Border Security: Challenges in Implementing Border Technology

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-03-12.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                             United States General Accounting Office

GAO                          Testimony
                             Before the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology,
                             and Homeland Security and Subcommittee on Border
                             Security, Immigration, and Citizenship, Committee
                             on the Judiciary, United States Senate
For Release on Delivery
Expected at 10:00 a.m. EST
Wednesday March 12, 2003     BORDER SECURITY
                             Challenges in Implementing
                             Border Technology
                             Statement of Nancy Kingsbury, Managing Director
                             Applied Research and Methods

Mr. Chairmen and Members of the Subcommittees:

I appreciate the opportunity to participate in today’s hearing on border
technology. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) faces enormous
challenges to protect the nation from terrorism.1 One of the primary
missions of the new department focuses on border control – preventing
the illegal entry of people and goods into the United States. Part of this
mission is controlling the passage of travelers through official ports of
entry into the United States. Facilitating the flow of people while
preventing the illegal entry of travelers requires an effective and efficient
process that authenticates a traveler’s identity. Generally, identifying
travelers at the ports of entry is performed by inspecting their travel
documents, such as passports and visas, and asking them questions.
Technologies called biometrics can automate the identification of
individual travelers by one or more of their distinct physiological
characteristics. Biometrics have been suggested as a way of improving the
nation’s ability to determine whether travelers are admissible to the United
States. Today, I will discuss the issues and challenges associated with
using biometrics in border control systems and the significant
management challenges we identified during our ongoing work at land
ports of entry.

My testimony today is based on a body of work we completed last year
examining the use of biometrics for border control and on preliminary
observations related to our ongoing work examining the inspection of
travelers at land border ports of entry. In our report on the use of
biometrics, we discussed the current maturity of several biometric
technologies, the possible implementation of these technologies in current
border control processes, and the policy implications and key
considerations for using these technologies.2 We are also in the process of
reviewing immigration inspections at land border ports of entry, where our
work has included examining the integrity of the inspections process,
programs to segregate low-risk travelers, the technology and equipment

 We recently designated the implementation and transformation of DHS as a high-risk area
due in part to the inherited operational and management challenges faced by the
department. See U.S. General Accounting Office, Major Management Challenges and
Program Risks: Department of Homeland Security, GAO-03-102 (Washington D.C.: Jan.
 U.S. General Accounting Office, Technology Assessment: Using Biometrics for Border
Security, GAO-03-174 (Washington D.C.: Nov. 15, 2002).

Page 1                                        GAO-03-546T Border Security Technology
             used to conduct inspections, immigration intelligence information, and
             inspector training issues.

             In brief, biometric technologies are available today that can be used for
             border control. However, questions remain regarding the technical and
             operational effectiveness of biometric technologies in applications as large
             as border control. Before implementing any biometric border control
             system, a number of other issues would have to be considered, including
             the system’s effect on existing border control procedures and people, the
             costs and benefits of the system, and the system’s effect on privacy,
             convenience, and the economy. Furthermore, technology is only part of
             the solution. Effective security requires technology and people to work
             together to implement policies, processes, and procedures. At land border
             ports of entry, DHS faces several challenges including ensuring that the
             inspections process has sufficient integrity to enable inspectors to
             intercept those who should not enter our country, while still facilitating
             the entry of lawful travelers; ensuring that inspectors have the necessary
             technology, equipment, and training to do their job efficiently and
             effectively; and providing inspectors the access to necessary intelligence

             The United States essentially relies on a two-step process to prevent
Background   inadmissible people from entering the country. The Bureau of Consular
             Affairs in the State Department is responsible for issuing international
             travel documents, such as passports to United States citizens and visas to
             citizens of other countries. On March 1, 2003, the Bureau of Customs and
             Border Protection in the Department of Homeland Security assumed
             responsibility for inspecting travelers at and between ports of entry.
             Inspectors from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the U.S.
             Customs Service, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
             (APHIS) were brought together in this new bureau.

             In fiscal year 2002, there were about 440 million border crossings into the
             United States at over 300 designated ports of entry (see table 1). Of the
             more than 358 million border crossers who entered through land ports of
             entry, almost 50 million entered as pedestrians. The rest entered in more
             than 131 million vehicles, including cars, trucks, buses, and trains. Further,
             the State Department processed about 8.4 million nonimmigrant visa
             applications and issued about 7 million passports.

             Page 2                                   GAO-03-546T Border Security Technology
                      Table 1: Number of Inspections at U.S. Ports of Entry, Fiscal Year 2002

                       Type of port                                               Number of inspections
                       Sea                                                                   12,369,035
                       Air                                                                   69,679,190
                       Land                                                                 358,373,569
                       Total                                                                440,421,794
                      Source: GAO analysis of INS data.

                      The term biometrics covers a wide range of technologies that can be used
                      to verify a person’s identity by measuring and analyzing his or her
                      physiological characteristics, based on data derived from measuring a part
                      of the body directly. For example, technologies have been developed to
                      measure a person’s finger, hand, face, retina, and iris. Biometric systems
                      are essentially pattern recognition systems. They use electronic or optical
                      sensors such as cameras and scanning devices to capture images,
                      recordings, or measurements of a person’s characteristics and computer
                      hardware and software to extract, encode, store, and compare these

                      Using biometrics as identifiers for border security purposes appears to be
                      appealing because they can help tightly bind a traveler to his or her
                      identity by using physiological characteristics. Unlike other identification
                      methods, such as identification cards or passwords, biometrics are less
                      easily lost, stolen, or guessed. The binding is dependent on the quality of
                      the identification document presented by the traveler to enroll in the
                      biometric system. If the identification document does not specify the
                      traveler’s true identity, the biometric data will be linked to a false identity.

                      In our work last year, we examined several different biometric
Applying Biometrics   technologies and found four to be suitable for border control systems:
to Border Control     fingerprint recognition, facial recognition, iris recognition, and hand
                      geometry. Other biometric technologies were determined to be impractical
                      in a border control application because of accuracy or user acceptance
                      issues. For example, speaker recognition systems do not perform well in
                      noisy environments and do not appear to be sufficiently distinctive to
                      permit identification of an individual within a large database of identities.

                      We defined four different scenarios in which biometric technologies could
                      be used to support border control operations. Two scenarios use a
                      biometric watch list to identify travelers who are inadmissible to the
                      United States (1) before issuing travel documents and (2) before travelers

                      Page 3                                      GAO-03-546T Border Security Technology
enter the country. The other two scenarios help bind the claimed identity
of travelers to their travel documents by incorporating biometrics into (1)
U.S. visas or (2) U.S. passports. Linking an individual’s identity to a U.S.
travel document could help reduce the use of counterfeit documents and
imposters’ fraudulent use of legitimate documents.

Biometrics have been used in border control environments for several
years. For example, the INS Passenger Accelerated Service System
(INSPASS), a hand geometry system first installed in 1993, has been used
in seven U.S. and two Canadian airports to reduce inspection time for
trusted travelers. Since April 1998, border crossing cards, also called laser
visas, have been issued to Mexican citizens that include their photograph
and prints of the two index fingers.3 The Automated Biometric Fingerprint
Identification System (IDENT) is used by DHS to identify aliens who are
repeatedly apprehended trying to enter the United States illegally. IDENT
is also being used as a part of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration
System (NSEERS) that was implemented last year.4

Laws passed in the last 2 years require a more extensive use of biometrics
for border control.5 The Attorney General and the Secretary of State
jointly, through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
are to develop a technology standard, including biometric identifier
standards. When developed, this standard is to be used to verify the
identity of persons applying for a U.S. visa for the purpose of conducting a
background check, confirming identity, and ensuring that a person has not
received a visa under a different name. By October 26, 2004, the
Departments of State and Justice are to issue to aliens only machine-
readable, tamper-resistant visas and other travel and entry documents that
use biometric identifiers. At the same time, Justice is to install at all ports
of entry equipment and software that allow the biometric comparison and

 Border crossing cards allow Mexican citizens to enter the United States for the purpose of
business or pleasure without being issued further documentation and to stay for 72 hours
or less within 25 miles of the U.S./Mexican border.
 Under NSEERS, certain nonimmigrants, who may pose a national security risk, are being
registered, and are fingerprinted and photographed when they arrive in the United States.
These nonimmigrants are required to periodically report and update, when changes occur,
their registration information, and record their departure from the country.
 See the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to
Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA PATRIOT Act) (Public Law 107-56,
§403(c) and §414, Oct. 26, 2001) and the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform
Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-173, May 14, 2002).

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                         authentication of all U.S. visas and other travel and entry documents
                         issued to aliens and machine-readable passports.

                         While biometric technology is currently available and used in a variety of
Challenges and           applications, questions remain regarding the technical and operational
Implications to          effectiveness of biometric technologies in applications as large as border
                         control. In addition, before implementing any biometric border control
Applying Biometrics      system, a number of other issues would have to be considered including:
at the Border
                         •   The system’s effect on existing border control procedures and people.
                             Technology is only part of an overall security solution and only as
                             effective as the procedures within which it operates.

                         •   The costs and benefits of the system, including secondary costs
                             resulting from changes in processes or personnel to accommodate the

                         •   The system’s effect on privacy, convenience, and the economy.

Introducing Technology   The successful implementation of any technology depends not only on the
Affects People and       performance of the technology but also on the operational processes that
Procedures               employ the technology and the people who execute them. The
                         implementation of biometrics in border security is no exception. Further,
                         the use of technology alone is not a panacea for the border security
                         problem. Instead, biometric technology is just a piece of the overall
                         decision support system that helps determine whether to allow a person
                         into the United States. The first decision is whether to issue travelers a
                         U.S. travel document. The second decision, made at the ports of entry, is
                         whether to admit travelers into the country. Biometrics can play a role in
                         both decisions. Sorting the admissible travelers from the inadmissible ones
                         is currently conducted by using information systems for checking names
                         against watch lists and by using manual human recognition capabilities to
                         see if the photograph on a travel document matches the person who seeks
                         entry to the United States. When enabled with biometrics, automated
                         systems can verify the identity of the traveler and assist inspectors in their
                         decision making.

                         However, a key factor that must be considered is the performance of the
                         biometric technology. For example, if the biometric technology that is
                         used to perform watch list checks before visas are issued has a high rate of
                         false matches, the visa processing workload could increase at the
                         embassies and consulates. If the same biometric solution were used at the

                         Page 5                                   GAO-03-546T Border Security Technology
                     ports of entry, it could lead to increased delays in the inspection process
                     and an increase in the number of secondary inspections.

                     Exception processing will also have to be carefully considered.
                     Exceptions would include people who fail to enroll in the biometric visa
                     system or are not correctly matched by it. Exception processing that is not
                     as good as biometric-based primary processing could be exploited as a
                     security hole. Failure of equipment must also be considered and planned
                     for. Further, to issue visas with biometrics, an appropriate transition
                     strategy must be devised to simultaneously handle both visas with
                     biometrics and the current visa that could remain valid without biometrics
                     for up to the next 10 years.

Weighing Costs and   Before any significant project investment is made, the benefit and cost
Benefits             information of the project alternatives should be analyzed and assessed in
                     detail. A clear statement of the high-level system goals should drive the
                     overall concept of a U.S. border control system. System goals address the
                     system’s expected outcomes and are usually based on business or public
                     policy needs, which for a border control system could include items such
                     as binding a biometric feature to a person’s identity on a travel document,
                     identifying undesirable persons on a watch list, checking for duplicate
                     enrollments in the system, verifying identities at the borders, ensuring the
                     security of the biometric data, and ensuring the adequacy of privacy
                     protections. The benefits gained from a biometric border control system
                     should be based on how well the system achieves the high-level goals.

                     A concept of operations should be developed that embodies the people,
                     process, and technologies required to achieve the goals. To put together
                     the concept of operations, a number of inputs have to be considered,
                     including legal requirements, existing processes and infrastructure used,
                     and known technology limitations. Performance requirements should also
                     be included in the concept of operations, such as processing times.
                     Business process reengineering, such as new processes to conduct
                     inspections of passengers in vehicles or to maintain a database of
                     biometric data, would also be addressed in the concept of operations.

                     As we have noted, the desired benefit is the prevention of the entry of
                     travelers who are inadmissible to the United States. More specifically, the
                     use of a biometric watch list can provide an additional check to name-
                     based checks and can help detect travelers who have successfully
                     established separate names and identities and are trying to evade
                     detection. The use of visas with biometrics can help positively identify

                     Page 6                                   GAO-03-546T Border Security Technology
travelers as they enter the United States and can limit the use of fraudulent
documents, including counterfeit and modified documents, and impostors’
use of legitimate documents.

However, the benefits gained by using biometric have several limitations.
First, the benefit achieved is directly related to the performance of the
biometric technology. The performance of facial, fingerprint, and iris
recognition is unknown for systems as large as a biometric visa system
that would require storage and comparison against 100 million to 240
million records. The largest facial, fingerprint, and iris recognition systems
contain 60 million, 40 million, and 30,000 records, respectively.

The population of the biometric watch list is critical to its effectiveness.
Policies and procedures would need to be developed for adding and
maintaining records in the watch list database. Key questions that have to
be answered include who is added to the watch list, how someone is
removed from the watch list, and how errors could be corrected.
Successfully identifying people on the biometric watch list is also
dependent on the effectiveness of the law enforcement and intelligence
communities in identifying individuals who should be placed on the watch

Issuing visas with biometrics will only assist in identifying those currently
required to obtain visas to enter this country. For example, Canadians,
Mexicans with border crossing cards, and foreign nationals participating
in the visa waiver program do not have to have a visa to enter the United
States. The issuance of visas with biometrics is also dependent on
establishing the correct identity during enrollment. This process typically
depends on the presentation of identification documents. If the documents
do not specify the applicant’s true identity, then the travel document will
be linked to a false identity.6

Further, biometric technology is not a solution to all border security
problems. Biometric technology can address only problems associated
with identifying travelers at official locations such as embassies and ports
of entry. While the technology can help reduce the number of illegal
immigrants who cross with fraudulent documents, it cannot help with

 We have previously reported on weaknesses in the visa issuing process. See U.S. General
Accounting Office, Border Security: Visa Process Should Be Strengthened as an
Antiterrorism Tool, GAO-03-132NI (Washington D.C.: Oct. 21, 2002).

Page 7                                         GAO-03-546T Border Security Technology
                          illegal immigrants who cross between the ports of entry. INS has
                          previously estimated that up to 60 percent of the 275,000 new illegal
                          immigrants a year do not present themselves at a port of entry to enter the
                          United States. In addition, biometrics cannot help to identify foreign
                          nationals who enter through ports of entry and are properly admitted by
                          an inspector but may overstay their visit.

                          The costs of any proposed system must be considered. Both initial costs
                          and recurring costs need to be estimated. Initial costs need to account for
                          the engineering efforts to design, develop, test, and implement the system;
                          training of personnel; hardware and software costs; network
                          infrastructure improvements; and additional facilities required to enroll
                          people into the biometric system. Recurring cost elements include
                          program management costs, hardware and software maintenance,
                          hardware replacement costs, training of personnel, additional personnel to
                          enroll or verify the identities of travelers in the biometric system, and
                          possibly the issuance of token cards for the storage of biometrics
                          collected for issuing visas. While specific cost estimates depend on the
                          detailed assumptions made for the concept of operations, the costs are

Effect on Privacy, the    The Privacy Act of 1974 limits federal agencies’ collection, use, and
Economy, and              disclosure of personal information, such as fingerprints and photographs.
International Relations   Accordingly, the Privacy Act generally covers federal agency use of
                          personal biometric information. However, as a practical matter, the act is
                          likely to have a more limited application for border security. First, the act
                          applies only to U.S. citizens and lawfully admitted permanent residents.
                          Second, the act includes exemptions for law enforcement and national
                          security purposes. Representatives of civil liberties groups and privacy
                          experts have expressed concerns regarding (1) the adequacy of
                          protections for security, data sharing, identity theft, and other identified
                          uses of biometric data and (2) secondary uses and “function creep.” These
                          concerns relate to the adequacy of protections under current law for the
                          large-scale data handling in a biometric system. Besides information
                          security, concern was voiced about an absence of clear criteria for
                          governing data sharing. The broad exemptions of the Privacy Act, for
                          example, provide no guidance on the extent of the appropriate uses law
                          enforcement may make of biometric information. Because there is no
                          general agreement on the appropriate balance of security and privacy to
                          build into a system using biometrics, further policy decisions are required.
                          The range of unresolved policy issues suggests that questions surrounding

                          Page 8                                   GAO-03-546T Border Security Technology
the use of biometric technology center as much on management policies
as on technical issues.

The use of biometric technologies could potentially impact the length of
the inspection process. Any lengthening in the process of obtaining travel
documents or entering the United States could affect travelers
significantly. At some consular posts, visas are issued the day applications
are received. Even without biometrics, the busiest ports of entry regularly
have delays of 2 to 3 hours. Increases in inspection times could compound
these delays. Delays inconvenience travelers and could result in fewer
visits to the United States or lost business to the nation. Further studies
will be necessary to measure what the potential effect could be on the
American economy and, in particular, on the border communities. These
communities depend on trade with Canada and Mexico, which totaled
$653 billion in 2000.

The use of biometrics in a border control system in the United States
could affect the number of international visitors and how other countries
treat visitors from the United States. Much visa issuance policy is based on
reciprocity—that is, the process for allowing a country’s citizens to enter
the United States would be similar to the process followed by that country
when U.S. citizens travel there. If the United States requires biometric
identifiers when citizens of other countries apply for a visa, those
countries may require U.S. citizens to submit a biometric when applying
for a visa to visit their countries. Similarly, if the United States requires
other countries to collect biometrics from their citizens and store the data
with their passport for verification when they travel here, they may require
the United States to place a biometric in its passports as well.

As more countries require the use of biometrics to cross their borders,
there is a potential for different biometrics to be required for entering
different countries or for the growth of multiple databases of biometrics.
Unless all countries agree on standard biometrics and standard document
formats, a host of biometric scanners might be required at U.S. and other
ports of entry. The International Civil Aviation Organization plans to
standardize biometric technology for machine-readable travel documents,
but biometric data-sharing arrangements between the United States and
other countries would also be required.

Page 9                                  GAO-03-546T Border Security Technology
                         In January 2003, as required by the USA PATRIOT Act and the Enhanced
Issues Raised in Joint   Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act, the Attorney General, the
Report from Justice,     Secretary of State, and NIST jointly submitted a report that focuses on
                         specific legislative requirements related to interoperable databases,
State, and NIST          biometric identifiers, and travel document authentication for entry only.7
                         The report discusses the current border control process, the need for a
                         new approach, and identifies several issues that need to be addressed to
                         make a more extensive use of biometrics in automated border control

                         As a part of this report, NIST developed technical standards for biometric
                         identifiers and tamper-resistance for travel documents. NIST reported that
                         facial recognition and fingerprint recognition are the only biometric
                         technologies with sufficiently large operational databases for testing at
                         this time. NIST concluded that while iris recognition is a promising
                         candidate, it requires collection of a large test database to test the
                         uniqueness of iris data for large samples. NIST recommends that 10
                         fingerprints be used for background identification, and a dual biometric
                         system using 2 fingerprint images and a face image may be needed to meet
                         projected system requirements for verification. For tamper-resistance,
                         NIST recommended the use of a public key infrastructure to authenticate
                         the source of travel documents. According to the report, the Attorney
                         General and the Secretary of State have agreed to use a live-capture digital
                         photograph and fingerprints for identity enrollment, background checks,
                         and identity verification. However, the exact number of fingerprints
                         required at enrollment has not been finalized.

                         The report identifies several issues and considerations that need to be
                         further evaluated and resolved. The resolution of these issues will have
                         significant operational, technical, and cost implications. According to the
                         report, if the various stakeholders of this cross-agency effort do not work
                         out these details before major investments are made, the estimated cost
                         and expected results of the investment will be at risk. Further, the report
                         states that due to the size and complexity of the effort, the deployment
                         schedule will need to be delayed at least 1 year from the October 26, 2004,
                         target date established in the legislation.

                          The Attorney General, Secretary of State, and the National Institute of Standards and
                         Technology, Report to the Congress: Use of Technology Standards and Interoperable
                         Databases with Machine-Readable, Tamper-Resistant Travel Documents (Jan. 2003).

                         Page 10                                         GAO-03-546T Border Security Technology
                     Many of the issues identified in the report are consistent with the
                     challenges we identified in our work last year. For example, the report
                     discusses the need to change the end-to-end business process to
                     incorporate the enrollment and verification of biometric information from
                     travelers. Further, the report cites the need to improve border security
                     without a major adverse effect on tourism, commerce, and border traffic
                     flow. Privacy issues and the effect on international relations are also
                     addressed. Exception processing is discussed. According to the report,
                     approximately 2 percent of the population cannot provide good fingerprint
                     images. As a result, an alternate enrollment and identification procedure
                     will be required for these people. To develop the biometric border control
                     system, the report estimates it would cost about $3.8 billion including
                     initial and recurring costs over a six-year period.

                     The report cites a number of steps that need to be taken by a cross-agency
                     project team to clarify the scope, costs, benefits, and schedule required to
                     implement the legislative requirement. For example, the report cites the
                     need to develop a cross-agency concept of operations for the entire end-to-
                     end process that would guide the scoping, requirements definition, and
                     trade-off analyses required to develop and deploy the system. The concept
                     of operations would also help determine how the proposed solution can
                     balance identity verification and efficient traffic flow objectives at land
                     borders. The report also discusses the need to update the overall costs and
                     benefits of the solution to confirm that the effort will achieve the benefits
                     desired at an acceptable cost. Steps will also need to be taken to align U.S.
                     biometric standards with those of other countries, particularly visa-waiver
                     countries, in a manner consistent with the concept of operations. Finally,
                     the report cites the need to define and establish a cross-agency program
                     management and governance structure to drive the business change and
                     deployment associated with this effort.

                     As the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies consider a
Current Inspection   biometrics-based border security concept of operations, they may need to
Challenges at Land   address current challenges that we have observed during our ongoing
                     work at land ports of entry. At a minimum, these challenges represent
Ports of Entry       potential implementation issues that could affect the security benefits
                     intended by the new border security system. These challenges include:

                     •   Integrity of the Inspections Process. The need to balance the dual
                         objectives of identifying those who should not be permitted entry into
                         the country and keeping traffic and trade flowing through the ports
                         creates potential weaknesses in the process that biometrics can help

                     Page 11                                 GAO-03-546T Border Security Technology
    resolve but not entirely. For example, we recently reported on our
    ability to enter the country at ports of entry with erroneous answers to
    inspector questions and counterfeit identification. 8 Also, at land ports
    of entry, computer checks are made on the vehicle that travelers arrive
    in but not on the driver and passengers unless inspectors suspect
    wrongdoing. Moreover, we observed that new security procedures
    aimed at increasing process integrity were not consistently followed.
    With respect to alternative inspection programs, various trusted
    traveler programs, intended to process large numbers of pre-screened
    travelers quickly so that inspectors can devote more time to travelers
    whose risk is unknown, can be strengthened through wider use of
    biometrics. Some current programs are not attractive to many travelers
    because the cost of participation does not ensure time savings when
    crossing the border.

•   Providing Technology and Equipment to Inspectors. Some current
    border operations are time-consuming because inspectors must
    separately log on and off of several lookout databases that need to be
    checked when more intensive, or secondary, inspections are required.
    This could increase the risk that an inspector might overlook valuable
    information. Further, inspectors still perform many routine
    administrative processes by hand, although some ports of entry have
    successfully automated some of these manual processes. Once the
    concept of operations for a new border security system is adopted,
    extensive introduction of new equipment and automated processes will
    require extensive training and reinforcement.

•   Access to Intelligence Information. The amount of intelligence
    information border inspectors currently receive in a single day can be
    overwhelming, and inspectors report that they do not have enough time
    to read it. Further, because of the need to staff inspection lanes, some
    ports of entry reported not having time to conduct daily intelligence
    and safety briefings, as required. Ensuring that intelligence information
    is relevant, and that inspectors have sufficient time to review and
    absorb it, will present a significant challenge for a new border security

•   Adequate and Consistent Inspector Training. Merging INS and
    Customs inspectors into a single shared inspection force will be a
    significant challenge because INS and Customs train their inspectors at

 U.S. General Accounting Office, Weaknesses In Screening Entrants Into The United
States, GAO-03-438T (Washington D.C.: Jan. 30, 2003).

Page 12                                      GAO-03-546T Border Security Technology
   two separate academies using two different curricula with little time
   devoted to learning each other’s laws and regulations. In addition,
   training, particularly of new inspectors, is a continuing need after
   deployment of inspectors, but the pressures of inspection itself has
   taken precedence over both on-the-job training and formal training at
   some ports.

In conclusion, biometric technologies are available today that can be used
for border security. However, it is important to bear in mind that effective
security cannot be achieved by relying on technology alone. Technology
and people must work together as part of an overall security process. As
we have pointed out, weaknesses in any of these areas, such as those we
identified at land ports of entry, diminishes the effectiveness of the
security process. We have found that three key considerations need to be
addressed before a decision is made to design, develop, and implement
biometrics into a border control system:

1. Decisions must be made on how the technology will be used.

2. A detailed cost-benefit analysis must be conducted to determine that
   the benefits gained from a system outweigh the costs.

3. A trade-off analysis must be conducted between the increased
   security, which the use of biometrics would provide, and the effect on
   areas such as privacy and the economy.

A report recently issued jointly by the Attorney General, Secretary of
State, and NIST agrees with these considerations. As DHS and other
agencies consider the development of a border security system with
biometrics, they need to define what the high-level goals of this system
will be and develop the concept of operations that will embody the people,
process, and technologies required to achieve these goals. With these
answers, the proper role of biometric technologies in border security can
be determined. If these details are not resolved, the estimated cost and
performance of the resulting system will be at risk.

Mr. Chairmen, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer
any questions that you or members of the subcommittees may have.

Page 13                                 GAO-03-546T Border Security Technology
                  For further information, please contact Nancy Kingsbury, Managing
Contacts and      Director, Applied Research and Methods, at (202) 512-2700, or Richard
Acknowledgments   Stana, Director, Homeland Security and Justice, at (202) 512-8777.
                  Individuals making key contributions to this testimony include Yvette
                  Banks, Naba Barkakati, Michael Dino, Barbara Guffy, Richard Hung, Rosa
                  Lin, and Lori Weiss.

                  Page 14                              GAO-03-546T Border Security Technology
Related GAO Products

             Combating Terrorism: Observations on National Strategies Related to
             Terrorism. GAO-03-519T. Washington, D.C.: March 3, 2003.

             Homeland Security: Challenges Facing the Coast Guard as it
             Transitions to the New Department. GAO-03-467T. Washington, D.C.:
             February 12, 2003.

             Weaknesses In Screening Entrants Into The United States. GAO-03-438T.
             Washington, D.C.: January 30, 2003.

             Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of
             Homeland Security. GAO-03-102. Washington, D.C.: January 2003.

             Homeland Security: Management Challenges Facing Federal Leadership.
             GAO-03-260. Washington, D.C.: December 20, 2002.

             Homeland Security: Information Technology Funding and Associated
             Management Issues. GAO-03-250. Washington, D.C.: December 13, 2002.

             Border Security: Implications of Eliminating the Visa Waiver Program.
             GAO-03-38. Washington, D.C.: November 22, 2002.

             Homeland Security: INS Cannot Locate Many Aliens Because It Lacks
             Reliable Address Information. GAO-03-188. Washington, D.C.: November
             21, 2002.

             Container Security: Current Efforts to Detect Nuclear Materials, New
             Initiatives, and Challenges. GAO-03-297T. New York, NY: November 18,

             Technology Assessment: Using Biometrics for Border Security. GAO-03-
             174. Washington, D.C.: November 15, 2002.

             Coast Guard: Strategy Needed for Setting and Monitoring Levels of
             Effort for All Missions. GAO-03-155. Washington, D.C.: November 12,

             Border Security: Visa Process Should Be Strengthened as an
             Antiterrorism Tool. GAO-03-132NI. Washington, D.C.: October 21, 2002.

             Customs Service: Acquisition and Deployment of Radiation Detection
             Equipment. GAO-03-235T. Washington, D.C.: October 17, 2002.

             Page 15                               GAO-03-546T Border Security Technology
           Homeland Security: Effective Intergovernmental Coordination Is Key to
           Success. GAO-02-1013T. Washington, D.C.: August 23, 2002.

           Port Security: Nation Faces Formidable Challenges in Making New
           Initiatives Successful. GAO-02-993T. Washington, D.C.: August 5, 2002.

           Identity Fraud: Prevalence and Links to Alien Illegal Activities. GAO-02-
           830T. Washington, D.C.: June 25, 2002.

           Immigration Enforcement: Challenges to Implementing the INS Interior
           Enforcement Strategy. GAO-02-861T. Washington, D.C.: June 19, 2002.

           National Preparedness: Integrating New and Existing Technology and
           Information Sharing into an Effective Homeland Security Strategy.
           GAO-02-811T. Washington, D.C.: June 7, 2002.

           Customs Service Modernization: Management Improvements Needed on
           High-Risk Automated Commercial Environment Project. GAO-02-545.
           Washington, D.C.: May 13, 2002.

           National Preparedness: Technologies to Secure Federal Buildings. GAO-
           02-687T. Washington, D.C.: April 25, 2002.

           INS Forensic Document Laboratory: Several Factors Impeded Timeliness
           of Case Processing. GAO-02-410. Washington, D.C.: March 13, 2002.

           Immigration Benefit Fraud: Focused Approach Is Needed to Address
           Problems. GAO-02-66. Washington, D.C.: January 31, 2002.

           Homeland Security: A Risk Management Approach Can Guide
           Preparedness Efforts. GAO-02-208T. Washington, D.C.: October 31, 2001.

           Immigration and Naturalization Service: Overview of Recurring
           Management Challenges. GAO-02-168T. Washington, D.C.: October 17,

           INS Southwest Border Strategy: Resource and Impact Issues Remain
           After Seven Years. GAO-01-842. Washington, D.C.: August 2, 2001.

           Page 16                                GAO-03-546T Border Security Technology