Follow-up Audit of the Terrorist Screening Center

Audit Report 07-41
September 2007
Office of the Inspector General

Appendix I
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology

Audit Objectives

The objectives of the audit were to: (1) determine whether accurate and complete records are disseminated to and from the Terrorist Screening Center’s (TSC) watchlist database in a timely fashion; (2) review the TSC’s efforts to ensure the quality of the information in the watchlist database; and (3) assess the TSC’s efforts to address complaints raised by individuals who believe they have been incorrectly identified as watchlist subjects.

Scope and Methodology

We performed our audit in accordance with Government Auditing Standards issued by the Comptroller General of the United States, and accordingly, included such tests of the records and procedures that we considered necessary. Our audit covered but was not limited to the period of June 2005 through April 2007.

To accomplish our objectives, we conducted work primarily at the TSC, located in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Additionally, we interviewed personnel at other federal agencies and offices whose work relates to TSC operations, such as NCTC, the FBI, DHS, and the White House Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

To obtain an overall understanding of the TSC’s role and responsibilities, we reviewed legislative materials related to the TSC’s creation and watchlisting requirements, prior audit reports, and various other documents as needed, including financial documents, strategic plans, and staffing reports.

Accuracy and Completeness of Database Records

To obtain an understanding of the TSC’s processes and procedures for ensuring the quality of data ingested into and exported from the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB), we reviewed the TSC’s procedures for processing database nominations and encounters. In addition, we interviewed:

Testing of Watchlist Database Records

As of March 16, 2007, there were 689,613 records in the web-based version of the TSDB. We performed various tests of a limited number of these records, and reviewed related records from the pertinent automated data systems used to store terrorist-related information maintained by the NCTC and FBI, to determine whether the records were accurate and complete, and any record changes were made in a timely fashion. The automated data systems were the TSDB, TSC’s Encounter Management Application (EMA), NCTC’s Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), and the FBI’s Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization File (VGTOF).

In addition to querying the TSDB to identify duplicate records and determining whether records related to 20 FBI requests for removal had been deleted from the TSDB in a timely manner, our tests of judgmentally selected records included:

Finally, we compared information in the TSDB records to watchlisting criteria to determine whether the individuals were nominated for the appropriate watchlists and were assigned an appropriate handling instruction.71

Watchlist Redress

To obtain an understanding of the TSC’s role in the terrorist watchlist redress process and its efforts to reduce watchlist misidentifications, we reviewed the TSC’s redress procedures and the U.S. government’s interagency agreement on terrorist watchlist redress. We judgmentally selected and examined 20 redress complaints reviewed by the TSC Redress Office to evaluate whether the TSC followed its Redress SOP for resolving a redress complaint.

We also conducted interviews with the TSC’s Privacy and Redress Officers, and we reviewed the TSC’s strategic plan to identify any goals related to redress or reducing the incidence and effect of watchlist misidentification. Additionally, to obtain an understanding of the partner agencies’ roles in the redress process and how they coordinate with the TSC, we interviewed representatives from the White House Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, the DHS’s Screening Coordination Office, TSA, and CBP.

From January 2005 through February 2007, 438 redress complaints were referred to the TSC. During this same period, the TSC closed 388 complaints. We performed various analyses of TSC’s redress referral data, including calculating:

  1. 25 of the 51 records were selected from the TSC’s Quality Assurance Tracker, the TSC’s original system for monitoring TSDB records with quality assurance issues. The remaining 26 records were selected from quality assurance tickets, the TSC’s current monitoring system.

  2. The criteria used by the agencies hosting TSDB records are identified in Appendix II.

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