GAO criticizes Homeland's plans for U.S. Visit system

The General Accounting Office said the Homeland Security Department has done a poor job planning the acquisition and deployment of the U.S. Visitor and Immigration Status Indication Technology System, formerly known as the Entry Exit system.

DHS responded indirectly to GAO's criticism and said it would implement some of the congressional agency's recommendations.

U.S. Visit is intended to track persons crossing the border both ways and provide information on the status of foreigners' visas while they are in the U.S. (Click for recent GCN coverage).

Congress has mandated that the executive branch submit plans to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees describing the plans for U.S. Visit, and that GAO review the plans before the government allocates funds to buy it.

GAO recommended that DHS plan and implement management controls for U.S. Visit and generate more detailed plans, which would include the system's capabilities, costs and benefits, as well as how the project will be managed.

In response, DHS took issue with the report, saying that GAO had failed to:

  • Include an assessment of a draft document on U.S. Visit technical architecture and security requirements

  • Recognize that the system complies with Office of Management and Budget requirements

  • Consider DHS' obligation of supplemental appropriations to pay for the system

  • Consider that the implementation plan depends on pending decisions.

  • GAO rejected the department's criticisms of its findings in a detailed counter-response. The watchdog agency said that DHS had adopted several of the report's recommendations, including improving system planning and increasing the level of detail in the plans.

    DHS did not immediately respond to an inquiry about how it plans to modify its approach to the U.S. Visit system acquisition.

    GAO's report (click for PDF) on the matter is titled Information Technology: Homeland Security Needs to Improve Entry Exit System Expenditure Planning.


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