Border Security: Additional Actions Needed to Improve Planning for a Biometric Air Exit System

This U.S Government Accountability Office (GAO) statement today is based on its July 2013 report and, like that report, discusses the extent to which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made progress in developing and implementing a biometric exit system at air ports of entry, which is DHS’s priority for a biometric exit capability. As GAO reported in July 2013, DHS has not yet fulfilled the 2004 statutory requirement to implement a biometric exit capability, but has planning efforts under way to report to Congress in time for the fiscal year 2016 budget cycle on the costs and benefits of such a capability at airports and seaports. In an October 2010 memo, DHS identified three primary reasons why it has been unable to determine how and when to implement a biometric exit capability at airports: (1) The methods of collecting biometric data could disrupt the flow of travelers through airport terminals; (2) air carriers and airport authorities had not allowed DHS to examine mechanisms through which DHS could incorporate biometric data collection into passenger processing at the departure gate; and (3) challenges existed in capturing biometric data at the point of departure, including determining what personnel should be responsible for the capture of biometric information at airports. In July 2013, GAO reported that, according to DHS officials, the challenges DHS identified in October 2010 continue to affect the department’s ability to implement a biometric air exit system. DHS reported in May 2012 that it planned to take steps to address these recommendations by May 2014; however, as GAO reported in July 2013, according to DHS Office of Policy and S&T officials, the department does not expect to fully address these recommendations by then. In particular, DHS officials stated that it has been difficult coordinating with airlines and airports, which have expressed reluctance about biometric air exit because of concerns over its effect on operations and potential costs. In summary, GAO concluded in its July 2013 report that without robust planning that includes time frames and milestones to develop and implement an evaluation framework for this assessment, DHS lacks reasonable assurance that it will be able to provide this assessment to Congress for the fiscal year 2016 budget cycle as planned. Furthermore, any delays in providing this information to Congress could further affect possible implementation of a biometric exit system to address statutory requirements.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Pagination: 13p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01495188
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO-13-853T
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 27 2013 9:39AM