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Inspection of the Secure Electronic Network
for Travelers' Rapid Inspection

Report Number I-2000-019
June 2000


SENTRI's Performance Measurement Plan
December 1997


SENTRI will develop and maintain an automated land border inspection process which will expedite the legal entry of low-risk border crossers in passenger vehicles while enhancing the security and integrity of the United States borders.

To accomplish this mission SENTRI will define, test, evaluate and use automated technologies and innovative inspectional methods in its Dedicated Commuter Lanes.


The acronym "SENTRI" stands for Secure Electronic Network for Travelers' Rapid Inspection. SBNTRI exists to simultaneously meet two competing goals that the United States Government seeks to achieve at its land border points of entry: 1) minimizing the amount of time it takes for motorists with legitimate business in the Unitcd States to cross over United States borders; and 2) maximizing security measures in place to prevent illegal aliens and contraband from flowing into the United States. SENTRI incorporates the latest electronic and computer technology to the concept of a "Dedicated Commuter Lane" (DCL) which is set apart from other lanes.

This document details performance measurements for the SENTRI System which will quantify SENTRI's achievement of the above two goals. It also describes the performance measurement philosophy and methodology (collectively the PM Plan") employed by the SENTRI Justice Performance Review Laboratory. The SENTRI Justice Performance Review Laboratory (the SENTRI Team) is comprised of the Federal Government employees who conceived and established the first automated, secure inspection lane in the world.

The PM Plan was designed to measure how well the SENTRI system, a combination of procedures and technologies, meets the mission and goals of the SENTRI Team. In this regard, thePM Plan produces measures and statistics that can be used to analyze how well the SENTRI automated inspection system meets the goals stated in its mission statement: improving border integrity and security while simultaneously facilitating the northbound passage of travelers' crossing over our international border with Mexico. The PM Plan achieves this because it measures those aspects of land border port-of-entry operations that are quantifiable. Consequently, the PM Plan provides government managers, Congress, and the American public with a means for evaluating the SENTRI system with quantifiable data in the same manner an auditor would evaluate a business in the private sector.

As such, the PM Plan breaks with past tradition. Government oversight systems have historically monitored activity, not outcomes. Consequently, traditional evaluative models have often failed to measure how well government programs have rated in terms of their service to the public-the government's ultimate customer.

The PM Plan for SENTRI measures outputs and results, and thereby realizes the National Performance Review goal of having new government programs embody a cultural change in the way the Federal government does business. The SENTRI performance measurement scheme focuses attention on a bottom line defined by accountability and responsibility. Therefore, this PM Plan satisfies many of the requirements embodied in the Government Performance Results Act of 1993. All of the following objectives developed by the SENTRI Team, which are detailed below, date back to the two competing Government goals.


The five program objectives established by the SENTRI Lab Team during its formative meetings became the foundation upon which the SENTRI Team designed its PM Plan. Those five program objectives are as follows:

All of the performance measures developed by SENTRY relate back to these overall program objectives.



The individual SENTRY performance indicators measure various aspects of the SENTRI border crossing system. Generally, the indicators or individual measurements fall into three groups: TIME/TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT, BORDER INTEGRITY/ENFORCEMENT, and THE ENROLLMENT PROCESS.

Taken together, the measures allow the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the U.S. Custom Service (Customs) to determine how the SENTRI lane affects port-of-entry operations, border security, and the level of SENTRI's customer satisfaction. Customers, for SENTRI purposes, fall into three groups: DCL users i.e. border crossers enrolled in the SENTRI program who use the DCL); those who cross at the same port-of-entry through non-DCL lanes; and the public at large. The term public encompasses all those interested in the benefits derived from having our federal government maintain a secure border. This includes those in government federal state and local) responsible for law enforcement at or near the border and those interested in establishing and maintaining orderly border crossings.

Because the measurements, m part, indicate product acceptance by SENTRJ customers, the PM Plan produces results that SENTRI project managers can use to modify the SENTRI system to conform with customer needs. The SENTRI PM Plan provides INS and Customs with quantitative results that can be used to improve lane policies and procedures. Indeed, the SENTRY Team has already augmented and improved the SENTRY system based on performance statistics that revealed procedures which needed to be changed to improve the impact SENTRI has on the traveling public.

The SENTRI Process

SENTRI provides a solution for simultaneously achieving two conflicting goals for INS and Customs agents along our southern land border: vigorous law enforcement and expedited inspection of travelers bound for the United States: The INS and Customs examine applicants for participation in the SENTRI lane to ascertain whether they have legitimate reasons to pass over the border frequently and whether or not they pose little or no-risk to the law enforcement interest of the United States. Each time approved participants - 1ow-risk, frequent travelers -approach a bonier checkpoint to cross, SENTRI's electronic devices identify the vehicle and verify the low risk status of those previously cleared to ride in the vehicle. Inspectors confirm, by visually comparing the faces of those in the car to photographs that appear on a computer monitor, the identity of the crossers and their enrollment in SENTRI. In theory, and as lane operations have demonstrated, segregating approved SENTRI vehicles in a lane reserved exclusively for their use, and having much of the inspection process conducted via advanced electronics, significantly speeds the passage of vehicles in the DCLs and enhances the quality of the inspection process in all lanes.

The Goals and Performance Measures

As previously mentioned, the indicators or individual measurements fall into three groups: time/traffic management, border integrity/enforcement, and the enrollment process. The SENTRI Team has established goals and specific performance measurements for each of these categories:


    1. Goals

      Goal I-A: Rapid Primary Processing Time
      Primary Processing Time at SENTRI Dedicated Commuter Lanes will be no less than seven seconds nor more than twelve seconds.

      Primary Processing Time is the time it takes a vehicle from when it begins forward from a stop immediately prior to the inspection booth (next in line) until the vehicle is released and moves from the booth.

      Goal I-B: Reduced Queue Times
      Where adjacent traffic lanes are available for comparison, Queue Time in the SENTRJDCL will be at least 70% less than the queues in the non-DCL lanes for comparable times of day. Where adjacent traffic lanes are not available, Queue Time in the SENTRIDCL will be no more than three minutes.

      Queue Time is the time it takes a vehicle from the first stop it makes in a line of vehicles to when it begins forward from a stop immediately prior to the inspection booth.

      Goal I-C: Quicker Vehicle Processing
      When there Is steadily arriving traffic, the SENTRI DCL primary lane will process twice as many vehicles in a given period of time as will a non-DCL primary lane operating under the same conditions.

    2. Performance Measures

      To determine if SENTRI is attaining these time/traffic goals, the following measurements will be taken:

      • Total Vehicles in both DCL and non-DCL lanes per week
      • Primary Processing Time in both DCL and non-DCL lanes
      • Queue Time in both DCL and non-DCL lanes
      • Number of Vehicles per Hour per in both DCL and non.-DCL lanes

      The table in Appendix A gives greater detail on time/traffic management performance measures for DCLs.

    3. Expected Benefits

      The time savings realized by SENTRI when it meets its goals will have two immediate results, one related to the time saved by the traveling public and one related to time saved by the federal agencies working at the border.

      Time saved by the public
      Users of the SENTRI DCL will save a large amount of time in comparison to the time they would have spent in conventional lane queues. When this time savings is cumulatively expressed as a dollar value; the result will be millions of dollars in time savings for the traveling public who enroll in the SENTRI program. The 1997 EDS Cost/Benefit Analysis contains values for time savings expressed as a dollar value. This Cosl/l3enefit Analysis will be updated annually to reflect changes in the values for time savings.

      SENTRI also expects to show a time savings for non-DCL (conventional) lane users at a port which has a DCL with an enrollment large enough to have a positive impact on the conventional lane queue times. A large DCL enrollment will mean that a significant portion of the traffic that otherwise would have gone through conventional lanes is now segregated to the SENTRI lanes, thereby reducing traffic in conventional lanes. Queue time reductions in conventional lanes with the addition of SENTRI will be compared with pre-DCL queue tames for similar traffic levels The values in the EDS Cost/Benefit Analysis will be used to compute the time savings.

      Time saved by federal agencies
      Customs and INS, the primary border inspectional agencies, will show a savings in inspectional work-hours because SENTRI cur process more vehicles per work-hour than conventional lanes. Staff time made available by this saving can be employed doing more intensive inspections of higher risk traffic in non-DCLs. Measurement will be comparative (vehicles per hour in DCL vs. conventional lanes).

      The expected result of this saving should be an increase in primary processing time since shorter queues and increased inspectional work-hours available should allow for longer, more comprehensive primary inspections without adversely affecting queue time. In addition, additional work-hours available for inspections should result in an increase in the number of secondary inspections referred fiWa the conventional lanes which will enhance enforcement production in these lanes.


    1. Goals

      Goal II-A: Security of SENTRI Lane
      SENTRI will ensure, through a program of informed compliance am! vigorous enforcement efforts, that no unenrolled or otherwise ineligible people or vehicles and no prohibited or restricted goods are allowed through the SENTRI DCL.

      Goal II-B: Enhanced Security in Non-DCLs
      SENTRI will, by coordinating its efforts with local FJS port management and by sharing its methods and technologies, enable the higher-risk non-DCL traffic to be more intensively examined.

    2. Performance Measures

      To determine if SENTRI is attaining these border integrity/enforcement goals, the following measurements will be taken:

      • Number of DCL Random Secondary Compliance Examinations
      • Secondary Referrals by Inspector - DCL and non-DCL
      • Secondary Referrals by SENTRI - No Tag, 'Hits', etc.
      • Blitzed Vehicles - DCL and non-DCL
      • COMPEX Referr4s - DCL and non-DCL
      • Enforcement Actions - DCL and non-DCL (Seizures, etc., as a result of referrals.)

      The table and attached notes in Appendix B give greater detail on border integrity/enforcement performance measures for DCLs.

    3. Expected Benefits

      There are two expected results from meeting the goals of enforcement and border integrity. One concerns the operation of the Dedicated Commuter Lane and the other concerns all of the other non-DCL lanes at the same port as the DCL.

      Expected benefit I. the DCL: Decreasing Numbers of Violations As the SENTRI population matures, there will be no major violations and a continuing decline in the number of minor violations in the DCL. DCL users will realize that SENTRI continually enforces all laws, rules and regulations even though it processes vehicles more rapidly than conventional lanes. Informed compliance Mill increase as lane users modify their behavior to reflect the high level of enforcement awareness in the DCL Measurement will involve tracking both the level of enforcement activity and the number of actions resulting from this activity.

      Expected benefit in the nom-DCL lanes:
      Increased Enforcement Activity Expanded and continuing use of the SENTRI DCL will reduce queue times and free inspectors to do increased intensive inspections. This increase in the number of intensive examinations should result in increased enforcement production at all levels. Measurement will be done by comparing pre-DCL and current levels of enforcement activity and resulting actions for periods of similar traffic volumes.


    1. Goals

      Goal III-A: Thorough Application Process
      The SENTRI enrollment process will define an applicant as a low-risk border crosser by rigorously examining each applicant's background to determine verifiable residence and employment status, lack of a disqualifying criminal history or prior border violations, admissibility to the US.. and adequately explained reasons frequent border crossings.

      The SENTRI application process will ensure that each applicant accepted for the program will:

      • Have no disqualifying criminal record, as verified by a fingerprint check on all applicants over the age of 14, including no disqualifying record of violations of Customs or INS law or regulations;
      • Have a verifiable residence and employment status;
      • Be admissible to the US., under US. Immigration and Nationality laws;
      • Satisfy an INS or Customs Officer, in a personal interview, that their documentation and the information provided on the application are truthful and valid, and that there are no other bars to their acceptance into (be SENTRI program;
      • Have a legally registered vehicle which passes an initial inspection by Customs.

      Measurement for Goal III-A will be by periodic audits of selected records to determine if the above criteria have been met.

      Goal III-B: Accurate Data Entry
      SENTRI will ensure that all data used in the enrollment process is accurately recorded in the permanent records.

      Measurement for Goal III-B will be by periodic audits of selected records to determine the level of data quality in the permanent records.

      Goal III-C: Efficient Resource Use
      SENTRI will employ the personnel and materials in the enrollment center in a manner designed to make tile most efficient use of available resources.

      Measurement for Goal III-C will be work units. (For example, staff-hours available, the time required to complete an application, etc.) Standards for the work-hours it should take to process an application and give the applicant an answer about his/her admission t~ the program (and other work) will be compared against actual performance times to determine if this goal is being met.

      Appendix F is a sample SENTRI Enrollment Rejection report which details some of the reasons why an applicant may be denied admission to the SENTRI program.

      Goal III-D: SENTRI Program Promotion
      With guidance and assistance from the SENTRI team, local SENTRI/DCL offices will market the SENTRI program to border crossers in their area in order to bring enrollment In their program to an optimal number of enrollees.

      Goal III-D will be measured in terms of annual percentage increases in the number of SENTRI program enrollees until an optimal number of persons are enrolled in the program. The optimal number of enrollees for each site will be determined locally based on criteria developed at the site and modified to reflect traffic distribution and other relevant factors.

      Goal III-E: Enrollment Integrity
      The SENTRI enrollment process will be performed in such a way that no one employee us ever solely responsible for the admission of an individual into the program.

      The necessary parts of the investigation/interview/enrollment for an individual's admittance to the SENTRI program will be done, whenever possible, by as many different people as is possible. A check off sheet will be used to show which employees performed which stops of the enrollment process. Key functions, critical to the enrollment process, will be identified and no one employee will do more than one key function in any given enrollment. SENTRI will audit the process regularly to insure compliance.

    2. Performance Measures

      To determine if SENTRI is attaining these enrollment process goals, the following measurements will be taken:

      • Percentage of accepted applicants who actually meet enrollment criteria in audit
      • Percentage of applicant computer records with same information as paper records in audit
      • Percentage of applications processed within target processing time
      • Annual percentage increase of total SENTRI enrollees

    3. Expected Benefits

      Identification of Low-Risk Population
      Because of the extensive background checks, personal histories and interview; the enrollment process can identify a true low-risk population. The first result of this is an increased trust factor for those who will use the lane, allowing SENTRI to meet its goals for time and enforcement, The second result of this is that, by taking a large number of low-risk travelers out of the conventional lanes, SENTRI makes it easier for targeting willful violators in the conventional lanes.

      Increased Informed Compliance
      The enrollment process explains all pertinent laws, rules and regulations to the enrollee. This results in a much higher degree of informed compliance, which in turn increases the trust factor of those in the DCL.

      Greater Cooperation between Customs and INS
      Customs and INS inspectors work together in the enrollment center, performing a full range of duties. This means that each inspector does work related to the other agency - much more so than normally happens at the border. Inspectors who work in the DCL, and 'who periodically rotate to other assignments, carry with them a greater understanding of the mission and the work of the other agency, and are more sympathetic to the work being done by the other agency. The result is an ever-increasing cooperation between Customs and INS.

    4. Proposed Audit Procedures

      The SENTRI Team or an outside contractor will perform periodic audits at the SENTRI enrollment centers in which selected records will be rated to ensure the accuracy, integrity, and efficiency of the process. An audit will also initially determine or update local work-unit standards; and will analyze the work flow and report on the condition of the equipment at the Enrollment Center.

      There will be three levels of audits:

      1. Each site will run a weekly check to verify that all new enrollments have a completed file. Also, random spot-checks will report on the overall performance of the Enrollment Center, looking briefly at all stated goals.
      2. Quarterly audits will do an intensive examination of a limited, but statistically valid, number of records and will thoroughly review the overall functioning of the Enrollment Center.
      3. An Annual Audit will be an intensive examination of the full functioning of the Enrollment Center, and will include a review of the goals and the measurement collection methods/records of the entire Dedicated Commuter Lane.


There arc two significant results which flow from the interrelation of the three groups of goals: Increased Informed Compliance and Enhanced Enforcement Capability.

Increased Informed Compliance
Informed Compliance, a necessary goal in improved Border Integrity/Enforcement, is also an integral part of the Enrollment process. By assuring that enrollees are fully informed of border regulations and prohibitions at the time of enrollment, SENTRI ensures a more compliant population than in non-DCLs. This is based on the observed phenomenon that almost all border crossers will comply with laws and regulations if they know what those laws and regulations are. Willful violators, or those who knowingly break the law, are a very small part of all border crossers. For example, at Otay Mesa, there were 5,075,279 vehicle crossings from November 1995 through April 1997. During that same period, there were 540 recorded narcotic seizures-only one seizure for every 9,400 vehicles. There is no way of knowing the total number of vehicles carrying narcotics which crossed at Otay Mesa during that period. However, COMPEX, a Customs program designed to measure compliance in the general border-crossing population, verifies that general compliance Is very high, often exceeding 99%.

SENTRI enrollees are fully informed of applicable laws and regulations that pertain to border crossings and are entrusted with the special privileges of participation in the SENTRI program. Any SENTRI participant who abuses these privileges by willfully violating laws and regulations pertaining to crossing the border will have his/her membership in the program revoked, without exceptions.

Enhanced Enforcement Capability
As previously mentioned, SENTRI DCLs can process more vehicles per hour than conventional lanes. This quicker vehicle processing time in SENTRI lanes frees up inspector work hours which can be reallocated to more intensive inspections of non-DCL traffic. This results in enhanced enforcement capability in the non-DCL lanes and increases border integrity at ports with a D%.

This enhanced enforcement capability in non-DCL lanes will increase as enrollment in the SENTRY program increases. As a greater percentage of border crossers come through SENTRI lanes, inspectors will be able to focus more of their attention on the higher risk traffic in non-DCLs. It is the goal of SENTRI to maximize the effectiveness of the program by enrolling the optimal number of participants and ensuring, through effective enrollment processes, that these participants remain low-risk and compliant.


Measurement StandardDCL /non-DCLDefinition of StandardUnit of MeasureMethod of collection
Total Vehiclesnon-DCLTotal number of vehicles entering through the particular port which do not come through the DCL EACH: Week/Total is the sum of all vehicles for the week Automatic Lane Counters
DCLTotal number of vehicles entering through the particular poll which come through the DCL EACH: Week/Total is the sum of all vehicles for the weekComputer in DCL tracks lane count
Primary Processing Timenon-DCLIn both DCL & non-DCL, the time it takes for a vehicle to complete inspection, from a stop immediately prior to the booth until the vehicle is released and moves from boothSECONDS: In both DCL/non-DCL, week/total is the average primary process time per vehicle for the weekSamples measured at random times on each day, averaged for the day
Queue TimeNon-DCLIn both DCL and non-DCL, the time it takes a vehicle to move from the first stop it makes in a line to when it stops immediately prior to the booth (enters Primary Processing) MINUTES: In both DCL/non-DCL, week/total is the average queue time per vehicle for the week Samples measured at random times on each day, averaged for the day
Vehicles per hour per laneNon-DCLIn both DCL and non-DCL, the number of vehicles per hour per lane. Comparisons will be made on an hour by hour basis and on a daily basis.The non-DCL average will be the total number of vehicles in a given time period divided by the number of open lanes in that same period.EACH: Average number of vehicles per lane per hour non-DCL: Customs daily shift reports
DCLDCL: SENTRI database report
DCL Random Secondary Compliance ExaminationsDCLThe DCL computer system generates secondary referrals designed to measure compliance EACH: Week/Total is the sum of all vehicles for the The DCL computer tracks the totals
Secondary Referrals
by Inspector
DCLA vehicle is referred for a secondary inspection b~ an inspector, for cause, and disregarding any automated system approval EACH: Week/Total is the sum of all vehicles for the week tracked by DCL staff
Non-DCLWritten referral slips
Secondary Referrals
by SENTRI (Hits)
DCL A vehicle is referred for secondary inspection by the SENTRI system, for cause BACH: Week/Total is the sum of all vehicles for the week The DCL computer system tracks the # of Hits
Blitzed Vehiclesnon-DCL A group of vehicles selected for rapid secondary inspection by K-9l inspector team EACH: Week/Total is the sum of all vehicles blitzed for the week Statistics logged and collated by blitz teams
COMPEX ReferralsDCL TECS/Compex generates random secondary referrals designed to measure compliance EACH: Week/Total is the sum of all vehicles for the week Random exams are selected/counted by TECS
Enforcement Actions-
(see Notes)
DCL An enforcement action occurs when an SAS 151 is created for a violation (each violator is one action)-or-when a DCL user's privilege is revoked for cause BACH: Week/total is the sum of all violations for the week Tracked by DCL Staff
non-DCLTECS tracks the number of 151's