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Homeland Security: U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology Program Planning and Execution Improvements Needed

GAO-09-96 Published: Dec 12, 2008. Publicly Released: Dec 12, 2008.
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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 and from 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's objectives were to (1) determine if the plan satisfies the twelve legislative conditions and (2) provide observations about the plan and management of the program. To accomplish this, GAO assessed the plan and related DHS certification letters against each aspect of each legislative condition and assessed program documentation against federal guidelines and industry standards.


Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security To assist DHS in planning and executing US-VISIT, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the department's Investment Review Board to review the reasons for the plan's limitations and address the challenges and weaknesses raised by our observations about the proposed air and sea exit solution, risk management, and the implementation of earned value management, and to report the results to Congress.
Closed – Implemented
DHS's Acquisition Review Board, which is responsible for the department's investment reviews, has reviewed and effectively concurred with US-VISIT's efforts to address the challenges and weaknesses discussed in our observations on the program's fiscal year 2008 expenditure plan. In November 2008, US-VISIT briefed the DHS Acquisition Review Board on the challenges and weaknesses discussed in our report, including those for the proposed air and sea exit solution, risk management, and earned value management. The presentation described each of the specific concerns we raised, detailed remedial actions to be taken, and reported progress already made in addressing each concern. In February 2009, the board issued a memo that approved next steps for the US-VISIT program, including the air/sea exit pilots, without specifying changes to the remediation plan. By reviewing US-VISIT's planned remedial actions and progress, and subsequently authorizing the program to proceed, DHS's Acquisition Review Board effectively addressed this recommendation and made progress in ensuring that the program is better planned and implemented.

Full Report

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Biometric identificationBiometricsCost analysisData collectionFuture budget projectionsHomeland securityImmigrantsInformation disclosureInformation managementInformation technologyInternal controlsInternational travelLegislationProcurement planningProgram evaluationProgram managementReporting requirementsStrategic planningInformation sharingProgram costsProgram implementation