Eliminating the threat of terrorist attacks continues to be a primary U.S. national security focus. According to the 9/11 Commission, constraining the mobility of terrorists is one of the most effective weapons in fighting terrorism. The U.S. government has identified four key gaps in foreign countries’ capacity to prevent terrorist travel overseas, including a key gap in our foreign partners’ ability to address the use of fraudulent travel documents. As a result, U.S. agencies have undertaken a variety of efforts to enhance our foreign partners’ capacity to identify and interdict fraudulent travel documents (i.e., passports and visas).
As GAO reported in June 2011, seven different U.S. government entities across three federal agencies are involved in providing training to foreign government officials to detect fraudulent travel documents. In delivering the training, agencies have similar objectives and often train the same populations (e.g., immigration officials and law enforcement officials) to develop their skills in recognizing the characteristics of altered, counterfeit, or other fraudulent travel documents, sometimes in the same country.
U.S. Agencies and Bureaus Involved in Providing Fraudulent Travel Document Recognition Training to Foreign Immigration and Law Enforcement Officials
Officials from State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism—which coordinates and supports the development and implementation of all U.S. government policies and programs aimed at countering terrorism overseas—told GAO they had been unaware of how many agencies and subagencies are involved in providing fraudulent travel document training to foreign officials. They added that no mechanism existed to encourage coordination among all the parties involved. At the country level, during site visits in March 2011, GAO found that agency officials at two of the four posts it visited did not always collaborate on the delivery of fraudulent travel document recognition training. As a result, some planned training was duplicative and did not make an effective use of limited resources.
We were unable to determine the total amount of money spent on training foreign government officials to detect fraudulent travel documents because the agencies involved did not consistently track the cost of individual training sessions.
GAO recommended in June 2011 that the Secretary of State should
The information contained in this analysis is based on findings from the products listed in the related GAO products section. GAO reviewed the strategies and documentation of U.S. agencies funding and/or implementing foreign capacity-building efforts to prevent terrorist travel overseas, including those of State, DOD, DHS, the Department of Justice, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. GAO met with these agencies and conducted field work in Kenya, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand.
GAO provided a draft of its June 2011 report to State for review and comment. State agreed with GAO’s previous recommendation and reported that efforts to enhance such coordination have begun at the country level. As part of its routine audit work, GAO will track the extent to which progress has been made to address the identified actions and report to Congress.
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Eliminating the threat of terrorist attacks continues to be a primary U.S. national security focus. According to the 9/11 Commission, constraining the mobility of terrorists is one of the most effective weapons in fighting terrorism. This report (1) describes key gaps the U.S. government has identified in foreign countries' capacity to prevent terrorist travel overseas, (2) evaluates how U.S. capa...