Tracking visitors to US on schedule, but plan showing integration with other programs needed

Published 27 January 2006

DHS has done a good job keeping various visitor tracking programs on schedule; the point now is to show how they all integrate in a cohesive whole

DHS has spent about $1.4 billion on a system to track visitors to the United States, but the agency is yet to complete a strategic plan and key cost-benefit analyses for the nation’s visitor tracking system, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) official told Congress on Wednesday. Randolph Hite, GAO’s director of information technology architecture and systems issues, said that DHS has met the timeline goals for the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program, but that DHS lacks a final plan showing how the program will be integrated with other immigration and security initiatives.

US VISIT aims to check visitors’ biometric and biographic information against terrorist and criminal watch lists. It is operating at 115 airports, 14 seaports, and 154 land ports of entry, as well as at U.S. consulates abroad. More than forty-seven million visitors have been screened to date, resulting in the identification of more than 1,000 people with criminal records. Thousands more have been denied visas at consulates abroad because their names came up on watch lists.

-read more in this report