Homeland Security: U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Program's Long-standing Lack of Strategic Direction and Management Controls Needs to Be Addressed

GAO-07-1065 Published: Aug 31, 2007. Publicly Released: Aug 31, 2007.
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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established a program known as U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) to collect, maintain, and share information, including biometric identifiers, on certain foreign nationals who travel to the United States. By congressional mandate, DHS is to develop and submit an expenditure plan for US-VISIT that satisfies certain conditions, including being reviewed by GAO. GAO reviewed the plan to (1) determine if the plan satisfied these conditions, (2) follow up on certain recommendations related to the program, and (3) provide any other observations. To address the mandate, GAO assessed plans and related documentation against federal guidelines and industry standards and interviewed the appropriate DHS officials.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security The Secretary of DHS should report to the department's authorization and appropriations committees on its reasons for not fully addressing its expenditure plan legislative conditions and our prior recommendations.
Closed – Not Implemented
In agency comments on this report, DHS stated that it agreed with the majority of GAO's findings. Subsequently, US-VISIT program officials told us that they have periodically briefed their authorization and appropriation committees on program-related issues, including reasons for not having fully satisfied all expenditure plan legislative conditions and GAO's prior recommendations. However, documentation of these congressional briefings provided by US-VISIT does not indicate that the program's reasons for not fully addressing expenditure plan legislative conditions or our open recommendations were discussed. Further, staff with the Senate and House appropriations committees that focus on US-VISIT told us that they were not aware of any briefings in which this information was presented. As of August 2011, DHS officials have yet to provide evidence of discussions with the congressional committees regarding the topics of this recommendation.

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