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Inspection of the Secure Electronic Network
for Travelers' Rapid Inspection

Report Number I-2000-019
June 2000


Office of the Inspector General's Analysis of Management's Response

On April 14, 2000, the Inspections Division sent copies of the draft report to the Justice Performance Review (JPR). JPR responded by memorandum from the Director dated June 16, 2000 (Appendix XIV).

In our exit conference, both the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and JPR contended that the Northern border sites included as part of our inspection should not be considered true SENTRI sites, but rather as automated Dedicated Commuter Lanes that use some, but not all, SENTRI technology. Throughout the course of our inspection, we collected and carefully reviewed a significant amount of documentation that indicated that both the Northern and Southwest border sites were implemented and managed collectively as part of the INS SENTRI program. Our evidence on this point includes congressional testimony by the Commissioner, the Commissioner's Performance Goals for FY 1999, the 2000 Reinvention Impact Goals, the October 1999 INS Automation Initiatives Report, the official INS website, and our interviews with many INS headquarters and field officials. Moreover, in its official response to our report, INS wrote that, "The [INS Headquarters Office of Policy and Planning] acknowledges that the DCLs along the northern border that utilize SENTRI technology have been reported as SENTRI sites," (see Appendix XII).

While the subject of our report is the INS SENTRI program, which includes both Northern and Southwest border sites, we recognize that only sites along the Southwest border are affiliated with JPR. Therefore, in response to JPR concerns raised during our exit conference, we agreed to add language in our report clarifying that the Northern border SENTRI sites are not a part of JPR's reinvention laboratory program (see pages 4 and 8). Where appropriate, careful distinctions were also made in our report to ensure that operating statistics were not combined between the Southwest and Northern border SENTRI sites. For example, in analyzing SENTRI's impact on commuter wait times, we consider operating statistics from Otay Mesa and the Peace Bridge separately from one another and we reach separate conclusions for each site based on these statistics (see pages 11-14). In other instances, however, our report identifies several issues that were found to exist for sites along both the Southwest and Northern borders, including: the need for additional quality control measures to ensure the integrity of SENTRI's enrollment data; the inadequacy of SENTRI's current user fee; and the fact that SENTRI's overall operations have not been fully evaluated. Because no distinction had been made by INS between the Northern and Southwest border sites at the time of our inspection, we do not believe it was inappropriate for us to group these sites together in instances where similar or crosscutting issues were identified.

We visited the only two sites in operation at the time of our inspection, Otay Mesa, near San Diego, California, and the Peace Bridge, in Buffalo, New York. We also visited San Ysidro, near San Diego, California, where SENTRI's operation has been indefinitely delayed. We did not visit El Paso, Texas, or the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, Michigan, because both these sites became operational only after our fieldwork had already been completed. Nevertheless, we interviewed port officials responsible for implementing SENTRI at both these sites. We also included El Paso in our evaluation of INS methods for selecting new SENTRI sites (see page 28).

INS concurred with each of our eight recommendations and, based on our report, has also agreed to take steps to distinguish between sites along the Northern and Southwest borders. We believe these recommendations will help INS better manage the SENTRI program at both existing and future sites and we stand by our inspection methodology.