GAO Says Electronic Border Control System Is Problem Plagued - InformationWeek

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12/15/2006
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GAO Says Electronic Border Control System Is Problem Plagued

A multi-billion dollar system of electronic entry and exit checkpoints at U.S. border crossings is suffering from lax controls and inadequate management oversight, according to a GAO report.

A multi-billion dollar system of electronic entry and exit checkpoints at U.S. border crossings is suffering from lax controls and inadequate management oversight that are undermining its effectiveness, according to a report released Thursday by the Government Accountability Office.

GAO inspectors found that 12 US-Visit entry and exit systems in various parts of the country suffered from computer processing problems that could cause oversights or delays in monitoring the flow of temporary visitors in and out of the country.

At nine of those sites, technicians did not have a formal procedure for reporting the glitches, according to the GAO. Where such controls did exist, "they were insufficient and inconsistently administered," the watchdog agency says.

The US-Visit system is being constructed by outsourcer Accenture, under a contract worth up to $10 billion that was awarded by the Department of Homeland Security in 2004.

One of the program's major goals -- giving immigration officials the means to track travelers' exit from the country -- is now in jeopardy as a result of the problems, the GAO says. "A biometric US-Visit exit capability cannot now be implemented without incurring major impact on land [point of entry] facilities," said the report.

The GAO is urging DHS to step up management oversight at the 154 US-Visit sites now in place at land border crossings and to develop better performance metrics to monitor the project's progress.

The GAO said DHS officials have agreed to implement the measures.

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