Sunday, 23 May 2004

"U.S. Nearing Deal on Way to Track Foreign Visitors"

A front-page story in the New York Times tomorrow, 24 May 2004, U.S. Nearing Deal on Way to Track Foreign Visitors, highlights the potential cost of the USA Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT program for fingerprinting, photgraphing, and compiling lifetime dossiers on visitors to the USA.

The Times says the US-VISIT prime contract “will probably be awarded in coming days to one of three final bidders” who responded to the DHS’ request for proposals in December 2003, in spite of repeated and continuing criticism of US-VISIT in reports by Congressional auditors from the General Accounting Office:

Homeland Security Needs to Improve Entry Exit System Expenditure Planning (GAO-03-563, June 2003)

Risks Facing Key Border and Transportation Security Program Need to Be Addressed (GAO-03-1083, September 2003)

First Phase of Visitor and Immigration Status Program Operating, but Improvements Needed (GAO-04-586, May 2004)

The Times estimates that US-VISIT “could cost as much as $15 billion”, in spite of the US$10 billion bid limit in the request for proposals. But the most recent GAO audit was unable to put any upper limit at all on the potential costs: “DHS does not have a current life cycle cost estimate or a cost/benefit analysis for US-VISIT.”

US-VISIT and CAPPS-II are the two largest DHS programs for collecting information about travellers and their movements. Although the CAPPS-II program for profiling and monitoring of airline passengers is even less well defined than US-VISIT, the GAO audits of US-VISIT (lack of) planning, management, budgeting, and information technology integration suggest some of the problems, and potential cost overruns, that are also likely to affect CAPPS-II as it is developed and if it is ever deployed.

Link | Posted by Edward on Sunday, 23 May 2004, 21:22 ( 9:22 PM)
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