International. A report by the U.S. Comptroller General 'GAO' reports that the move toward biometric departures at airports still needs to be refined before it becomes a reality as an additional security measure.
The report reveals that in February 2013 the Secretary of Homeland Security testified that the DHS department has plans to report overstay rates since December 2013. But DHS officials have yet to evaluate or document improvements in the reliability of the data used to maintain overstay records, in line with federal internal control standards. Without a documented assessment to support the reliability of overstay data, the agency could lack the essential information required to use that type of data in policy-making.
Biometric control of departures means that airports will collect biometric data, such as fingerprints, to record the departure of passengers, but for the department of homeland security this is more of an aspiration than a reality.
Homeland Security has used biometric entry at U.S. airports and other border crossings since 2004. The US-VISIT program has been collecting fingerprint data from foreign travelers and comparing it against a watch list. The DHS department has piloted biometric exits, but has not fully implemented that system, although the 10 busiest airports are supposed to test it.
The reasoning behind GAO's report, titled "Applying the Law regarding Overstay," is simple: Millions of people visit the United States every year legally on a temporary basis or without a visa.
The overstay applies to those individuals who are legally admitted on a temporary basis, but stay beyond the authorized period. Homeland Security has primary responsibility for identifying such overpasses and taking appropriate action to enforce the law.
The Office of the Comptroller General has been checking these violations for a long time and in April 2011 gave information on the actions of the DHS department to identify overstays and act on them, making recommendations to strengthen those processes.
The GAO report, which reviews the Department of Homeland Security's progress since April 2011, states:
*DHS's efforts to review its records to identify potential overstays in the country.
*To what extent changes to DHS systems or processes have increased data regarding potential overpasses and strengthened that department's ability to report overstay rates.
How far DHS has made toward the goal of establishing an exit biometric system.