oversight

Terrorist Watchlist: Routinely Assessing Impacts of Agency Actions since the December 25, 2009, Attempted Attack Could Help Inform Future Efforts

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-05-31.

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

             United States Government Accountability Office

GAO          Report to Congressional Requesters




May 2012
             TERRORIST
             WATCHLIST
             Routinely Assessing
             Impacts of Agency
             Actions since the
             December 25, 2009,
             Attempted Attack
             Could Help Inform
             Future Efforts




GAO-12-476
                                              May 2012

                                              TERRORIST WATCHLIST
                                              Routinely Assessing Impacts of Agency Actions since
                                              the December 25, 2009, Attempted Attack Could
                                              Help Inform Future Efforts
Highlights of GAO-12-476, a report to
congressional requesters




Why GAO Did This Study                        What GAO Found
The December 25, 2009, attempted              In July 2010, the federal government finalized guidance to address weaknesses
bombing of Northwest Flight 253               in the watchlist nominations process that were exposed by the December 2009
exposed weaknesses in how the                 attempted attack and to clarify how agencies are to nominate individuals to the
federal government nominated                  watchlist. The nominating agencies GAO contacted expressed concerns about
individuals to the terrorist watchlist and    the increasing volumes of information and related challenges in processing this
gaps in how agencies used the list to         information. Nevertheless, nominating agencies are sending more information for
screen individuals to determine if they       inclusion in the terrorist watchlist after the attempted attack than before the
posed a security threat. In response,         attempted attack. Agencies are also pursuing staffing, technology, and other
the President tasked agencies to take
                                              solutions to address challenges in processing the volumes of information. In
corrective actions. GAO was asked to
                                              2011, an interagency policy committee began an initiative to assess the initial
assess (1) government actions since
the incident to strengthen the
                                              impacts the guidance has had on nominating agencies, but did not provide
nominations process, (2) how the              details on whether such assessments would be routinely conducted in the future.
composition of the watchlist has              Routine assessments could help the government determine the extent to which
changed based on these actions, and           impacts are acceptable and manageable from a policy perspective and inform
(3) how agencies are addressing gaps          future efforts to strengthen the nominations process.
in screening processes. GAO analyzed
government reports, the guidance used         After the attempted attack, federal agencies took steps to reassess the threat
by agencies to nominate individuals to        posed by certain individuals already identified in government databases and
the watchlist, data on the volumes of         either add them to the watchlist or change their watchlist status, which included
nominations from January 2009                 adding individuals to the watchlist’s aviation-related subset lists. For example, the
through May 2011, the composition of          number of U.S. persons (U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents) on the
the list, and the outcomes of screening       subset No Fly List the government uses to deny individuals the boarding of
agency programs. GAO also                     aircraft more than doubled after the attempted attack.
interviewed officials from intelligence,
law enforcement, and screening                Screening agencies are addressing gaps in processes that were exposed by the
agencies to discuss changes to                attempted attack. For example, based on the growth of lists used to screen
policies, guidance, and processes and         aviation passengers and continued implementation of Secure Flight—which
related impacts on agency operations
                                              enabled the Transportation Security Administration to assume direct
and the traveling public, among other
                                              responsibility for conducting watchlist screening from air carriers—more
things. This report is a public version of
the classified report that GAO issued in      individuals have been denied boarding aircraft or subjected to additional physical
December 2011 and omits certain               screening before boarding. Secure Flight has also reduced the likelihood of
information, such as details on the           passengers being misidentified as being on the watchlist and has allowed
nominations guidance and the specific         agencies to use a broader set of watchlist records during screening. U.S.
outcomes of screening processes.              Customs and Border Protection has built upon its practice of evaluating
                                              individuals before they board flights to the United States, resulting in hundreds
What GAO Recommends                           more non-U.S. persons on the watchlist being kept off flights because the agency
GAO recommends that the Assistant to          determined they would likely be deemed inadmissible upon arrival at a U.S.
the President for Homeland Security           airport. The Department of State revoked hundreds of visas shortly after the
and Counterterrorism ensure that the          attempted attack because it determined that the individuals could present an
outcomes and impacts of agencies’             immediate threat to the United States. These actions are intended to enhance
actions to strengthen nominations and         homeland security, but have also impacted agency resources and the traveling
screening processes are routinely             public. An interagency policy committee is also assessing the outcomes and
assessed. Technical comments were             impacts of these actions, but it did not provide details on this effort. Routine
provided and incorporated.                    assessments could help decision makers and Congress determine if the watchlist
                                              is achieving its intended outcomes and help information future efforts.
View GAO-12-476. For more information,
contact Eileen Larence at (202) 512-6510 or
larenceej@gao.gov.

                                                                                       United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                          1
               Background                                                                       6
               2010 Guidance Addresses Weaknesses in Nominations Process, but
                 Agencies Face Challenges in Managing Increased Volumes of
                 Information                                                                  10
               The Number of Individuals on the Watchlist and Aviation-Related
                 Subsets Increased after the Attempted Attack                                 14
               Screening Agencies Are Addressing Vulnerabilities Exposed by the
                 Attempted Attack, but Assessing Their Impacts Could Help
                 Inform Future Efforts                                                        15
               Conclusions                                                                    27
               Recommendations for Executive Action                                           29
               Agency Comments                                                                29

Appendix I     Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                             32



Appendix II    Overview of the Watchlist Nominations Process                                  36



Appendix III   Transportation Security Administration’s Secure Flight Program and
               Related Activities                                                             41



Appendix IV    Information on Redress Process for Individuals Experiencing
               Difficulties during Travel-Related Screening and                               45



Appendix V     GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                          47



Figures
               Figure 1: Summary of Information on Mr. Abdulmutallab Contained
                        in U.S. Government Holdings before the December 2009
                        Attempted Attack                                                       9
               Figure 2: Overview of the Watchlist Nominations Process                        39




               Page i           GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
Abbreviations

CBP       U.S. Customs and Border Protection
CIA       Central Intelligence Agency
DHS       Department of Homeland Security
FBI       Federal Bureau of Investigation
NCTC      National Counterterrorism Center
State     U.S. Department of State
TIDE      Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment
TRIP      Traveler Redress Inquiry Program
TSA       Transportation Security Administration
TSC       Terrorist Screening Center
TSDB      Terrorist Screening Database



This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the
United States. The published product may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety
without further permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain
copyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may be
necessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately.




Page ii               GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   May 31, 2012

                                   Congressional Requesters

                                   The attempt on December 25, 2009, to detonate a concealed explosive
                                   on board a U.S.-bound aircraft raised questions as to why warnings about
                                   the attempted bomber did not result in the U.S. government including him
                                   on its consolidated terrorist watchlist. The Terrorist Screening Center
                                   (TSC)—administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)—is
                                   responsible for maintaining this list of known or suspected terrorists and
                                   making records from the watchlist database available as appropriate to
                                   agencies that screen individuals for possible threats. For instance,
                                   subsets of the watchlist are used by the Transportation Security
                                   Administration (TSA) to screen individuals before they board an aircraft,
                                   by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to inspect or vet
                                   individuals traveling to and from the United States, and by the
                                   Department of State (State) to screen visa applicants.

                                   The Executive Office of the President’s review of the attempted attack
                                   found that the U.S. government had sufficient information to have
                                   uncovered and potentially disrupted the attack, but shortcomings in the
                                   watchlisting process prevented the attempted bomber—Umar Farouk
                                   Abdulmutallab—from being nominated for inclusion on the watchlist. 1
                                   Thus, screening agencies that could have identified him as a potential
                                   threat were unable to identify him and take action. The Executive Office of
                                   the President tasked departments and agencies to undertake a number of
                                   corrective actions to help ensure that known or suspected terrorists are
                                   identified and nominated to the watchlist and that agencies can use the
                                   list to screen individuals for potential links to terrorism. 2



                                   1
                                    Executive Office of the President, Summary of the White House Review of the December
                                   25, 2009, Attempted Terrorist Attack (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 7, 2010).
                                   2
                                    Executive Office of the President, Memorandum on Attempted Terrorist Attack on
                                   December 25, 2009: Intelligence, Screening, and Watchlisting System Corrective Actions
                                   (Washington, D.C., Jan. 7, 2010). Terrorism and terrorist activities are, in general, acts
                                   that (1) involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure that
                                   may be a violation of U.S. law and (2) appear intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian
                                   population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or affect the
                                   conduct of government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, or hostage taking.
                                   This includes activities that facilitate or support terrorism and terrorist activities.




                                   Page 1                 GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
We have been monitoring the government’s efforts to improve its ability to
share terrorism-related information to further homeland security. In
January 2005, we designated information sharing a high-risk area
because the federal government faced formidable challenges in analyzing
and disseminating this information in a timely, accurate, and useful
manner. The federal government’s sharing of terrorism-related
information remained a high-risk area in our biennial update that we
issued in February 2011. 3 Also, in October 2007, we reported on how the
watchlist is created and maintained and how federal, state, and local
security partners use the list to screen individuals for potential threats to
the homeland. 4 We identified potential vulnerabilities—including ones
created because agencies were not screening against all watchlist
records—and concluded that an up-to-date strategy could help the
government optimize use of the watchlist. We made recommendations to
enhance the effectiveness of the watchlisting and screening processes,
which agencies implemented or have actions under way to address.
Further, after the attempted attack, we reported that weighing and
responding to the potential impacts that changes to the criteria used to
nominate individuals to the terrorist watchlist would have on the traveling
public will be an important consideration in determining what changes
may be needed. 5

In response to your request, we issued a classified report in December
2011 that addressed the following questions:

•   What actions has the federal government taken since the December
    25, 2009, attempted attack to strengthen the watchlist nominations
    process, and to what extent are departments and agencies
    experiencing challenges implementing these actions and assessing
    impacts of the actions they have taken?
•   How did the composition of the watchlist change as a result of actions
    taken by departments and agencies after the attempted attack?



3
GAO, High-Risk Series: An Update, GAO-11-278 (Washington, D.C.: February 2011).
4
 GAO, Terrorist Watch List Screening: Opportunities Exist to Enhance Management
Oversight, Reduce Vulnerabilities in Agency Screening Processes, and Expand Use of the
List, GAO-08-110 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 11, 2007).
5
 GAO, Homeland Security: Better Use of Terrorist Watchlist Information and
Improvements in Deployment of Passenger Screening Checkpoint Technologies Could
Further Strengthen Security, GAO-10-401T (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 27, 2010).




Page 2               GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
•   How are screening agencies addressing vulnerabilities exposed by
    the attempted attack, what have been the outcomes of related
    screening since the incident, and to what extent are federal agencies
    assessing the impacts of this screening?
This report is a public version of the classified report that we provided to
you. The various departments and agencies we reviewed deemed some
of the information in the restricted report as classified or sensitive (e.g.,
Sensitive Security Information or For Official Use Only), which must be
protected from public disclosure. Therefore, this report omits certain
information associated with vulnerabilities in watchlisting and screening
processes that were exposed by the December 25, 2009, attempted
attack and government actions to address these vulnerabilities. This
report also omits key details regarding (1) certain policies and procedures
associated with the development and use of the terrorist watchlist and (2)
specific outcomes of encounters with individuals who were positively
matched to the watchlist. Although the information provided in this report
is more limited in scope, it addresses the same questions as the
restricted report. Also, the overall methodology used for both reports is
the same.

To determine federal government actions to strengthen the watchlist
nominations process and related challenges, we analyzed postattack
government reports issued by the Executive Office of the President and
the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. 6 We also compared the
July 2010 Watchlisting Guidance—issued by the TSC to standardize
watchlisting policies and processes—to the 2009 watchlisting protocol
(the most recent operational policy before the December 2009 attempted
attack) to identify changes that were intended to strengthen agencies’
abilities to nominate known or suspected terrorist to the watchlist. 7 To
help us determine how postattack changes in the watchlisting guidance
have affected the volume of nominations and any resulting impacts, we
obtained data for the period January 2009 through May 2011 from seven




6
 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Unclassified Summary of the Committee
Report on the Attempted Terrorist Attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 (Washington,
D.C.: May 18, 2010).
7
TSC issued versions of the watchlisting protocol in 2008 and 2009, and it issued the
Watchlisting Guidance in 2010.




Page 3                GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
federal entities involved in the nominations process. 8 Specifically, we
obtained data from five entities that nominate individuals for inclusion on
the terrorist watchlist (nominating agencies). We also obtained
information from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), an entity
that processes these nominations and submits them to TSC, as does the
FBI, and TSC. 9 Further, we analyzed documentation on the watchlisting
nominations process and interviewed agency officials—including the
Director of TSC, NCTC’s Deputy Director for Terrorist Identities, and
agency watchlisting program officials—to discuss nomination processes,
how changes instituted as a result of the July 2010 Watchlisting Guidance
have impacted agencies, and related challenges.

To identify how the composition of the watchlist has changed since the
December 2009 attempted attack, we analyzed agency documents and
TSC data for 2009 and 2010 on the number of individuals on the terrorist
watchlist and its subset No Fly and Selectee lists, and on the number of
U.S. persons (U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents) on these
lists. 10 We also analyzed the July 2010 Watchlisting Guidance and
interviewed the TSC Director and other center officials to obtain their
perspectives on the reasons for changes in the size and composition of
the watchlist and subset lists.

To identify how screening and law enforcement agencies are addressing
vulnerabilities exposed by the attempted attack, the outcomes and
impacts of agency actions, and the extent to which agencies are
assessing the outcomes and impacts, we focused on screening,
inspection, and vetting conducted by the Department of Homeland
Security’s (DHS) TSA and CBP, and State. These are the primary
agencies that use the watchlist to screen and vet individuals traveling to



8
 In general, our work focused on the federal entities that the Executive Office of the
President tasked to take corrective actions in response to the December 2009 attempted
attack (see app. I).
9
 NCTC—within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence—serves as the primary
organization in the U.S. government for, among other things, analyzing and integrating all
intelligence pertaining to terrorism and counterterrorism, except for intelligence pertaining
exclusively to domestic terrorists and domestic counterterrorism. See 50 U.S.C. §
404o(d)(1).
10
  In general, individuals on the No Fly List are to be precluded from boarding an aircraft
and individuals on the Selectee List are to receive additional screening prior to boarding
an aircraft.




Page 4                 GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
the United States. We obtained data—generally for 2009 and 2010 but in
some cases through May 2011—on how often these agencies have
encountered individuals on the watchlist and the outcomes of these
encounters to help determine what impact changes in agency screening
or vetting procedures have had on the traveling public and agency
operations, among other things. 11 We also interviewed officials from each
agency to discuss how their screening and vetting procedures have
changed since the attempted attack and how they are assessing the
impacts of the changes. Further, to better understand the impacts of
watchlist screening on the traveling public, we analyzed data for 2009 and
2010 on individuals who had inquiries or sought resolution regarding
difficulties they experienced during their travel screening and interviewed
DHS officials who are responsible for providing redress for these
individuals.

To assess the reliability of data on watchlist nominations, number of
watchlist records, and screening outcomes, we questioned
knowledgeable officials about the data and the systems that produced the
data, reviewed relevant documentation, examined data for obvious errors,
and (when possible) corroborated the data among the different agencies.
We determined that the data were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of
this report. We conducted this performance audit from February 2010 to
May 2012 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
standards. 12 Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit
to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis
for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We
believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. Appendix I
contains more details about our objectives, scope, and methodology.




11
  As used in this report, the term encounter refers to an event in which an individual is
identified to be a positive match to an individual on the terrorist watchlist.
12
  We issued a classified report on this work in December 2011.




Page 5                 GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
Background
Overview of the              Pursuant to Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6, TSC was
Watchlisting and Screening   established to create and maintain the U.S. government’s consolidated
Processes                    watchlist—the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB)—and to provide for
                             the use of watchlist records during security-related and other screening
                             processes. 13 The watchlisting and screening processes are intended to
                             support the U.S. government’s efforts to combat terrorism by
                             consolidating the terrorist watchlist and providing screening and law
                             enforcement agencies with information to help them respond
                             appropriately during encounters with known or suspected terrorists,
                             among other things.

                             TSC receives watchlist information for inclusion in the TSDB from two
                             sources: NCTC and the FBI. TSC receives the vast majority of its
                             watchlist information from NCTC, which compiles information on known or
                             suspected international terrorists. 14 NCTC receives this information from
                             executive branch departments and agencies—such as the Central
                             Intelligence Agency (CIA), State, and the FBI—and maintains the
                             information in its Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE)
                             database. Agencies that submit nominations to NCTC are to include
                             pertinent derogatory information and any biographic information—such as
                             name and date of birth—needed to establish the identity of individuals on
                             the watchlist. 15 The FBI provides TSC with information about known or




                             13
                               Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-6, Integration and Use of Screening
                             Information (Sept. 16, 2003).
                             14
                               In general, international terrorists engage in terrorist activities that occur primarily
                             outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States or that transcend national boundaries
                             and include individuals in the United States with connections to terrorist activities outside
                             the United States. See, e.g., 18 U.S.C. § 2331 and 22 U.S.C. § 2656f(d) (defining
                             domestic and international terrorism in a criminal context, and international terrorism in a
                             foreign relations context, respectively).
                             15
                                In general, a nominator is a department or agency that has determined that an individual
                             is a known or suspected terrorist and nominates that individual to TIDE and the TSDB
                             based on information that originated with that agency or another agency. An originator is a
                             department or agency that has appropriate subject matter interest and classification
                             authority, and collects terrorism information and disseminates it to other U.S. government
                             entities.




                             Page 6                 GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
suspected domestic terrorists. 16 In general, the FBI nominates individuals
who are subjects of ongoing FBI counterterrorism investigations to TSC
for inclusion in the TSDB, including persons the FBI is preliminarily
investigating to determine if they have links to terrorism.

In accordance with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6—and built
upon through Homeland Security Presidential Directives 11 and 24—the
TSDB is to contain information about individuals known or suspected to
be or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid
of, or related to terrorism and terrorist activities. 17 Nominating agencies,
NCTC, and the FBI apply a reasonable-suspicion standard to determine
which individuals are appropriate for inclusion in the TSDB. 18 NCTC and
the FBI are to consider information from all available sources to
determine if there is a reasonable suspicion of links to terrorism that
warrants a nomination. Once NCTC and the FBI determine that an
individual meets the reasonable-suspicion standard and that minimum
biographic information exists, they extract sensitive but unclassified
information on the individual’s identity—such as name and date of birth—
from their classified databases and send the information to TSC. TSC
reviews these nominations—evaluating the derogatory and biographic
information—to decide whether to add nominated individuals to the
TSDB. Appendix II contains additional information on the watchlist
nominations process.

To support agency screening processes, TSC sends applicable records
from the TSDB to screening and law enforcement agency systems based



16
  According to the FBI’s Domestic Terrorist Operations Unit, domestic terrorists engage in
activities that (1) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal
laws of the United States or of any state; (2) appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce
a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or
affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(3) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States. See 18 U.S.C. §
2331(5).
17
  See Homeland Security Presidential Directive 11, Comprehensive Terrorist-Related
Screening Procedures (Aug. 27, 2004); and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 24,
Biometrics for Identification and Screening to Enhance National Security (June 5, 2008).
18
  In general, to meet the reasonable-suspicion standard, the nominator shall consider the
totality of information available that, taken together with rational inferences from that
information, reasonably warrants a determination that an individual is known or suspected
to be or have been knowingly engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of,
or related to terrorism or terrorist activities.




Page 7                GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
                        on the agency’s mission responsibilities and other factors. For instance,
                        applicable TSC records are provided to TSA for use in screening airline
                        passengers, to CBP for use in inspecting and vetting persons traveling to
                        and from the United States, and to State for use in screening visa
                        applicants. Regarding individuals who are not citizens or nationals of the
                        United States seeking to travel to and lawfully enter the United States,
                        screening and law enforcement agencies rely on immigration laws that
                        specify criteria for determining whether to issue visas to individuals and
                        whether to admit them into the country. 19 In many instances, individuals
                        who are not citizens or nationals of the United States who have engaged
                        in or are likely to engage in terrorist-related activities may be ineligible to
                        receive visas or inadmissible for entry to the United States, or both. 20 U.S.
                        citizens returning to the United States from abroad are not subject to the
                        admissibility requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act,
                        regardless of whether they are subjects of watchlist records. In general,
                        these individuals only need to establish their U.S. citizenship to the
                        satisfaction of the examining officer—by, for example, presenting a U.S.
                        passport—to obtain entry into the United States. 21 U.S. citizens are
                        subjected to inspection by CBP before being permitted to enter and
                        additional actions may be taken, as appropriate.


Weaknesses Exposed by   On December 25, 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year old
the December 2009       Nigerian man, attempted to detonate a concealed explosive device on
Attempted Attack        Northwest Airlines Flight 253 en route from Amsterdam to Detroit as the
                        plane descended into the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.



                        19
                           See, e.g., 8 U.S.C. § 1182 (codifying § 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as
                        amended, which articulates many of the grounds upon which an alien—any person not a
                        citizen or national of the United States—may be determined to be ineligible for a visa or
                        inadmissible to the United States). Before traveling to the United States, an alien who is
                        not a lawful permanent resident must generally obtain a State-issued nonimmigrant visa
                        for temporary stay (such as for business, tourism, or other reasons) or immigrant visa for
                        permanent residence. See 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15) (defining “immigrant”).
                        20
                         See 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3).
                        21
                          See 8 C.F.R. § 235.1(b) and 8 U.S.C. § 1185(b). Lawful permanent residents generally
                        are not regarded as seeking admission to the United States and are not subject to the
                        grounds for inadmissibility unless they fall within certain criteria listed at 8 U.S.C. §
                        1101(a)(13)(C) that describe the circumstances under which an alien lawfully admitted for
                        permanent residence would be regarded as seeking admission. However, lawful
                        permanent residents may be subject to the grounds of removability under 8 U.S.C. §
                        1227(a) after admission.




                        Page 8                GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
According to the Executive Office of the President’s and Senate Select
Committee on Intelligence’s inquiries into events that led to the attempted
attack, failures across the intelligence community—including human
errors, technical problems, and analytic misjudgments—contributed to the
government’s failure to identify the subject as a threat that would qualify
him for inclusion on the terrorist watchlist. The inquiries concluded that
the intelligence community held information on Mr. Abdulmutallab—he
was included in TIDE at the time of the attempted attack—but that it was
fragmentary and ultimately not pieced together to form a coherent picture
of the threat he posed (see fig. 1).

Figure 1: Summary of Information on Mr. Abdulmutallab Contained in U.S.
Government Holdings before the December 2009 Attempted Attack


 •      Mr. Abdulmutallab held an active U.S. visa, issued on June 16, 2008.
 •      U.S. Embassy officers in Abuja, Nigeria, met with Mr. Abdulmutallab’s father on
        November 18, 2009, to discuss his concerns that his son may have come under the
        influence of “Yemeni-based extremists” and had planned to travel to Yemen.
 •      State sent a cable on November 20, 2009, to intelligence and law enforcement
        officials stating concerns about Mr. Abdulmutallab’s potential involvement with
        Yemeni-based extremists, but did not include the source of the information.
 •      Mr. Abdulmutallab was entered into NCTC’s TIDE database on November 23, 2009.
 •      The intelligence community had reports related to Mr. Abdulmutallab, but agencies
        did not search other databases that would have identified additional relevant
        information and intelligence that when pieced together, might have warranted his
        nomination to the terrorist watchlist.


Source: GAO analysis of published government reports and testimonies.



The government inquiries also raised issues regarding how agencies
used and interpreted the 2009 watchlisting protocol for nominating
individuals to the watchlist. For example, according to the Executive
Office of the President’s review, although Mr. Abdulmutallab was entered
into TIDE in November 2009, NCTC determined that the associated
derogatory information did not meet the criteria for nominating him to the
terrorist watchlist. Therefore, NCTC did not send the nomination to TSC.
Also, according to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report,
agencies may have interpreted the 2009 watchlisting protocol’s standards
for placing individuals on the watchlist too rigidly, thereby preventing Mr.
Abdulmutallab from being nominated for inclusion on the watchlist.

Under the auspices of the Information Sharing and Access Interagency
Policy Committee, TSC—in coordination with watchlisting and screening
agencies—reviewed the 2009 watchlisting protocol and made


Page 9                         GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
                          recommendations regarding whether adjustments to the protocol were
                          warranted. 22 The Deputies Committee—a senior interagency forum that
                          considers policy issues affecting national security—initially approved new
                          watchlisting guidance for issuance to the watchlisting and screening
                          communities in May 2010. After a multiagency classification review was
                          completed, the Deputies Committee approved a final version of the
                          Watchlisting Guidance in July 2010, which TSC issued to the watchlisting
                          and screening communities. 23



2010 Guidance
Addresses
Weaknesses in
Nominations Process,
but Agencies Face
Challenges in
Managing Increased
Volumes of
Information

Changes to Watchlisting   The July 2010 Watchlisting Guidance includes changes that were
Guidance and Impacts on   intended to address weaknesses in the nominations process that were
Agencies                  exposed by the December 2009 attempted attack and to clarify how
                          agencies are to nominate individuals to the watchlist. 24 Since the
                          guidance was approved, nominating agencies have expressed concerns


                          22
                            The Interagency Policy Committees are the main day-to-day forums for interagency
                          coordination of national security policy, providing policy analysis and ensuring timely
                          responses to decisions made by the President. See Presidential Policy Directive 1,
                          Organization of the National Security Council System (Feb. 13, 2009).
                          23
                            According to the TSC Director’s memorandum that was released with the revised
                          guidance, although the Deputies Committee officially approved the guidance in May 2010,
                          agencies had been implementing certain modifications prior to this date.
                          24
                            Details regarding information contained in the July 2010 Watchlisting Guidance were
                          deleted from this report because agencies considered them to be Sensitive Security
                          Information.




                          Page 10               GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
about the increasing volumes of information and related challenges in
processing this information and noted that the long-term impacts of the
revisions may not be known for some time. For example, the watchlisting
unit director from one agency reported that the agency is experiencing an
increasing intake of information from its sources, which has impacted its
analysts’ reviews of this information. Also, officials from some agencies
reported that at times they have had to temporarily add personnel to
review and process the large volumes of information.

Data from the nominating agencies we contacted show that the agencies
sent more nominations-related information to NCTC after the attempted
attack than before the attack. According to NCTC officials, the center
experienced receiving an increase in nominations beginning in February
2010. The officials noted that in May 2010, the volume of incoming
nominations exceeded NCTC’s ability to process it, resulting in a backlog.
NCTC has applied additional resources—both staffing and
technological—to address its backlog. As a result, in October 2011,
NCTC officials noted that the center had virtually eliminated its backlog.
Moreover, unless TSC has the ability to process the information it
receives, it cannot add information to the TSDB for use by screening and
law enforcement agencies. 25 Overall, the volume of nominations TSC is
receiving from the FBI and NCTC has generally increased since the
attempted attack. According to TSC officials, the center has avoided
backlogs by employing a variety of strategies to address its workload,
including management of personnel resources and use of more advanced
technology.

Since the December 25, 2009, attempted attack, agencies involved in the
watchlist nominations process have pursued staffing, technology, working
groups, and other solutions to strengthen the process and manage
increasing volumes of information. Specifically, officials from four of the
seven agencies we contacted reported that they are in the process of
developing and implementing certain technological solutions to address
watchlisting issues. For example, NCTC, in consultation with other
members of the intelligence community, reported that it is developing
information technology tools to strengthen analysts’ abilities to identify
potential links to terrorism. The government has also created interagency



25
  We discuss the impacts that increasing nominations could have on screening agencies
later in this report.




Page 11              GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
                          working groups to address watchlist-related issues. Further, NCTC
                          reported that training programs have been developed and administered to
                          its watchlisting analysts, as well as nominating and screening agency
                          personnel.

                          Our review of the July 2010 Watchlisting Guidance and discussions with
                          relevant agency officials indicated that in drafting the guidance, the
                          watchlist community emphasized quality-assurance mechanisms as well
                          as civil rights and civil liberties protections that should be considered
                          when nominating individuals.


Assessing Impacts of      While agencies are pursuing actions to strengthen the watchlisting
Guidance Could Help       process, no single entity is accountable for routinely assessing the overall
Ensure That Challenges    impacts the July 2010 Watchlisting Guidance is having on the watchlisting
                          community, the extent to which these impacts are acceptable and
Are Resolved and Inform   manageable from a policy perspective, and if the impacts indicate the
Future Efforts to         need for any adjustments. Further, no entity is routinely collecting and
Strengthen the            analyzing data needed to conduct such governmentwide assessments
Watchlisting Process      over time. In general, officials from the nominating agencies we contacted
                          and from NCTC and TSC said that they participated in developing the
                          July 2010 Watchlisting Guidance and agreed with the changes, but noted
                          that they did not know at the time how changes implemented through the
                          2010 guidance would impact them. Routinely assessing these impacts
                          could help agencies address any challenges they are having in
                          implementing the watchlisting guidance.

                          Agencies involved in the nominations process are taking actions to
                          address challenges related to implementing the 2010 guidance. For
                          example, officials from the Information Sharing and Access Interagency
                          Policy Committee’s Subcommittee on Watchlisting noted that
                          departments and agencies within the watchlisting community are
                          responsible for assessing the impacts of their individual watchlisting
                          efforts and for bringing issues, as needed, to the subcommittee. 26 They
                          explained that agencies react to and address issues and challenges as
                          they arise. However, this approach has not allowed them to proactively
                          and systematically assess the watchlisting process and identify emerging


                          26
                            The Subcommittee on Watchlisting is attended by members of the watchlist community
                          and provides an interagency forum to which agencies can bring watchlist-related issues
                          for discussion and resolution.




                          Page 12              GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
issues; achieve consensus on solutions to potential challenges before
they manifest themselves; and determine if adjustments to the
watchlisting guidance are needed.

Because of the collaborative nature of the watchlisting process, any
assessment of impacts must be an interagency effort. However, none of
the interagency entities we contacted were routinely performing these
assessment functions. In February 2011, officials from the Subcommittee
on Watchlisting noted that the subcommittee was preparing a report on
watchlisting efforts since the December 2009 attempted attack and had
requested that subcommittee members provide input. At that time, the
subcommittee officials noted that the Information Sharing and Access
Interagency Policy Committee did not plan to conduct routine
assessments of the watchlisting processes. In August 2011, a
representative of the National Security Staff informed us that the
Information Sharing and Access Interagency Policy Committee recently
began performing an assessment function related to the July 2010
Watchlisting Guidance. The representative noted that the depth and
frequency of specific reviews will vary as necessary and appropriate. The
staff did not provide us details on these efforts, so we could not determine
to what extent the assessments will be routine or involve collecting and
analyzing data needed to conduct such assessments over time.

Since we found no single entity that is responsible and accountable for
routinely assessing the overall impacts the 2010 guidance is having on
the watchlisting community—and collecting the data needed to conduct
such assessments—the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security
and Counterterrorism may be best positioned to ensure that
governmentwide assessments are conducted. The President tasked this
individual to be responsible and accountable for ensuring that agencies
carry out actions to strengthen the watchlisting process after the
December 2009 attempted attack. Thus, it likewise follows that this
individual could be responsible and accountable for ensuring that the
impacts from these actions are routinely assessed and that the results of
the assessments are used to inform future watchlisting changes.

According to Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government,
ongoing monitoring of programs and activities should occur during the




Page 13           GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
                      course of normal operations. 27 Working collaboratively to ensure that
                      appropriate agencies routinely evaluate or assess the impact of the 2010
                      guidance on the watchlisting community could help decision makers
                      determine if the guidance is achieving its intended outcomes or needs
                      any adjustments, and help inform future efforts to strengthen the
                      watchlisting process. Such assessments could also help the Information
                      Sharing and Access Interagency Policy Committee and the watchlisting
                      community understand longer-term impacts of changes to the watchlisting
                      guidance, such as how increasing volumes of information are creating
                      resource demands. Finally, such assessments could help to improve
                      transparency and provide an accurate accounting to the Executive Office
                      of the President and other stakeholders, including Congress, for the
                      resources invested in the watchlisting process.


                      Immediately after the December 2009 attempted attack, federal agencies
The Number of         took steps that resulted in an increase in the number of individuals in the
Individuals on the    TSDB and its aviation-related subsets—the No Fly and Selectee lists—
                      based on new intelligence and threat information. Specifically, in the
Watchlist and         months following the attempted attack, agencies added these individuals
Aviation-Related      to the TSDB from TIDE or from the TSDB to the No Fly or Selectee lists.
                      Also, upon completion of this initiative, the number of U.S. persons on the
Subsets Increased     No Fly List more than doubled and the number of U.S. persons on the
after the Attempted   Selectee List increased by about 10 percent. According to TSC data, the
Attack                number of individuals on the No Fly List generally continued to increase
                      during the remainder of 2010, while the number of individuals on the
                      Selectee List remained relatively constant.

                      To carry out these upgrades, TSC and NCTC—at the direction of the
                      Deputies Committee and in consultation with other intelligence
                      agencies—reviewed available intelligence and threat information that
                      existed on certain individuals. At the same time, TSC worked with NCTC
                      and intelligence community agencies to ensure that (1) the information
                      that supported changing the watchlist status of the individuals was as
                      complete and accurate as possible and (2) the individuals were placed in




                      27
                        GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1
                      (Washington, D.C.: November 1999).




                      Page 14             GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
                             the TSDB and, when applicable, on the No Fly or Selectee lists, in
                             accordance with standards and criteria for inclusion on these lists. 28


                             Agencies that screen individuals against TSDB records are addressing
Screening Agencies           vulnerabilities and gaps in processes that were exposed by the December
Are Addressing               2009 attempted attack to enhance homeland security. For example, TSA
                             actions have resulted in more individuals being denied boarding aircraft or
Vulnerabilities              subjected to enhanced screening before boarding. The number of U.S.
Exposed by the               persons (U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents) denied boarding
                             has also increased and, for such persons abroad, required the
Attempted Attack, but        government to develop procedures to facilitate their return. TSA is also
Assessing Their              screening airline passengers against additional TSDB records to mitigate
Impacts Could Help           risks. CBP has implemented a program to build upon its practice of
                             evaluating the risk posed by individuals attempting to enter the United
Inform Future Efforts        States before they board flights bound for the United States. As a result,
                             air carriers have permitted fewer individuals in the TSDB to board such
                             flights, particularly nonimmigrant aliens. State took actions to revoke
                             hundreds of U.S. visas immediately after the attempted attack because it
                             determined that the individuals could present an immediate threat. These
                             and other agency actions are intended to enhance homeland security, but
                             no entity is routinely assessing governmentwide issues, such as how the
                             changes have impacted agency resources and the traveling public,
                             whether watchlist screening is achieving intended results, or if
                             adjustments to agency programs or the watchlisting guidance are
                             needed.


TSA Has Encountered
More Individuals on the No
Fly and Selectee Lists and
Is Screening against More
Watchlist Records
No Fly and Selectee List     After the attempted attack, TSA continued implementation of the Secure
Encounters                   Flight program, which enabled TSA to assume direct responsibility for


                             28
                               Certain details regarding government actions to add individuals to the TSDB and its
                             aviation-related subsets after the December 2009 attempted attack and the number of
                             individuals added were deleted from this report because they are considered to be
                             Sensitive Security Information.




                             Page 15               GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
determining if individuals are matches to the No Fly or Selectee lists from
air carriers. Secure Flight requires that air carriers collect—and that
passengers provide—full name and date-of-birth and gender information,
thereby improving TSA’s ability to correctly determine whether individuals
are on these lists. 29 Before Secure Flight, air carriers were not required to
collect date-of-birth and gender information, and each airline conducted
watchlist matching differently with varying effectiveness. 30 According to
TSA, the increase in individuals added to the No Fly and Selectee lists,
combined with the implementation of Secure Flight, resulted in an
increase in the number of times airlines encountered individuals on these
lists. TSA data show that the encounters involved both domestic flights
(flights to and from locations within the United States) and international
flights (flights to or from the United States or over U.S. air space).

Since the December 2009 attempted attack and subsequent increase in
the number of U.S. persons nominated to and placed on the No Fly List,
there have been instances when U.S. persons abroad have been unable
to board an aircraft bound for the United States. Any individual—
regardless of nationality—can be prohibited from boarding an aircraft if
the threat represented by the individual meets the criteria for inclusion on
the No Fly List. In general, however, U.S. citizens are permitted to enter
the United States at a U.S. port of entry if they prove to the satisfaction of
a CBP officer that they are in fact U.S. citizens. 31 Lawful permanent
residents, who in limited circumstances independent of the No Fly List
may be rendered an applicant for admission, are usually entitled to
removal proceedings prior to having their status as a lawful permanent
resident terminated for immigration purposes. 32




29
  Air carriers must also request that passengers provide a redress number, if available,
though passengers are not required to provide this information. See 49 C.F.R. §
1560.101. In general, the term redress refers to an agency’s complaint resolution process
whereby individuals may seek resolution of their concerns about an agency action.
30
  See GAO, Aviation Security: TSA Is Enhancing Its Oversight of Air Carrier Efforts to
Identify Passengers on the No Fly and Selectee Lists, but Expects Ultimate Solution to Be
Implementation of Secure Flight, GAO-08-992 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 9, 2008).
31
 See 8 U.S.C. § 1185(b); 8 C.F.R. § 235.1(b).
32
 See 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101(a)(13)(C), 1229a.




Page 16               GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
TSA Is Screening Airline        In our October 2007 watchlist report, we recommended that DHS assess
Passengers against Additional   to what extent security risks exist by not screening against more watchlist
Watchlist Records               records and what actions, if any, should be taken in response. 33 DHS
                                generally agreed with our recommendation but noted that increasing the
                                number of records that air carriers used to screen passengers would
                                expand the number of misidentifications to unjustifiable proportions
                                without a measurable increase in security. In general, misidentifications
                                occur when a passenger’s name is identical or similar to a name in the
                                TSDB but the passenger is not the individual on the watchlist. Since then,
                                TSA assumed direct responsibility for this screening function through
                                implementation of the Secure Flight program for all flights traveling to,
                                from, or within the United States. 34 According to TSA, Secure Flight’s full
                                assumption of this function from air carriers and its use of more
                                biographic data for screening have improved watchlist matching. This
                                includes TSA’s ability to correctly match passenger data against TSDB
                                records to confirm if individuals match someone on the watchlist and
                                reduce the number of misidentifications. 35 Appendix III contains additional
                                information on how Secure Flight has reduced the likelihood of
                                passengers being misidentified as being on the watchlist and related
                                inconveniences.

                                TSA’s actions discussed below fully respond to the recommendation we
                                made in our October 2007 report. Specifically, TSA has implemented
                                Secure Flight such that as circumstances warrant, it may expand the
                                scope of its screening beyond the No Fly and Selectee lists to the entire
                                TSDB. 36 According to the program’s final rule, in general, Secure Flight is
                                to compare passenger information only to the No Fly and Selectee lists
                                because, during normal security circumstances, screening against these
                                components of the TSDB will be satisfactory to counter the security
                                threat. However, the rule also provides that TSA may use the larger set of


                                33
                                  GAO-08-110.
                                34
                                  Secure Flight also performs this screening function for covered airline flights that travel
                                over the United States and “point-to-point” international flights operated by covered U.S.-
                                based airlines.
                                35
                                  See GAO, Aviation Security: TSA Has Completed Key Activities Associated with
                                Implementing Secure Flight, but Additional Actions Are Needed to Mitigate Risks,
                                GAO-09-292 (Washington, D.C.: May 13, 2009).
                                36
                                  See generally Secure Flight Program; Final Rule, 73 Fed. Reg. 64,018 (Oct. 28, 2008)
                                (codified at 49 C.F.R. pt. 1560).




                                Page 17                GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
“watch lists” maintained by the federal government when warranted by
security considerations, such as if TSA learns that flights on a particular
route may be subject to increased security risk.

Also, after the attempted bombing in December 2009, DHS proposed and
the Deputies Committee approved the Secure Flight program’s expanded
use of TSDB records on a routine basis to screen passengers before they
board flights. In April 2011, TSA completed the transition of the Secure
Flight program to conduct watchlist matching against this greater subset
of TSDB records and notify air carriers that those passengers who are
determined to be a match should be designated for enhanced screening
prior to boarding a flight. According to TSA, the impact on screening
operations has been minimal given the relatively low volume of matches
against these additional records each day.

TSA noted that the entire TSDB is not used for screening since matching
passenger data against TSDB records that contain only partial data could
result in a significant increase in the number of passengers who are
misidentified as being on the watchlist and potentially cause unwarranted
delay or inconvenience to travelers. TSA also noted that as with potential
misidentifications to the No Fly and Selectee lists, passengers who feel
that they have been incorrectly delayed or inconvenienced can apply for
redress through the DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS
TRIP). 37 DHS noted that TSA regularly monitors the Secure Flight
program and processes and makes adjustments as needed.

In fiscal year 2011, TSA reprogrammed $15.9 million into Secure Flight to
begin screening against the additional TSDB records. TSA’s fiscal year
2012 budget request proposed funding to make screening against the
additional records permanent. According to TSA, for fiscal year 2012,
Secure Flight requested an increase of $8.9 million and 38 full-time
personnel to continue supporting this expanded screening effort.
According to TSA, the funding will be used for information technology
enhancements that will be required to implement this expanded screening
and will allow TSA to handle the increased workload.




37
  DHS TRIP is a single point of contact for individuals who have inquiries or seek
resolution regarding difficulties they experienced during their travel screening. Additional
information on DHS TRIP is discussed in app. VI.




Page 18                GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
CBP Expansion of                 For individuals traveling by air to the United States, CBP has established
PreDeparture Vetting Has         programs whereby it assesses individuals before they board an aircraft to
Kept Hundreds More               determine whether it is likely they will be found inadmissible at a port of
                                 entry. The following sections discuss how CBP’s Pre-Departure Targeting
Aliens in the TSDB off           Program and Immigration Advisory Program handle the subset of
Airplanes Bound for the          travelers who are in the TSDB. 38 Other high-risk and improperly
United States                    documented passengers handled by these programs include passengers
                                 who have criminal histories; have had their visas revoked; are in
                                 possession of fraudulent, lost, or stolen passports; or otherwise appear to
                                 be inadmissible.

Pre-Departure Program            In response to the attempted attack in December 2009, and as part of its
Expanded CBP Vetting to          border and immigration security mission, CBP implemented the Pre-
Cover All Airports with Direct   Departure Targeting Program in January 2010 to build upon its process of
Flights to the United States     assessing if individuals would likely be found inadmissible at a port of
                                 entry before they board an aircraft to cover all airports worldwide with
                                 direct flights to the United States. Before the attempted attack, CBP
                                 assessed individuals who were departing from airports that had CBP
                                 Immigration Advisory Program officers on site. At airports without such a
                                 program, passengers in the TSDB but not on the No Fly List generally
                                 were allowed to board flights and travel to U.S. airports. Upon arrival at a
                                 U.S. port of entry, CBP would inspect the passengers and determine their
                                 admissibility. CBP continues to assess passengers through the
                                 Immigration Advisory Program for flights departing from airports that have
                                 a program presence.

                                 For both the Pre-Departure Targeting Program and the Immigration
                                 Advisory Program, if CBP determines that a passenger would likely be
                                 deemed inadmissible upon arrival at a U.S. airport, it recommends that
                                 the air carrier not board that passenger (that is, it makes a no board
                                 recommendation). CBP generally makes these no board
                                 recommendations based on provisions for admissibility found in the
                                 Immigration and Nationality Act. 39 U.S. citizens are generally not subject


                                 38
                                   CBP’s Pre-Departure Targeting Program was designed specifically for vetting aviation
                                 passengers. The Immigration Advisory Program was established in 2004 to place trained
                                 CBP officers at certain foreign airports to assist with passenger vetting, such as
                                 interviewing high-risk or improperly documented passengers and evaluating the
                                 authenticity of travel documents prior to a passenger’s departure.
                                 39
                                   See, e.g., 8 U.S.C. § 1182 (codifying section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act,
                                 as amended, and establishing conditions under which an alien—any person not a citizen
                                 or national of the United States—may be deemed inadmissible to the United States).




                                 Page 19               GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
to these recommendations since they are generally permitted to enter the
United States at a U.S. port of entry if they prove to the satisfaction of a
CBP officer that they are in fact U.S. citizens. CBP may also decide to not
issue such recommendations for aliens in the TSDB if, for example (1)
CBP officers determine that, based on a review of all available
information, the individual is not likely to be denied admission to the
United States, or (2) the individual was granted a waiver of inadmissibility
by DHS, if such a waiver is available. 40

For flights departing from airports without an Immigration Advisory
Program officer on site, CBP is leveraging the capabilities of its officers
within its Regional Carrier Liaison Groups to issue no board
recommendations to air carriers. These groups were established in 2006
to assist air carriers with U.S. entry-related matters—with a primary focus
on verifying the authenticity of travel documents—and to work directly
with commercial air carriers on security-related matters. Regional Carrier
Liaison Group staff who are located in the United States handle Pre-
Departure Targeting Program no board recommendations to air carriers
remotely by delivering the recommendations via phone, fax, or e-mail. 41
CBP policy instructs staff to give no board recommendations priority over
other duties, given the time and security sensitivities involved.

Upon receiving a no board recommendation from CBP for a passenger,
air carriers make the ultimate decision whether to deny boarding or to
transport the individual to the United States. According to CBP officials,
air carriers almost always follow no board recommendations because (1)
they do not want to transport high-risk individuals and (2) such alien
passengers will almost always be found inadmissible at the U.S. port of
entry. In this case, the air carrier is responsible for ensuring space for
such an individual on the next available flight to the originating airport. 42 In
addition, the air carrier could be fined for transporting an alien to the


40
  See 8 U.S.C. § 1182(d) (governing the temporary admission of aliens otherwise deemed
inadmissible). See also 8 C.F.R. §§ 212.4, 212.7.
41
  There are three Regional Carrier Liaison Groups, which are located in Honolulu, Hawaii;
Miami, Florida; and New York City, New York. Each of the three locations has authority
over a region of the world, with the Honolulu location covering U.S.-bound flights from
Asia and the Pacific; the New York City location covering flights from Africa, Europe, and
the Middle East; and the Miami location covering flights from Latin America and the
Caribbean.
42
 See 8 U.S.C. § 1231(c), (d).




Page 20               GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
                              United States who does not have a valid passport and visa, if a visa is
                              required. 43 When CBP does not recommend that an individual in the
                              TSDB be denied boarding and the passenger boards a flight bound for
                              the United States, CBP inspects the passenger upon arrival at a U.S.
                              airport. For aliens seeking admission to the United States, determinations
                              on admissibility are generally made by CBP officers during this inspection
                              in accordance with applicable provisions of the Immigration and
                              Nationality Act. In general, aliens who are deemed inadmissible are
                              detained by DHS until the individual can board a return flight home.

CBP Made Hundreds More No     Since the attempted attack, CBP predeparture vetting programs—the
Board Recommendations after   Pre-Departure Targeting Program and the Immigration Advisory
the Attempted Attack          Program—have resulted in hundreds more aliens being kept off flights
                              bound for the United States because CBP determined that they likely
                              would be deemed inadmissible upon arrival at a U.S. airport and made
                              corresponding no board recommendations to air carriers. In addition to
                              the increase in no board recommendations that resulted from
                              implementing the Pre-Departure Targeting Program in January 2010, the
                              increase during 2010 was in response to the new threats made evident by
                              the attempted attack, according to CBP officials. CBP data also show that
                              there have been instances when individuals have boarded flights bound
                              for the United States and arrived at U.S. airports. According to CBP
                              officials, the vast majority of these cases involved either (1) U.S. citizens
                              and lawful permanent residents who generally may enter the United
                              States, and therefore, CBP generally does not recommend that air
                              carriers not board these passengers, or (2) aliens in the TSDB who were
                              deemed inadmissible but were granted temporary admission into the
                              United States under certain circumstances, such as DHS granting a
                              waiver of inadmissibility. 44

                              At the time of our review, CBP did not have readily available data on how
                              often aliens in the TSDB boarded flights bound for the United States—



                              43
                               See 8 U.S.C. § 1323; 8 C.F.R. pt. 273.
                              44
                                See, e.g., 8 U.S.C. § 1182(d)(3)(B) (authorizing the Secretary of Homeland Security, in
                              certain circumstances, and after consultation with the Attorney General and Secretary of
                              State, to grant temporary admission to an alien otherwise deemed inadmissible thereby, in
                              effect, waiving a determination of inadmissibility). See also, e.g., 8 U.S.C. § 1182(d)(5)
                              (authorizing the Attorney General to parole—that is, grant temporary permission to enter
                              and be present in the United States—any alien into the United States on a case-by-case
                              basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit).




                              Page 21               GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
information that could help CBP assess how its predeparture programs
are working and provide transparency over program results, among other
things. According to CBP officials, the agency was working on adding
data fields to CBP systems to capture more information related to these
programs. The officials noted that these changes will allow CBP to break
down and retrieve data by U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and
aliens, and that related reports will be produced. At our request, CBP
conducted a manual review of data it compiled on the results of its
processing of passengers at U.S. airports from April 2010 through
September 2010. 45 During this period, CBP data show that there were
instances when aliens in the TSDB boarded flights bound for the United
States and were admitted into the country. These occurrences are in
addition to instances where aliens in the TSDB were able to board flights
bound for and enter the United States because they had been granted
admission to the country on a temporary basis under certain
circumstances, such as by DHS granting a waiver of inadmissibility.
According to CBP officials, for each of these occurrences, CBP officers
determined—based on a review of all available and relevant
information—that the derogatory information on the individual was not
sufficient to render that person inadmissible under the Immigration and
Nationality Act.

CBP officials stated that the Pre-Departure Targeting Program increased
the workload for Regional Carrier Liaison Group staff and that two of the
three groups increased the number of CBP officers assigned to handle
this workload. 46 In addition, CBP officials noted that personnel at its
facility that supports these programs experienced increased workloads,
which they handled through additional hiring, overtime hours, and
assignment of temporary duty personnel.

In cases where an individual expresses concern about not being able to
board a flight to the United States, CBP Immigration Advisory Program
officers or air carrier personnel are instructed not to reveal to the


45
  CBP compiles reports on these data twice each fiscal year, and at the time we
requested the information, the April 2010 through September 2010 report was the most
recently compiled. We did not request that CBP conduct manual reviews of other reports
because of the labor intensive nature of the reviews.
46
  Regional Carrier Liaison Group positions are not specifically funded but are staffed from
existing CBP port personnel, with CBP port management determining the staffing levels
required at each location.




Page 22               GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
                               individual any law enforcement sensitive information. Rather, the CBP
                               officers or air carrier personnel are to advise the individual to go to the
                               U.S. consulate or the person’s home country passport office, as
                               appropriate, to address the issue. CBP officials also noted that individuals
                               who have travel-related concerns are advised to file an inquiry through
                               DHS TRIP. According to DHS TRIP officials, about 20 percent of all
                               requests for redress that it receives involve CBP inspections conducted at
                               land, sea, or air ports of entry.


State Revoked Hundreds
of Visas Held by
Individuals on the
Watchlist after the
Attempted Attack
State Revoked Hundreds of      After the December 2009 attempted attack, the Executive Office of the
Visas after Attempted Attack   President directed TSC to determine the visa status of all known or
                               suspected terrorists in the TSDB. TSC then worked with State to
                               determine whether individuals who held U.S. visas should continue
                               holding them in light of new threats made evident by the incident.
                               Specifically, in January 2010, State revoked hundreds of visas because it
                               determined that the individuals could present an immediate threat to the
                               United States. State officials noted that these revocations were largely
                               related to individuals who were added to the TSDB—or moved to the No
                               Fly or Selectee lists—after the attempted attack based on new
                               intelligence and threat information.

                               In March 2010, TSC and State initiated another review and identified
                               hundreds of cases in which individuals in the TSDB held U.S. visas.
                               These cases included individuals who were in the TSDB at the time of the
                               December 2009 attempted attack but did not have their visas revoked
                               during the January 2010 review. According to State officials, all
                               individuals who could present an immediate threat to the United States
                               had their visas revoked within 24 hours. In cases involving a less clear
                               nexus to terrorism, the officials noted that visas were not immediately
                               revoked. The officials explained that investigating these cases can take
                               several months and involve extensive coordination with law enforcement
                               and intelligence officials. According to State officials, of these remaining
                               cases, the department revoked a number of visas based on intelligence
                               community recommendations and determined that other visas had been
                               issued properly following the completion of an interagency review process
                               and, in applicable cases, ineligibility waivers provided by DHS.


                               Page 23           GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
Regarding the cases in which State determined that individuals could
continue to hold visas, State officials noted that an individual’s presence
in the TSDB does not itself render that person ineligible for a visa. For
example, State will issue a visa if it determines that the available
information supporting the TSDB record does not meet the statutory
conditions under which an individual may be deemed ineligible for a visa
to the United States, and the individual is not otherwise ineligible for a
visa. 47 The officials added that in those instances where State finds that
an individual is ineligible for a visa—based on provisions in the
Immigration and Nationality Act that define terrorist activities—the
department may still, in certain circumstances, issue a visa if DHS agrees
to grant a waiver of inadmissibility, if such a waiver is available. 48
According to State officials, reasons an individual found ineligible for a
visa may receive a waiver include significant or compelling U.S.
government interests or humanitarian concerns. According to State
officials, while the department consulted with law enforcement and
intelligence community officials regarding whether to revoke the visas,
State has final authority over all visa decisions.

In addition to the hundreds of visa revocations involving individuals in the
TSDB that were related to the reviews directed by the Executive Office of
the President, State data show that the department revoked hundreds
more visas based on terrorism-related grounds during 2010. The total
number of visas State revoked during 2010 was more than double the
number of visas the department revoked based on terrorism-related
grounds during 2009. According to State, as of May 2011, a number of
individuals in the TSDB continued to hold U.S. visas because the
department found that (1) they were ineligible to hold a visa under the



47
  See 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3) (codifying § 212(a)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act,
which identifies terrorist activities as one of the grounds for finding an alien ineligible for a
visa or admission to the United States, and describes in broad terms the types of activities
or circumstances that could lead to such a finding on terrorism grounds). Section 1182
identifies other security and nonsecurity grounds on which an individual may be deemed
ineligible for a visa.
48
  See 8 U.S.C. § 1182(d)(3)(B) (authorizing the Secretary of State, in certain
circumstances and after consultation with the Attorney General and Secretary of
Homeland Security, to grant temporary admission to an alien otherwise deemed
inadmissible thereby, in effect, waiving a determination of inadmissibility). A decision by
the Secretary of State to issue a visa to an otherwise ineligible applicant would not,
however, overcome DHS authority to determine admissibility at a port of entry into the
United States.




Page 24                 GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
                                  terrorism-related provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act but
                                  received waivers of that ineligibility or (2) they were not ineligible to hold
                                  visas under the terrorism-related provisions of the act following standard
                                  interagency processing of the visa applications.

Outcomes of Visa Screening        Under current procedures, State screens visa applicant data against
and Status of New State Efforts   sensitive but unclassified extracts of biographical information drawn from
to Screen Visa Applicants         TSDB records as part of its evaluation process for issuing U.S. visas. If
                                  an applicant for a visa is identified as a possible match with a TSDB
                                  record, consular officers are to initiate a process to obtain additional
                                  information on the individual’s links to terrorism, including information
                                  maintained by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. State data
                                  show that the department denied about 55 percent more nonimmigrant
                                  visas based on terrorism-related grounds during 2010 than it did during
                                  2009, which includes denials involving individuals in the TSDB. Further,
                                  State found that in cases where individuals were ineligible to hold
                                  nonimmigrant visas based on terrorism-related grounds—but evinced
                                  significant or compelling U.S. government interest or humanitarian
                                  concern—the department recommended, and DHS granted, waivers of
                                  ineligibility.

                                  According to State officials, the department’s automated systems do not
                                  capture data on the number of individuals in the TSDB who applied for
                                  visas—or the related outcomes of these applications (e.g., issued or
                                  denied)—because this information is not needed to support the
                                  department’s mission. State officials noted that it would be costly to
                                  change department databases to collect information specific to individuals
                                  applying for visas who are in the TSDB, but the department is working
                                  with TSC on a process to make these data more readily available through
                                  other means. State is also partnering with other agencies to develop a
                                  new, more automated process for reviewing visa applications that is
                                  intended to be more efficient than the current process. The new process
                                  is also intended to help minimize the inconvenience of protracted visa
                                  processing times for applicants incorrectly matched to TSDB records,
                                  among other things.




                                  Page 25            GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
Assessing Outcomes and       Since the December 2009 attempted attack, agencies have taken actions
Impacts of Screening and     to strengthen their respective processes for screening and vetting
Vetting Agency Programs      individuals against TSDB records. However, no entity has acknowledged
                             that it is responsible and accountable for routinely conducting
Could Help Ensure That       governmentwide assessments of how agencies are using the watchlist to
the Watchlist Is Achieving   make screening or vetting decisions and related outcomes or the overall
Intended Results             impact screening or vetting programs are having on agency resources
                             and the traveling public. Also, no entity is assessing whether watchlist-
                             related screening or vetting is achieving intended results from a policy
                             perspective, or if adjustments to agency programs or the watchlisting
                             guidance are needed. Further, no entity is routinely collecting and
                             analyzing data needed to conduct such governmentwide assessments
                             over time. According to the TSC Director, conducting such assessments
                             and developing related metrics will be important in the future.

                             The actions screening and law enforcement agencies have taken since
                             the attempted attack have resulted in more individuals in the TSDB being
                             denied boarding flights, being deemed inadmissible to enter the United
                             States, and having their U.S. visas revoked, among other things. These
                             outcomes demonstrate the homeland security benefits of watchlist-related
                             screening or vetting, but such screening or vetting and related actions
                             have also had impacts on agency resources and the traveling public. For
                             example, new or expanded screening and vetting programs have required
                             agencies to dedicate more staff to check traveler information against
                             TSDB records and take related law enforcement actions. Also, any new
                             or future uses of the watchlist for screening or vetting may result in more
                             individuals being misidentified as the subject of a TSDB record, which can
                             cause traveler delays and other inconveniences. Agencies are
                             independently taking actions to collect information and data on the
                             outcomes of their screening or vetting programs that check against TSDB
                             records, but no entity is routinely assessing governmentwide issues, such
                             as how U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents are being affected
                             by screening or the overall levels of misidentifications that are occurring.
                             Routinely assessing these outcomes and impacts governmentwide could
                             help decision makers determine if the watchlist is achieving its intended
                             results without having unintended consequences or needs further
                             revisions.

                             Because watchlist-related screening or vetting is a governmentwide
                             function, any effort to assess the overall outcomes and impacts must be
                             an interagency effort. The federal government has established
                             interagency working groups to address screening and related issues.
                             However, according to agency officials we contacted, these groups have


                             Page 26           GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
              not conducted governmentwide assessments because they have been
              focused on implementing new or expanding screening or vetting
              programs and revising related policies and procedures, among other
              things.

              Similar to watchlisting issues, in August 2011, a representative of the
              National Security Staff informed us that the Information Sharing and
              Access Interagency Policy Committee recently began performing an
              assessment to support its oversight of new screening processes. The
              representative noted that the depth and frequency of specific reviews will
              vary as necessary and appropriate. The staff did not provide us details on
              these efforts, so we could not determine to what extent the assessments
              will be routine or involve collecting and analyzing data needed to conduct
              such governmentwide assessments over time. As discussed previously,
              the President tasked the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security
              and Counterterrorism to be responsible and accountable for ensuring that
              agencies carry out actions to strengthen the watchlisting process after the
              December 2009 attempted attack. As such, the Assistant to the President
              may be best positioned to ensure that governmentwide assessments of
              the outcomes and impacts of agency screening programs are conducted.

              According to Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government,
              ongoing monitoring of programs and activities should occur during the
              course of normal operations. These standards also note that performance
              data on agency programs be available as a means to hold public service
              organizations accountable for their decisions and actions, including
              stewardship of public funds, fairness, and all aspects of performance. 49
              Routine, governmentwide assessments of screening agency programs
              could help the government determine if the watchlist is achieving its
              intended results, identify broader issues that require attention, and
              improve transparency and provide an accurate accounting to the
              Executive Office of the President and other stakeholders, including
              Congress, for the resources invested in screening processes.


              The attempt on December 25, 2009, to detonate a concealed explosive
Conclusions   on board a U.S.-bound aircraft highlights the importance of the U.S.
              government placing individuals with known or suspected ties to terrorism



              49
               GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.




              Page 27           GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
on its watchlist. The Executive Office of the President’s review of the
attempted attack found that the U.S. government had sufficient
information to have uncovered and potentially disrupted the attempted
attack, but shortcomings in the watchlisting process prevented the
attempted bomber from being nominated for inclusion on the watchlist.
The July 2010 Watchlisting Guidance includes changes that were
intended to address weaknesses in the nominations process. Since the
guidance was approved, agencies have expressed concerns about the
increasing volumes of information and related challenges in processing
this information. The federal entities involved in the nominations process
are taking actions to address challenges related to implementing the
guidance. However, no single entity is routinely assessing the overall
impacts of the watchlisting guidance or the steps taken to strengthen the
nominations process. Working collaboratively to ensure that the
watchlisting community periodically evaluates or assesses the impacts of
the revised guidance on the watchlisting community could (1) help
decision makers determine if the guidance is achieving its intended
outcomes or needs any adjustments, (2) inform future efforts to
strengthen the watchlisting process, (3) help the watchlisting community
understand longer-term impacts of changes to the watchlisting guidance,
and (4) improve transparency and provide an accurate accounting to the
Executive Office of the President and other stakeholders, including
Congress, for the resources invested in the watchlisting process.

Just as agencies are not routinely assessing the impacts of the revisions
made to the watchlisting guidance or the steps taken to strengthen the
nominations process, no single entity is routinely assessing information or
data on the collective outcomes or impacts of agencies’ watchlist
screening operations to determine the effectiveness of changes made to
strengthen screening since the attempted attack or how changes to the
watchlisting guidance have affected screening operations. Routine,
governmentwide assessments of the outcomes and impacts of agencies’
watchlist screening or vetting programs could help ensure that these
programs are achieving their intended results or identify if revisions are
needed. Such assessments could also help identify broader issues that
require attention, determine if impacts on agency resources and the
traveling public are acceptable, and communicate to key stakeholders
how the nation’s investment in the watchlist screening or vetting
processes is enhancing security of the nation’s borders, commercial
aviation, and other security-related activities.




Page 28           GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
                      To help inform future efforts to strengthen watchlisting and screening
Recommendations for   processes, we recommend that the Assistant to the President for
Executive Action      Homeland Security and Counterterrorism establish mechanisms or use
                      existing interagency bodies to routinely assess

                      •    how the watchlisting guidance has impacted the watchlisting
                           community—including its capacity to submit and process nominations
                           in accordance with provisions in the guidance—and whether any
                           adjustments to agency programs or the guidance are needed, and
                      •    whether use of the watchlist during agency screening processes is
                           achieving intended results, including whether the overall outcomes
                           and impacts of screening on agency resources and the traveling
                           public are acceptable and manageable or if adjustments to agency
                           programs or the watchlisting guidance are needed.

                      We provided a draft of the classified version of this report for comment to
Agency Comments       the National Security Staff; the Office of the Director of National
                      Intelligence; the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice,
                      and State; and the CIA. In its written comments, DHS noted that it
                      appreciated the report’s identification of enhancements the department
                      has made to several screening programs to address vulnerabilities
                      exposed by the December 25, 2009, attempted attack, including actions
                      taken by CBP and TSA. DHS also noted that it is committed to working
                      with interagency stakeholders, including the Interagency Policy
                      Committee, to ensure that its use of the watchlist in its screening
                      programs is achieving intended results. 50 DHS also provided technical
                      comments, in addition to its written comments. National Security Staff; the
                      Office of the Director of National Intelligence; and the Departments of
                      Defense, Justice, and State did not provide written comments to include
                      in this report, but provided technical comments, which we have
                      incorporated in this report where appropriate. The CIA did not provide any
                      comments.


                      We are sending copies of this report to National Security Staff; the
                      Attorney General; the Secretaries of the Departments of Defense,
                      Homeland Security, and State; the Directors of National Intelligence and



                      50
                        DHS’s written comments are not included in this report because the department
                      considered them to be Sensitive Security Information.




                      Page 29              GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
Central Intelligence; and appropriate congressional committees. This
report is also available at no charge on the GAO website at
http://www.gao.gov.

Should you or your staff have any questions about this report, please
contact Eileen R. Larence at (202) 512-6510 or larencee@gao.gov. Key
contributors to this report are acknowledged in appendix V. Contact
points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may
be found on the last page of this report.




Eileen R. Larence
Director
Homeland Security and Justice Issues




Page 30           GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
List of Requesters

The Honorable Susan M. Collins
Ranking Member
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
United States Senate

The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings
Ranking Member
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
House of Representatives

The Honorable John F. Tierney
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign
 Operations
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
House of Representatives

The Honorable Bennie G. Thompson
Ranking Member
Committee on Homeland Security
House of Representatives

The Honorable Brian Higgins
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence
Committee on Homeland Security
House of Representatives

The Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Transportation Security
Committee on Homeland Security
House of Representatives




Page 31              GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
                        Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
                        Methodology



Methodology

                        Our reporting objectives were to determine (1) the actions the federal
Objectives              government has taken since the December 25, 2009, attempted attack to
                        strengthen the watchlist nominations process, the extent to which
                        departments and agencies are experiencing challenges in implementing
                        revised watchlisting guidance, and the extent to which agencies are
                        assessing impacts of the actions they have taken; (2) how the
                        composition of the watchlist has changed as a result of actions taken by
                        departments and agencies after the attempted attack; and (3) how
                        screening and law enforcement agencies are addressing vulnerabilities
                        exposed by the attempted attack as well as the outcomes of related
                        screening, and to what extent federal agencies are assessing the impacts
                        of this screening.


                        In general, we focused on the federal entities that were tasked by the
Scope and               Executive Office of the President to take corrective actions after the
Methodology             attempted attack: 1 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS);
                        Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and
                        Terrorist Screening Center (TSC); Department of State (State);
                        Department of Defense; Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s
                        National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC); Central Intelligence Agency
                        (CIA); and Executive Office of the President’s National Security Staff. 2


Watchlist Nominations   To determine actions the federal government has taken to strengthen the
Process                 watchlist nominations process, we analyzed postattack government
                        reports, including reports issued by the Executive Office of the President
                        and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. 3 We analyzed the


                        1
                         Executive Office of the President, Memorandum on Attempted Terrorist Attack on
                        December 25, 2009: Intelligence, Screening, and Watchlisting System Corrective Actions
                        (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 7, 2010).
                        2
                         NCTC—within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence—serves as the primary
                        organization in the U.S. government for, among other things, analyzing and integrating all
                        intelligence pertaining to terrorism and counterterrorism, except for intelligence pertaining
                        exclusively to domestic terrorists and domestic counterterrorism. See 50 U.S.C. §
                        404o(d)(1).
                        3
                         Executive Office of the President, Summary of the White House Review of the December
                        25, 2009, Attempted Terrorist Attack (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 7, 2010), and Senate Select
                        Committee on Intelligence, Unclassified Summary of the Committee Report on the
                        Attempted Terrorist Attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 (Washington, D.C.: May 18,
                        2010).




                        Page 32                GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




Watchlisting Guidance that was approved in July 2010 and compared it to
the February 2009 watchlisting protocol—the last version that was
published before the attempted attack—to identify changes that were
intended to strengthen agencies’ abilities to nominate known or
suspected terrorist to the watchlist. We interviewed officials from five
entities that nominate individuals for inclusion on the terrorist watchlist, as
well as NCTC’s Deputy Director for the Terrorist Identities and TSC’s
Director. 4 We also met with officials from the Executive Office of the
President’s Information Sharing and Access Interagency Policy
Committee and its Subcommittee on Watchlisting, which provides an
interagency forum to which agencies can bring watchlist-related issues for
discussion and resolution. 5

To identify to what extent agencies are experiencing challenges
implementing changes to the watchlisting guidance, we analyzed data
and documentation provided by seven federal entities involved in the
nominations process—such as nominations data for the period January
2009 through May 2011—as well as the congressional testimony of
NCTC, TSC, and FBI leadership and program directors. 6 We also
interviewed the watchlisting unit directors and program staff at each of the
five nominating agencies, NCTC’s Deputy Director for the Terrorist
Identities, and the TSC Director to discuss their nominations processes,
the number of nominations they send to NCTC, and how, if at all, the
changes to the nominations process have created challenges for each
agency.

To determine to what extent agencies are assessing for the impacts of
the actions they have taken, we interviewed officials from five federal
entities who participate in the Information Sharing and Access



4
 In general, a nominating agency is any federal department or agency that has
determined that an individual is a known or suspected terrorist and nominates that
individual for inclusion in Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) database and
the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB).
5
 The Interagency Policy Committees are the main day-to-day forums for interagency
coordination of national security policy, providing policy analysis and ensuring timely
responses to decisions made by the President. See, Presidential Policy Directive 1,
Organization of the National Security Council System (Feb. 13, 2009).
6
 Regarding nominations data, we did not review or assess the derogatory information
available on individuals nominated to the terrorist watchlist, partly because such
information involved ongoing counterterrorism or counterintelligence investigations.




Page 33                GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
                     Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
                     Methodology




                     Interagency Policy Committee’s Subcommittee on Watchlisting and
                     related working groups.


Composition of the   To identify how the composition of the watchlist has changed since the
Watchlist            attempted attack, we reviewed TSC data from late December 2009
                     through March 2010 on the number of individuals who were added to
                     TSC’s Terrorist Screening Database and its subset No Fly and Selectee
                     lists that are used to screen airline passengers before boarding, and
                     related efforts to determine whether the individuals should remain on
                     these lists. 7 To identify broader trends in the size and composition of the
                     watchlist and subset lists, we reviewed TSC monthly data for 2009 and
                     2010 on the number of individuals on these lists, including U.S. citizens
                     and lawful permanent residents. We also determined how the revised
                     watchlisting guidance has impacted the size of these lists. Further, we
                     interviewed senior-level officials from TSC and NCTC to identify factors
                     that contributed to trends in the size of the lists during 2009 and 2010,
                     and to obtain their perspectives on how changes in the watchlist guidance
                     had impacted growth in the lists.


Screening and Law    To identify how screening and law enforcement agencies have addressed
Enforcement Agency   vulnerabilities exposed by the attempted attack and how they are
Actions              assessing the outcomes and impacts of screening or vetting, we focused
                     on the departments and agencies that use the watchlist to screen
                     individuals traveling to the United States—the Transportation Security
                     Administration (TSA), which screens passengers before they board
                     aircraft; U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which inspects
                     travelers to determine their admissibility into the United States; and State,
                     which screens individuals who apply for U.S. visas.

                     To determine agency actions to address vulnerabilities in screening or
                     vetting and related outcomes, we analyzed TSA, CBP, and State
                     documentation—such as documents that discuss new or expanded
                     screening programs—as well as testimonies and inspector general
                     reports. We obtained data—generally for 2009 and 2010 but in some
                     cases through May 2011—on how often these agencies have


                     7
                      In general, individuals on the No Fly List are to be precluded from boarding an aircraft,
                     and individuals on the Selectee List are to receive additional screening prior to boarding
                     an aircraft.




                     Page 34               GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




encountered individuals on the watchlist and the outcomes of these
encounters to help determine what impact changes in agency screening
or vetting procedures has had on operations and the traveling public,
among other things. We also interviewed senior-level officials from these
agencies; these interviews included discussions about how agencies’
screening or vetting procedures have changed since the attempted attack
and how they are assessing the impacts of the changes. Further, to better
understand the impacts of watchlist screening or vetting on the traveling
public, we analyzed data for 2009 and 2010 on individuals who had
inquiries or sought resolution regarding difficulties they experienced
during their travel-related screening or inspection and interviewed DHS
officials who are responsible for providing redress for these individuals.
Regarding federal government efforts to assess the outcomes and
impacts of actions agencies have taken to strengthen screening or vetting
processes since the December 2009 attempted attack, we obtained
information on the extent to which federal monitoring activities and
practices are consistent with GAO’s Standards for Internal Control in the
Federal Government. 8

To assess the reliability of data on watchlist nominations, number of
watchlist records in databases, and screening outcomes, we interviewed
knowledgeable officials about the data and the systems that produced the
data, reviewed relevant documentation, examined data for obvious errors,
and (when possible) corroborated the data among the different agencies.
We determined that the data were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of
this report. We conducted this performance audit from February 2010 to
May 2012 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
standards. 9 Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit
to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis
for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We
believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives.




8
 GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1
(Washington, D.C.: November 1999).
9
We issued a classified report on this work in December 2011.




Page 35               GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
Appendix II: Overview of the Watchlist
              Appendix II: Overview of the Watchlist
              Nominations Process



Nominations Process

              Pursuant to Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6, the Terrorist
              Screening Center (TSC) was established to develop and maintain the
              U.S. government’s consolidated watchlist—the Terrorist Screening
              Database (TSDB)—and to provide for the use of watchlist records during
              security-related screening processes. 1 The watchlisting and screening
              processes are intended to support the U.S. government’s efforts to
              combat terrorism by consolidating the terrorist watchlist and providing
              screening and law enforcement agencies with information to help them
              respond appropriately during encounters with known or suspected
              terrorists, among other things.

              TSC receives watchlist information for inclusion in the TSDB from two
              sources: the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and the Federal
              Bureau of Investigation (FBI). TSC receives the vast majority of its
              watchlist information from NCTC, which compiles information on known or
              suspected international terrorists from executive branch departments and
              agencies—such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Department of
              State (State), and the FBI—and maintains the information in its Terrorist
              Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) database. 2 According to NCTC,
              the TIDE database includes, to the extent permitted by law, all information
              the U.S. government possesses related to the identities of individuals
              known or suspected to be or have been involved in activities constituting,
              in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism, with the exception of
              purely domestic terrorism information. Examples of conduct that will
              warrant an entry into TIDE include persons who

              •   engage in international terrorist activity;
              •   prepare or plan international terrorist activity;
              •   gather information on potential targets for international terrorist
                  activity;
              •   solicit funds or other things of value for international terrorist activity or
                  a terrorist organization;
              •   solicit membership in an international terrorist organization;
              •   provide material support, such as a safe house, transportation,
                  communications, funds, transfer of funds or other material financial



              1
               Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6: Integration and Use of Screening Information
              (Sept. 16, 2003).
              2
               TIDE is the U.S. government’s central repository of information on known or suspected
              international terrorists and is maintained by NCTC.




              Page 36                GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
Appendix II: Overview of the Watchlist
Nominations Process




    benefit, false documentation or identification, weapons, explosives, or
    training; or
•   are members of or represent a foreign terrorist organization. 3
In general, nominating agencies submit terrorism-related information to
NCTC to add information to existing records in TIDE as well as to
nominate new individuals to be included in TIDE, with the additional
purpose of nominating known or suspected terrorists to the TSDB.
Nominations are to include pertinent derogatory information and any
biographic information—such as name and date of birth—needed to
establish the identity of individuals on the watchlist.

The FBI provides TSC with information about known or suspected
domestic terrorists. According to the FBI’s Domestic Terrorist Operations
Unit, domestic terrorists engage in activities that (1) involve acts
dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the
United States or any state; (2) appear to be intended to intimidate or
coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by
intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of a government by mass
destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and (3) occur primarily within
the jurisdiction of the United States. 4

In general, the FBI nominates individuals who are subjects of ongoing FBI
counterterrorism investigations to TSC for inclusion in the TSDB,
including persons the FBI is preliminarily investigating to determine if they
have links to terrorism. In determining whether to open an investigation,
the FBI uses guidelines established by the Attorney General, which
contain specific standards for opening investigations. The FBI also has a
process for submitting requests to NCTC to nominate known or
suspected international terrorists who are not subjects of FBI
investigations.

In accordance with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6—and built
upon through Homeland Security Presidential Directives 11 and 24—the
TSDB is to contain information about individuals known or suspected to


3
 In general, these types of conduct are related to provisions in the Immigration and
Nationality Act that establishes grounds for alien admissibility on terrorist-related grounds.
See, e.g., 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3) (codifying section 212(a)(3) of the Immigration and
Nationality Act, as amended).
4
 See 18 U.S.C. § 2331(5).




Page 37                GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
Appendix II: Overview of the Watchlist
Nominations Process




be or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid
of, or related to terrorism and terrorist activities. 5 NCTC and the FBI apply
a reasonable-suspicion standard to determine which individuals are
appropriate for inclusion in the TSDB. Determining whether individuals
meet this standard, however, can involve some level of subjectivity.
NCTC and the FBI are to consider information from all available sources
and databases—including information forwarded by nominating agencies
as well as information in their own holdings—to determine if there is a
reasonable suspicion of links to terrorism that warrants a nomination.

Once NCTC and the FBI determine that an individual meets the
reasonable-suspicion standard and that minimum biographic information
exists, they extract sensitive but unclassified information on the
individual’s identity—such as name and date of birth—from their classified
databases and send the information to TSC. TSC reviews these
nominations—evaluating the derogatory and biographic information, in
accordance with the watchlisting guidance—to determine whether to add
nominated individuals to the TSDB. As TSC adds individuals to the
watchlist, the list may include persons with possible ties to terrorism in
addition to people with known links, thereby establishing a broad
spectrum of individuals who are considered known or suspected
terrorists. Figure 2 provides an overview of the process used to nominate
individuals for inclusion in the TSDB.




5
 See, Homeland Security Presidential Directive 11: Comprehensive Terrorist-Related
Screening Procedures (Aug. 27, 2004) and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 24:
Biometrics for Identification and Screening to Enhance National Security (June 5, 2008).




Page 38                GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
                                        Appendix II: Overview of the Watchlist
                                        Nominations Process




Figure 2: Overview of the Watchlist Nominations Process




                                        Consistent with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6, to ensure that
                                        watchlist information is current, accurate, and complete, nominating
                                        agencies generally are to provide information to remove an individual
                                        from the watchlist when it is determined that no nexus to terrorism exists.

                                        To support agency screening or law enforcement processes, TSC sends
                                        applicable records from the TSDB to screening or law enforcement
                                        agency systems for use in efforts to deter or detect the movement of



                                        Page 39                GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
Appendix II: Overview of the Watchlist
Nominations Process




known or suspected terrorists. For instance, applicable TSC records are
provided to TSA for use in screening airline passengers, to U.S. Customs
and Border Protection (CBP) for use in vetting and inspecting persons
traveling to and from the United States, and to State for use in screening
visa applicants. Regarding individuals who are not citizens or nationals of
the United States seeking travel to and entry into the United States,
screening and law enforcement agencies rely on immigration laws that
specify criteria and rules for deciding whether to issue visas to individuals
or to admit them into the country. 6 In many instances, individuals who are
not citizens or nationals of the United States who have engaged in or are
likely to engage in terrorist-related activities may be ineligible to receive
visas or inadmissible for entry to the United States, or both. If a foreign
citizen is lawfully admitted into the United States—either permanently or
temporarily—and subsequently engages in or is likely to engage in a
terrorist activity, the individual, in certain circumstances, may be removed
to his or her country of citizenship. U.S. citizens returning to the United
States from abroad are not subject to the admissibility requirements of the
Immigration and Nationality Act, regardless of whether they are subjects
of watchlist records. In general, these individuals only need to establish
their U.S. citizenship to the satisfaction of the examining officer—by, for
example, presenting a U.S. passport—to obtain entry into the United
States. 7 U.S. Citizens are subject to inspection by CBP before being
permitted to enter, and additional actions may be taken, as appropriate.




6
 See, e.g., 8 U.S.C. § 1182 (codifying § 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as
amended, and establishing conditions under which an alien—any person not a citizen or
national of the United States—may be deemed ineligible for a visa or inadmissible to the
United States).
7
 See 8 C.F.R. § 235.1. Similarly, lawful permanent residents generally are not regarded
as seeking admission to the United States and are not subject to the grounds for
inadmissibility unless they fall within certain criteria listed at 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(13)(C) that
describe why an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence would be regarded as
seeking admission. Lawful permanent residents, however, may be subject to the grounds
of removability under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a) after admission.




Page 40                 GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
Appendix III: Transportation Security
                Appendix III: Transportation Security
                Administration’s Secure Flight Program and
                Related Activities


Administration’s Secure Flight Program and
Related Activities
                This appendix presents an overview of the Transportation Security
                Administration’s (TSA) Secure Flight program, which began
                implementation before the December 25, 2009, attempted attack and is a
                key part of TSA’s efforts to address vulnerabilities that were exposed by
                the incident. This appendix also discusses how the program has reduced
                the likelihood of passengers misidentified as being on the watchlist and
                provides an update on the status of TSA efforts to validate the information
                that passengers report when making a reservation that is used in the
                watchlist-matching process.


                The matching of airline passenger information against terrorist watchlist
Secure Flight   records is a frontline defense against acts of terrorism that target the
Overview        nation’s civil aviation system. In general, passengers identified by the
                TSA as a match to the No Fly List are prohibited from boarding flights to,
                from, and within the United States, while those matched to the Selectee
                List are required to undergo additional screening prior to boarding such
                flights. 1 Historically, airline passenger prescreening was performed by air
                carriers pursuant to federal requirements. However, in accordance with
                the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, TSA
                developed an advanced passenger prescreening program known as
                Secure Flight that enabled TSA to assume from air carriers the function of
                watchlist matching. 2 Secure Flight is intended to

                •   eliminate inconsistencies in passenger watchlist matching procedures
                    conducted by air carriers and use a larger set of watchlist records
                    when warranted,
                •   reduce the number of individuals who are misidentified as being on
                    the No Fly or Selectee lists,
                •   reduce the risk of unauthorized disclosure of sensitive watchlist
                    information, and




                1
                 The No Fly and Selectee lists are subsets of the consolidated terrorist watchlist that is
                maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Terrorist Screening Center.
                2
                 See Pub. L. No. 108-458, § 4012(a), 118 Stat. 3638, 3714-18 (2004) (codified at 49
                U.S.C. § 44903(j)(2)(C)). See also Secure Flight Program; Final Rule, 73 Fed. Reg.
                64,018 (Oct. 28, 2008).




                Page 41                GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
                     Appendix III: Transportation Security
                     Administration’s Secure Flight Program and
                     Related Activities




                     •   integrate information from DHS’s redress process into watchlist
                         matching so that individuals are less likely to be improperly or unfairly
                         delayed or prohibited from boarding an aircraft. 3
                     In January 2009, the Secure Flight program began initial operations—
                     assuming the watchlist-matching function for a limited number of
                     domestic flights for one airline—and subsequently phased in additional
                     flights and airlines. TSA completed assumption of this function for all
                     domestic and international flights operated by U.S. air carriers in June
                     2010 and completed assumption of this function for covered foreign air
                     carriers flying to and from the United States in November 2010. 4


                     Since the December 2009 attempted attack, TSA has completed its
Secure Flight Has    assumption of the watchlist-matching function from air carriers—under the
Reduced              Secure Flight program—which has reduced the likelihood of passengers
                     misidentified as being on the watchlist. According to TSA data, Secure
Misidentifications   Flight is consistently clearing over 99 percent of passengers automatically
                     (less than 1 percent of passengers are being misidentified as being on
                     the No Fly List or Selectee List). When misidentifications occur, a
                     passenger may not be able to print a boarding pass from a computer or
                     an airport kiosk. Rather, the individual may have to go to the airline ticket
                     counter to provide identifying information that is used to determine if the
                     person is a positive match to the No Fly List or Selectee List. Before
                     Secure Flight, more passengers had to go through this process to verify
                     their identities, since each airline conducted watchlist matching differently
                     with varying effectiveness.

                     The Secure Flight program increases the effectiveness of watchlist
                     matching, applying an enhanced watchlist-matching system and process
                     consistently across the airline industry. Under Secure Flight, air carriers
                     are required to (1) collect full name and date-of-birth and gender
                     information from airline passengers and (2) be capable of collecting


                     3
                      See GAO, Aviation Security: TSA Has Completed Key Activities Associated with
                     Implementing Secure Flight, but Additional Actions Are Needed to Mitigate Risks,
                     GAO-09-292 (Washington, D.C.: May 13, 2009). In general, the term redress refers to an
                     agency’s complaint resolution process whereby individuals may seek resolution of their
                     concerns about an agency action.
                     4
                      Secure Flight also performs this screening function for covered airline flights that travel
                     over the continental United States and “point-to-point” international flights operated by
                     covered U.S.-based airlines.




                     Page 42                GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
Appendix III: Transportation Security
Administration’s Secure Flight Program and
Related Activities




redress control numbers from passengers. 5 Collecting such information
helps reduce misidentifications. According to TSA, Secure Flight is
required to submit an annual report to the Office of Management and
Budget certifying that the program has met its baseline goal for reducing
misidentifications.

Further, people who have been denied or delayed airline boarding, have
been denied or delayed entry into or exit from the United States at a port
of entry or border crossing; or have been repeatedly referred to additional
(secondary) inspection can file an inquiry to seek redress. After
completing the redress process—which includes submitting all applicable
documents—an individual will receive a redress control number that may
facilitate future travel. For example, airline passengers who have
completed the redress process and are determined by DHS as not being
the subject of a watchlist record are put on the department’s list of
individuals who are “cleared” to travel. Using the redress control number
when making reservations for future travel may help to prevent
misidentifications.

To mitigate future risks of performance shortfalls and strengthen
management of the Secure Flight program moving forward, in May 2009,
we recommended that TSA periodically assess the performance of the
Secure Flight system’s matching capabilities and results to determine
whether the system is accurately matching watchlisted individuals while
minimizing the number of false positives, consistent with the goals of the
program; document how this assessment will be conducted and how its
results will be measured; and use these results to determine whether the
system settings should be modified. 6 TSA’s actions discussed below fully
respond to the recommendation we made in our May 2009 report.

TSA has developed performance measures to report on and monitor
Secure Flight’s name matching capabilities. According to TSA, Secure
Flight leadership reviews the daily reports, which reflect quality, match
rate, false positive rates, and other metrics. Reviews are to include
analysis, discussion with program leadership, and identification of



5
 The Secure Flight Final Rule provides that air carriers must request a passenger’s full
name, gender, date of birth, and Redress or Known Traveler Number (if available), but it
only requires that passengers provide their full name, gender, and date of birth.
6
GAO-09-292.




Page 43               GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
Appendix III: Transportation Security
Administration’s Secure Flight Program and
Related Activities




process and data quality improvements to increase efficiency and reduce
possible false positive matches to the watchlist. In addition, DHS
established a multidepartmental Match Review Board Working Group and
a Match Review Board to, among other things, review the performance
measures and recommend changes to improve system performance.
According to TSA, the working group meets on a biweekly basis and the
board meets monthly, or as required, to review working group findings
and to make system change recommendations. For example, the board
has recommended changes in the threshold used for determining whether
an individual is a match to a watchlist record and has decided to
implement additional search tools to enhance Secure Flight’s automated
name-matching capabilities. Furthermore, TSA plans to periodically
assess the extent to which the Secure Flight program fails to identify
individuals who are actual matches to the watchlist.




Page 44               GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
Appendix IV: Redress Process for Individuals
                       Appendix IV: Redress Process for Individuals
                       Experiencing Difficulties during Travel-Related
                       Screening and Inspection


Experiencing Difficulties during Travel-
Related Screening and Inspection
                       The DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP) is a single point
                       of contact for individuals who have inquiries or seek resolution regarding
                       difficulties they experienced during their travel screening at transportation
                       hubs—like airports and train stations—or crossing U.S. borders, including

                       •   watchlist issues;
                       •   inspection problems at ports of entry; and
                       •   situations where travelers believe they have been unfairly or
                           incorrectly delayed, denied boarding, or identified for additional
                           screening or inspection at our nation’s transportation hubs.
                       While serving as the point of contact for the receipt, tracking, and
                       response to redress applications, DHS TRIP generally refers cases to the
                       appropriate screening agency for review and adjudication.


                       According to DHS TRIP officials, since the December 2009 attempted
Changes to DHS TRIP    attack, the office implemented a new procedure to ensure that (1) the
Watchlist-Related      office is promptly notified when an individual who is determined by DHS
                       TRIP as not being the subject a watchlist record—and, therefore, has
Procedures since the   been put on the department’s list of individuals who are “cleared” to
Attempted Attack       travel—is subsequently added to the watchlist and (2) redress applicants
                       are provided additional information regarding the resolution of their cases.
                       Prior to the attempted attack, DHS TRIP would conduct electronic
                       comparisons once each day to ensure that someone who had been
                       cleared as a result of the redress process had not subsequently been
                       added to the watchlist. Since the attempted attack, DHS TRIP now
                       conducts continuous checks (on a 24/7 basis) of cleared individuals
                       against the watchlist every time the watchlist is updated. According to
                       DHS TRIP officials, this change provides the office immediate notification
                       if an individual who is cleared through the redress process is
                       subsequently added to the watchlist. In turn, DHS TRIP officials can alert
                       screening agencies more quickly that an individual should not be cleared
                       if encountered during screening.

                       Separately, DHS TRIP—at the direction of the Secretary of Homeland
                       Security and in partnership with the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC),
                       Departments of Justice and State, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI),
                       and other members of the interagency redress community—has taken
                       steps intended to help provide transparency to redress applicants
                       regarding the resolution of their cases.




                       Page 45                GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
                   Appendix IV: Redress Process for Individuals
                   Experiencing Difficulties during Travel-Related
                   Screening and Inspection




                   According to DHS TRIP data, individuals submitted approximately 32,000
DHS TRIP Redress   applications for redress during 2009 and 36,000 applications during
Data and Related   2010. 1 The DHS TRIP redress application asks travelers to identify their
Information        areas of concern, but the information collected generally does not allow
                   DHS TRIP officials to determine if individuals were misidentified as being
                   on the watchlist. DHS TRIP officials explained that since the application
                   allows travelers to list multiple reasons for applying—and the individuals
                   generally do not know why they were subject to additional screening,
                   inspection, or delay—the office cannot conclude with certainty that being
                   misidentified as being on the watchlist was the cause of an applicant’s
                   inconvenience. In late 2009, as part of the rollout of TSA’s Secure Flight
                   program, several air carriers instituted a public awareness campaign
                   encouraging travelers to submit redress inquiries if they believed that they
                   have been misidentified in the past. Finally, DHS TRIP officials noted that
                   individual screening and law enforcement agencies are in the best
                   position to understand if their screening and law enforcement systems
                   and procedures incorrectly identify individuals as matches with watchlist
                   records. The officials explained that these agencies have access to more
                   detailed records that would identify reasons for a delay or inconvenience,
                   including a misidentification to the watchlist.

                   According to DHS TRIP, less than 1 percent of individuals who apply for
                   redress have been confirmed matches to the watchlist or have identifying
                   information (e.g., name and date of birth) that closely matches someone
                   on the watchlist. In such cases, DHS TRIP forwards the inquiry to TSC for
                   resolution. TSC data show that the government has procedures in place
                   to review the information that supports a watchlist record upon receipt of
                   a redress inquiry and has revised the watchlist status of individuals based
                   on these reviews. We did not review the effectiveness of these
                   procedures.




                   1
                    According to DHS TRIP officials, these numbers could include multiple inquiries from
                   individuals providing additional supporting documentation, reapplying regarding the same
                   issue, or reporting other travel-related difficulties. In addition, the officials said that a small
                   number of inquiries are related to misdirected communications sent to DHS TRIP from
                   outside parties, including law offices.




                   Page 46                 GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
Appendix V: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Appendix V: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                  Eileen R. Larence, (202) 512-6510 or larencee@gao.gov
GAO Contact
                  In addition to the contact named above, Eric Erdman, Assistant Director;
Staff             Mona Blake; Jeffrey DeMarco; Michele Fejfar; Lisa Humphrey; Richard
Acknowledgments   Hung; Thomas Lombardi; Linda Miller; Victoria Miller; Jan Montgomery;
                  Timothy Persons; and Michelle Woods made key contributions to this
                  report.




(441047)
                  Page 47              GAO-12-476 Terrorist Watchlist Nominations and Screening Processes
GAO’s Mission         The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation, and
                      investigative arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its
                      constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and
                      accountability of the federal government for the American people. GAO
                      examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and
                      policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance
                      to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions.
                      GAO’s commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of
                      accountability, integrity, and reliability.

                      The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no
Obtaining Copies of   cost is through GAO’s website (www.gao.gov). Each weekday afternoon,
GAO Reports and       GAO posts on its website newly released reports, testimony, and
                      correspondence. To have GAO e-mail you a list of newly posted products,
Testimony             go to www.gao.gov and select “E-mail Updates.”

Order by Phone        The price of each GAO publication reflects GAO’s actual cost of
                      production and distribution and depends on the number of pages in the
                      publication and whether the publication is printed in color or black and
                      white. Pricing and ordering information is posted on GAO’s website,
                      http://www.gao.gov/ordering.htm.
                      Place orders by calling (202) 512-6000, toll free (866) 801-7077, or
                      TDD (202) 512-2537.
                      Orders may be paid for using American Express, Discover Card,
                      MasterCard, Visa, check, or money order. Call for additional information.
                      Connect with GAO on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube.
Connect with GAO      Subscribe to our RSS Feeds or E-mail Updates. Listen to our Podcasts.
                      Visit GAO on the web at www.gao.gov.
                      Contact:
To Report Fraud,
Waste, and Abuse in   Website: www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm
                      E-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov
Federal Programs      Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470

                      Katherine Siggerud, Managing Director, siggerudk@gao.gov, (202) 512-
Congressional         4400, U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room
Relations             7125, Washington, DC 20548

                      Chuck Young, Managing Director, youngc1@gao.gov, (202) 512-4800
Public Affairs        U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7149
                      Washington, DC 20548




                        Please Print on Recycled Paper.