended as the basis for initiating the effectiveness assessment had not been completed. However, on January 15, 2016, Coast Guard reported that it had completed its effectiveness assessment. Specifically, DHS completed an effectiveness assessment titled "Security Assessment of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential and Readers." However, the effectiveness assessment did not substantively address the risk concerns identified in our report. For example, the effectiveness assessment lacked the internal control assessment we deem to be the critical first step for fully understanding the TWIC program's controls, costs, and risks. Further, while the effectiveness assessment presented a comparison of alternative credentialing approaches, the assessment did not fully consider, as discussed in our 2011 and 2013 reports, an approach wherein federal security threat assessments could be leveraged in concert with site-specific credentials. The analysis did consider the benefits of updating the TWIC credential to new federal credentialing standards. However, absent from the analysis is a risk-informed basis for disallowing site-specific credentials. While TWIC credentials are developed based on standards aligned with those used by federal entities, each federal entity continues to use site-specific credentials that have varying appearances, rather than a single credential for granting access to all federal entities. This is important, especially because Coast Guard's risk assessment does not include an evaluation of the security benefits and shortfalls that a single credential used nation-wide provide. Absent effectiveness assessment that meets the intent of our recommendation, this recommendation remains open.
    Recommendation: To identify effective and cost-efficient methods for meeting TWIC program objectives, and assist in determining whether the benefits of continuing to implement and operate the TWIC program in its present form and planned use with readers surpass the costs, the Secretary of Homeland Security should use the information from the internal control and effectiveness assessments as the basis for evaluating the costs, benefits, security risks, and corrective actions needed to implement the TWIC program in a manner that will meet stated mission needs and mitigate existing security risks as part of conducting the regulatory analysis on implementing a new regulation on the use of TWIC with biometric card readers.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: We reported that prior to issuing the regulation on implementing the use of TWIC as a flashpass, DHS conducted a regulatory analysis, which asserted that TWIC would increase security. The analysis included an evaluation of the costs and benefits related to implementing TWIC. We further reported that as a proposed regulation on the use of TWIC with biometric card readers is under development, DHS is to issue a new regulatory analysis. Conducting a regulatory analysis using the information from the internal control and effectiveness assessments as the basis for evaluating the costs, benefits, security risks, and needed corrective actions could better inform and enhance the reliability of the new regulatory analysis. Moreover, these actions could help DHS identify and assess the full costs and benefits of implementing the TWIC program in a manner that will meet stated mission needs and mitigate existing security risks, and help ensure that the TWIC program is more effective and cost-efficient than existing measures or alternatives at enhancing maritime security. We therefore recommended that DHS use the information from the internal control and effectiveness assessments we recommended as the basis for evaluating the costs, benefits, security risks, and corrective actions needed to implement the TWIC program in a manner that will meet stated mission needs and mitigate existing security risks as part of conducting the regulatory analysis on implementing a new regulation on the use of TWIC with biometric card readers. In March 2012, DHS reported that upon completion of the internal control and effectiveness assessments, DHS will evaluate the results to determine any subsequent actions, and that any applicable data or risks will be communicated to the Coast Guard for consideration during their regulatory analysis. However, DHS has not implemented the internal control assessment we recommended, which is to be the basis for the effectiveness assessment and addressing this recommendation. Further, the January 15, 2016 effectiveness assessment titled "Security Assessment of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential and Readers" did not substantively address the risk concerns identified in our report. Given shortfalls that remain in addressing our internal control assessment and effectiveness assessment recommendations, this recommendation remains open pending DHS taking corrective actions. As of March 2017, no further action has been taken.
    Director: Caldwell, Stephen L
    Phone: (202) 512-9610

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To facilitate better agency understanding of the potential need and feasibility of expanding electronic verification of seafarers, to improve data collection and sharing, and to comply with the Inflation Adjustment Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commandant of the Coast Guard and Commissioner of CBP to jointly establish an interagency process for sharing and reconciling records of absconder and deserter incidents occurring at U.S. seaports.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) concurred and stated that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Coast Guard would begin to assess the appropriate offices within each component involved in the review and to establish a working group to evaluate the current reporting process within each component, and between CBP and Coast Guard. Further, DHS noted that it was working to co-locate the Coast Guard's ICC Coastwatch and CBP's National Targeting Center-Passenger and that this would help to eliminate many of the absconder-and deserter- reporting inconsistencies GAO identified between Coast Guard and CBP. In January 2013, CBP and Coast Guard officials reported that they had studied the CBP and Coast Guard data and found that multiple factors had likely contributed to the data variances, including differences in definitions for absconders/deserters among CBP and Coast Guard field units, and the method in which field units had recorded and reported absconder and deserter incidents. Officials reported that the two agencies were planning to develop an interagency memorandum of agreement (MOA) with field guidance for reporting absconder and deserter incidents. Officials reported that they expected to finalize and implement the MOA and field guidance by November 30, 2013. In July 2014, CBP described a new process in place for interagency data reconciliation, reporting that this action was taken in lieu of previously discussed plans to develop an interagency MOU. In December 2015, CBP reported that it expected to complete the effort by March 2016. In March 2016, CBP report that it expected to complete the effort by September 2016. CBP officials reported that the Coast Guard and CBP determined that the absconder data variances were caused by the agencies using different reporting criteria. Officials reported that the two agencies were preparing a memo and guidance to issue to field units by August 31, 2016. Officials reported that the recommendation would be fully implemented by September 30, 2016. In September 2016, CBP reported that it expected to implement the effort by December 31, 2016. In December 2016, CBP reported that the agency had drafted a memo to coincide with new Coast Guard procedure for conducting asymmetric migration vetting and deconfliction. CBP was also working to require all ports of entry to report all maritime asymmetric migration events directly to Coastwatch or a Targeting Framework event. However, on October 18, 2016, the DHS Deputy Secretary issued Department Policy Regarding Investigative Data and Event Deconfliction Policy Directive 045-04 that sets forth DHS policy for investigative data and event deconfliction and the use of related deconfliction systems in the course of certain law enforcement activity. As a result of the newly published Directive, DHS requires that CBP develop and implement related policy, by January 17, 2017. The policy directive requires DHS components to develop a policy applicable to components having equities in Investigative Data and Event Deconfliction. The policy will focus on more effective coordination of investigative activity to ensure officer safety by identifying links between ongoing criminal investigations. The Policy also requires that CBP components, at a minimum, conduct deconfliction thru the Deconfliction and Information Coordination Endeavor, Regional Information Sharing Systems Officer Safety Event Deconfliction System, Secure Automated Fast Event Tracking Network or Case Explorer systems. CBP and Coast Guard are now looking at a directive which makes it a port responsibility to deconflict case related information. The timeline for drafting and finalizing that directive is January 2017. Because of this change in direction, CBP and Coast Guard are requesting an extension to March 31, 2017 to finalize and disseminate the new policy.