Homeland Security: Visitor and Immigrant Status Program Operating, but Management Improvements Are Still Needed: GAO-06-318T

Hite, Randolph C.
January 2006
GAO Reports;1/25/2006, p1
Government Document
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established a program--the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT)--to collect, maintain, and share information, including biometric identifiers, on selected foreign nationals who enter and exit the United States. US-VISIT uses these biometric identifiers (digital fingerscans and photographs) to screen persons against watch lists and to verify that a visitor is the person who was issued a visa or other travel document. Visitors are also to confirm their departure by having their visas or passports scanned and undergoing fingerscanning at selected air and sea ports of entry. GAO was asked to testify on (1) the status of US-VISIT and (2) DHS progress in implementing recommendations that GAO made as part of its prior reviews of US-VISIT annual expenditure plans. The testimony is based on GAO's prior reports as well as ongoing work for the House Committee on Homeland Security. GAO's recommendations are directed at helping the department improve its capabilities to deliver US-VISIT capability and benefit expectations on time and within budget. According to DHS, the recommendations have made US-VISIT a stronger program. The US-VISIT program has met a number of demanding requirements that were mandated in legislation. A pre-entry screening capability is in place in overseas visa issuance offices, and an entry identification capability is operating at 115 airports, 14 seaports, and 154 land ports of entry. This has been accomplished during a period of DHS-wide change, and has resulted in preventing criminal aliens from entering the country and potentially deterring others from even attempting to do so. Nevertheless, DHS has more to do to implement GAO recommendations aimed at better ensuring that US-VISIT is maximizing its potential for success and holding itself accountable for results. DHS has taken steps to address those GAO recommendations intended to ensure that US-VISIT as defined is the "right thing."...


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