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Follow-Up Audit of the Immigration and Naturalization Service's Airport Inspection Facilities
Report No. 03-10
Office of the Inspector General
Prior to February 2002, the most important design, construction and security requirements were contained in the following Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and INS publications and policy memoranda:
In February 2002 the INS published the Air Ports-of-Entry Technical Requirements (ATR) with technical assistance from the INS's Offices of Inspections, Facilities and Engineering, Operations, Information Resource Management, and Security. These requirements were published to assist architects, engineers, and planners in designing, building and renovating INS inspection facilities at international airports. The ATR includes requirements found in earlier publications as well as newly promulgated requirements for the secondary inspection area, interview rooms, search rooms, Joint Agency Coordination Center (JACC)/INS Coordination Center (ICC), and in-transit lounges (ITL). In February 2002, the INS provided the finalized ATR to the Air Transport Association, American Association of Airport Executives, and Airports Council International.
At our exit conference with the INS, a headquarters Office of Facilities and Engineering official commented that the ATR is used as a yardstick to measure airport compliance with standards. An INS headquarters official also commented that the INS is responsible for border integrity not airport security. However, according to the ATR, the INS has the responsibility to ensure that there are adequate countermeasures in place within the physical security system of the FIS area to maintain border integrity.
Prior Audit Results
In 1999, at the INS's request we conducted an audit of airport inspection and detention facilities (Immigration and Naturalization Service's Airport Inspection Facilities, Report No. 01-03, December 2000). The audit found that inspection areas at 42 international airports were poorly designed and constructed, and had numerous monitoring, surveillance, and communication deficiencies. Hold rooms were too small and did not permit separate confinement of male, female, and juvenile detainees. As a result, airports were vulnerable to illegal entry, escapes, injuries, health hazards, and the hiding or disposing of contraband or documents.
These conditions existed primarily because the INS had not dealt effectively with airlines and airport authorities by enforcing provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act when inspection facilities were unacceptable. We found that the INS had not pursued a program to require upgrading of older inspection facilities, construction took place without the INS's oversight or approval, and the INS's system of on-site reviews needed improvement. In addition, the INS did not have performance measures under the Government Performance and Results Act to measure the adequacy of inspection facilities. Also, by not exercising its authority to impose sanctions where necessary, including restriction of landing station designations, the INS undermined its ability to influence airlines and airport authorities to meet standards.
Our Follow-up Audit
In May 2002, we began our follow-up audit work at the INS headquarters, where we interviewed officials to determine what actions the INS took to implement the recommendations outlined in the prior audit report. We reviewed the INS's latest design and construction standards contained in its recently published ATR. We incorporated, as appropriate, elements from the ATR into a review checklist used to conduct our audit. Examples of features we reviewed are: (1) audible and visual alarms at emergency exits; (2) closed circuit television between access portals and the Joint Agency Coordination Center (JACC); (3) absence of hiding places in corridors; (4) arrival gates configured to ensure that passengers and crew cannot circumvent the inspection process; (5) hold rooms with secure walls and ceilings, (6) interview rooms with emergency call buttons and equipment to record the results of interviews; and (7) command centers with up-to-date communications equipment to monitor and respond to alarms within the FIS area; and (8) in-transit lounges with cameras, locks, and alarms to prevent aliens from escaping.
We performed on-site follow-up reviews at 12 international airports to determine the extent of any modifications resulting from our prior audit. The 12 airports we reviewed (Appendix I, page 20) account for [SENSITIVE INFORMATION DELETED] percent of the international passengers processed through secondary inspection areas during 2001.