The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program to collect, maintain, and share data on selected foreign nationals entering and exiting the United States at air, sea and land ports of entry (POEs). These data, including biometric identifiers like digital fingerprints, are to be used to screen persons against watch lists, verify visitors' identities, and record arrival and departure. GAO was asked to review implementation at land POE facilities and in doing so GAO analyzed: (1) efforts to implement US-VISIT entry capability; (2) efforts to implement US-VISIT exit capability; and (3) DHS's efforts to define how US-VISIT fits with other emerging border security initiatives. GAO reviewed DHS and US-VISIT program documents, interviewed program officials, and visited 21 land POEs with varied traffic levels on both borders.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Homeland Security||To help DHS achieve benefits commensurate with its investment in US-VISIT at land POEs and security goals and objectives, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the US-VISIT Program Director, in collaboration with the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection to improve existing management controls for identifying and reporting computer processing and other operational problems as they arise at land POEs and ensure that these controls are consistently administered.|
|Department of Homeland Security||To help DHS achieve benefits commensurate with its investment in US-VISIT at land POEs and security goals and objectives, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the US-VISIT Program Director, in collaboration with the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection to develop performance measures for assessing the impact of US-VISIT operations specifically at land POEs.|
|Department of Homeland Security||As DHS finalizes the statutorily mandated report describing a comprehensive biometric entry and exit system for US-VISIT, the Secretary of Homeland Security should take steps to ensure that the report include, among other things, information on the costs, benefits, and feasibility of deploying biometric and nonbiometric exit capabilities at land POEs; a discussion of how DHS intends to move from a nonbiometric exit capability, such as the technology currently being tested, to a reliable biometric exit capability that meets statutory requirements; and a description of how DHS expects to align emerging land border security initiatives with US-VISIT and what facility or facility modifications would be needed at land POEs to ensure that technology and processes work in harmony.|