We provided a draft audit report to the FBI and the TSC for review and comment. The TSC's response is incorporated as Appendix III of this report. Although the cover letter to the response notes that FBI review for classification issues was pending, we subsequently received written confirmation that the report does not contain any classified information.
The TSC concurred with the five recommendations we made in the audit. Our analysis of the TSC's response to each recommendation is provided below.
- Resolved. The TSC stated that it agreed with our recommendation to work closer with the FBI budget staff or develop an in-house capacity to formulate, execute, and track a TSC budget that captures cost information by program and accounts for the total fiscal requirements of the organization. In its response, the TSC stated that it needs to work with the FBI's Finance Division to build the TSC's personnel capacity for conducting budget and financial tasks. According to the TSC, its ability to estimate its Secure Flight costs has been significantly hampered by the lack of information from the TSA related to the detailed requirements of the Secure Flight program. The TSC believes that once Secure Flight is launched and a baseline for the program can be established, the TSC will be able to implement an effective cost accounting system for the Secure Flight program that will not only provide actual direct and indirect costs, but also allow for more accurate estimates of future costs.
This recommendation can be closed when we receive evidence that the TSC has established and implemented an effective cost accounting system. However, the TSC needs to enhance its financial personnel capacity in order to develop such a system. In addition, specific and accurate Secure Flight cost projections are dependent upon the availability of valid Secure Flight operational data. In the interim, please keep us regularly informed of your progress in implementing the new accounting system and building the in-house capacity to operate and manage the new system to formulate accurate and reliable financial data.
- Resolved. In its response, the TSC stated that it will continue to coordinate with the TSA to ensure that the most current and accurate Secure Flight data is available. According to the TSC, it plans to develop baseline figures for Secure Flight and use that baseline to calculate revised resource estimates as Secure Flight is implemented and screening volume in the TSC's call center increases. In addition, the TSC said it intends to continually evaluate the technological needs of the Secure Flight program and the need for additional enhancements to its IT systems or modifications to the underlying agreements between the TSC and the TSA. The TSC said it will use these operational and IT evaluations to recalculate the overall financial costs of Secure Flight on a quarterly basis.
To close the recommendation, please provide us with the Secure Flight baseline data and evidence of the quarterly reviews of the program costs, needs, and agreements.
- Resolved. The TSC stated that it agreed with our recommendation to adopt the Terrorist Watchlist Person Data Exchange Standard (TWPDES) protocol, but noted that the TSA is not presently equipped to use the standard. According to the TSC, once Secure Flight operations have begun and reliable data on the screening volume and processing times are available, the TSC plans to work with the TSA to bring the data exchange into conformance with the TWPDES. To close this recommendation, please provide evidence that the TWPDES has been successfully adopted and the standard is adhered to in the transfer of TSDB data to the TSA.
- Resolved. In its response, the TSC stated that it agreed with our recommendation and will expedite the record by record review of the TSDB. The TSC also noted that the quality of watch list records is heavily dependent upon the quality of information provided by the nominating agencies and that this quality is expected to improve as the terrorist watch-listing and screening processes mature. According to the TSC, the National Counterterrorism Center, a primary source of terrorist records, is also conducting a record-by-record review of its watch list records.
To close this recommendation, please provide evidence of your attempts to expedite the TSC's record-by-record review of the TSDB. The TSC should establish aggressive milestones for the successful completion of the project and track its progress against these milestones. In addition, please provide documentation to support your interaction with participating agencies related to improving the overall accuracy, completeness, and thoroughness of terrorist watch list data.
- Resolved. The TSC stated that it agreed with our recommendation and is taking continuous action to reprioritize its projects. According to the TSC, it has been using project management software to track its varied projects and intends to expand the use of this tool. This recommendation can be closed when we receive evidence that the TSC has developed a plan for implementing, in priority order, the projects that had been placed on hold due to Secure Flight.