Follow-up Audit of the terrorist Screening Center

Audit Report 07-41September 2007Office of the Inspector General
prior to the establishment of the terror Screening center (TSC), the federal federal government relied on at least a dozen separate terrorist watchlists preserved by various federal agencies. The TSC was produced by Homeland defense Presidential Directive-6 (HSPD-6), signed top top September 16, 2003. In the directive, the TSC was forced to combine the present U.S. Federal government terrorist watchlists and carry out 24-hour, 7-day a week responses for agencies that usage the watchlisting procedure to display individuals who, for example, apply for a visa, effort to enter the United states through a port-of-entry, attempt to travel around the world on a advertising airline, or space stopped by a local regulation enforcement officer for a website traffic violation. HSPD-6 mandated that the TSC attain initial operating capability by December 1, 2003.

The TSC is a multi-agency organization administered by the federal Bureau of examination (FBI). Following the issuance that HSPD-6, the lawyer General, the director of central Intelligence, and the Secretaries the the department of Homeland protection (DHS) and the room of State (State Department) entered into a Memorandum of understanding (MOU) relenten the brand-new organization and also the level of essential cooperation, consisting of the sharing of staff and also information indigenous the four participating agencies. The MOU stipulated the the director of the TSC would certainly report come the Attorney basic through the FBI and also required the the primary Deputy that the TSC it is in an employee of DHS. Since fiscal year (FY) 2004, the participating agencies have actually shared duty for funding and staffing the TSC, and also for FY 2007 the TSC has a spending plan of about $83 million and 408 positions.20

In June 2005, the room of (DOJ) Office that the Inspector basic ( issued an audit report that examined the TSC’s operations from the time of that is inception.21 The reported that although the TSC had actually made far-ranging strides in becoming the government’s single point-of-contact for regulation enforcement authorities requesting aid in identifying individuals with feasible ties come terrorism and had arisen a consolidated terror watchlist database, the TSC had actually not ensured the the info in the database to be complete and also accurate. Because that example, we uncovered instances whereby the consolidated database did not contain names the should have been included on the watchlist. In addition, we discovered inaccurate or inconsistent information related to persons had in the database. In the review, we also found troubles with the TSC’s administration of the information modern technology (IT), an integral component of the terrorist screening process.

TSC public representative attributed several of these deficiencies to the immediate need during the earliest job of the TSC to build a substantial database of possibly high-risk suspects. TSC officials defined that blending different species of data in various layouts from multiple sources with varying technical infrastructures had resulted in data inconsistencies and inaccuracies. In addition, technology challenges and frequent document additions, deletions, and also modifications influenced the TSC’s capability to ensure the top quality of the watchlist data. Our report included 40 references to the TSC addressing locations such together database improvements, data accuracy and also completeness, and also staffing.

The purpose of our existing follow-up evaluation of the TSC to be to identify if accurate and complete records are disseminated to and also from the watchlist database in a timely fashion, as well as to assess the TSC’s present processes because that ensuring the quality of the recognized or suspected terrorist information. Further, us examined the TSC’s efforts to minimization the affect on people misidentified together watchlist subjects.

Purpose that the Consolidated Watchlist

One score of the nation’s counterterrorism efforts is to determine suspected terrorists and also keep them the end of the unified States and from harming U.S. Citizens both in ~ home and abroad. Vital element of these initiatives is the maintain of a consolidated watchlist comprise the name of known and suspected terrorists. This consolidated watchlist should include the many current and complete information and also not save on computer inaccurate, inconsistent, or inappropriate information. Further, similar names and minimal information in the watchlist have the right to impair a frontline screening certified dealer (such together a border patrol officer, visa application reviewer, or local police officer) native distinguishing between a suspected terrorist and a mistakenly established individual. Deficiencies in the terror watchlist information additionally increase the opportunity for a terror to walk unnoticed or not be appropriately handled when encountered. Additionally, poor information rises the possibility of individuals being misidentified together terrorist watchlist subjects and also thereby being detained for more rigorous screening procedures.

Overview that Watchlist Nomination and Screening Processes

when a legislation enforcement or intelligence firm has figured out an individual together a potential terrorist risk to the united States and also wants that individual watchlisted, the resource agency have to nominate that human for consist of in the consolidated watchlist maintained by the TSC. Similarly, as extr information is derived that either enhances the identifying information or indicates that the individual has no nexus come terrorism, the record have to be either updated or deleted.

All nominations from source agencies to the consolidated watchlist room vetted v the FBI or the national Counterterrorism facility (NCTC).22 experts at NCTC or the FBI testimonial the nomination information and decide even if it is or not the human is an ideal candidate because that inclusion ~ above the consolidated watchlist. This review consists of an evaluation of the info supporting the nomination, an check of the quality and accuracy of the identify information, and an examination of whether enough identifying info is available.23 The FBI and NCTC are responsible for giving the TSC an unclassified subset the identifying information for people known or suspected to it is in or have been associated in activities related to terrorism.24

The TSC share the terrorist information included in its terror Screening Database (TSDB) through exporting or sending out data “downstream” to various other screening systems, such together the State Department’s Consular Lookout and Support system (CLASS), DHS’s Interagency Border Inspection mechanism (IBIS), the Transportation defense Administration’s (TSA) No paris list, the FBI’s Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization document (VGTOF) within its national Crime Information facility (NCIC) system, and also others.25 Watchlist info is then obtainable for use by U.S. Legislation enforcement and intelligence officials across the country and around the world.

Personnel functioning for these institutions routinely encounter individuals as component of their continuous duties throughout various government processes. Because that example: (1) DHS agents that the U.S. Customs and also Border security (CBP) agency examine people at assorted U.S. Ports-of-entry and search IBIS to determine if a person can be granted accessibility to the joined States, (2) State department officials process visa applications from non-U.S. Citizen wishing to visit the joined States and search course to determine if the individual should be granted a U.S. Visa, and (3) state and local legislation enforcement officers review the identifying information of individuals encountered v the criminal righteousness system and query the FBI’s NCIC system. In turn, these databases contain terrorist watchlist records so that the federal, state, and also local legislation enforcement screening agents deserve to identify persons that the U.S. Federal government has determined are well-known or suspected terrorists.

review of the circulation of watchlist information from nominating agencies to the TSC and ultimate circulation to downstream screening databases is shown in exhibition 1-1.

EXHIBIT 1-1 terrorist Watchlist Dataflow Diagram26

Source: The national Counterterrorism Center

Screening activities and Hits against the terror Watchlist

when a name shows up to be a match against the terror watchlist, requestors obtain a return post through their database informing them of the preliminary match and also directing lock to call the TSC. Once a contact is received, TSC staff in the 24-hour call facility assist in confirming the subject’s identity.

To perform this, the TSC Call center staff find the TSDB and supporting databases to locate any extr information that may help in do a conclusive identification. The caller is instantly informed that any an adverse search an outcome – such together the topic of the inspection does not enhance the identification of an individual on the watchlist.

In general, if the topic is positively established as a watchlist struggle or the enhance attempt is inconclusive, the TSC call screener forwards the contact to the FBI’s terrorist Screening work Unit (TSOU), the FBI’s 24-hour an international command facility for terrorism prevention operations. The TSOU is climate responsible because that making additional attempts to confirm the subject’s identity and, if necessary, coordinating the regulation enforcement an answer to the encounter, including deploying agents come take appropriate action.

no all encounters space face-to-face. According to State department officials at the TSC, when a person located overseas submits an applications for a visa, State department officials search the course database, i m sorry receives watchlist info from the TSC. If the search reveals a possible identity enhance with an individual recorded in the TSDB, the main sends the TSC a cable (a secure, digital communication). A State room representative in ~ the TSC evaluate the cable along with information indigenous supporting agency databases to identify if the person requesting a visa is one individual with ties to terrorism. This information is then provided by U.S. Federal government officials overseas to either procedure or refuse the application.

TSC conference Management

To regulate information related to “hits” or feasible matches versus the watchlist, called “encounters,” the TSC supplies a software program application, dubbed the Encounter monitoring Application (EMA). This mechanism was enforced in July 2004 and includes a record of all encounters since the beginning of the TSC. EMA includes the details of all incoming calls, consisting of information about the inquiring regulation enforcement agency, the databases the TSC employee searched and the information obtained from these systems, the condition of the TSC’s initiatives to check an identification match versus a watchlist document (i.e., positive, negative, or inconclusive), even if it is the caller was forwarded to TSOU for more action, and also the last disposition the the call. For every inquiry that TSC contact screeners describe the TSOU, the TSC screeners room responsible for obtaining feedback ~ above the disposition of the encounter, such together whether the topic was arrested, questioned, or refuse entry into the unified States.

EMA provides the TSC v the capacity to generate in-depth statistics and also prepare reports for analysis. Day-to-day status reports are generated from EMA identify the certain call information, i beg your pardon is the evaluation by the TSC’s Tactical analytical Team to determine patterns or threaten circumstances. If any such patterns space identified, the TSC forwards this details to the proper intelligence and law enforcement agencies for more review.

As the April 2007, the TSC Call facility had recorded practically 97,000 watchlist encounters referred by screening agencies because its production in December 2003. More than 50 percent the this full resulted in a positive identification match. As presented in exhibition 1-2, 60 percent that the complete calls got by the TSC Call center originated indigenous the U.S. Customs and Border security agency.

Referring agency
exhibition 1-2 Watchlist Encounters referred to the TSC Call facility by company (December 1, 2003, through April 30, 2007)
variety of Referrals Percent of Referrals
DHS – CBP 58,266 60
other Federal 19,965 21
State and also Local 17,967 19
international Government 513 Number of terror Watchlist Records

due to the fact that the development of the TSC in December 2003, the variety of records in the consolidated U.S. Federal government watchlist of well-known or doubt terrorists has considerably increased. Us compiled a summary of obtainable database size information, which illustrates the continued growth the the watchlist.

according to TSC officials, there were around 150,000 documents in the TSDB in April 2004.27 TSC data suggest that by July 2004 the variety of records had increased to about 225,000 records, representing approximately 170,000 distinct terrorist identities. Eighteen months later, in February 2006, the TSC reported the the database contained around 400,000 records. Most recently, info we obtained from the TSC shows that the TSDB included a complete of 724,442 documents as the April 30, 2007. The vast bulk of these records are global terrorist documents – much less than 1 percent of records related to the identities that suspected domestic terrorists. As displayed in exhibition 1-3, the variety of watchlist records consisted of in the TSDB has an ext than quadrupled because its inception in 2004.

EXHIBIT 1-3 number of Terrorist Watchlist Records

Source: analysis of terror Screening facility data

Handling Instructions

Each record within the consolidated watchlist database is designed to contain information around the law enforcement action to it is in taken once encountering an individual on the watchlist. This details is conveyed v two separate “handling codes” or accuse – one dealing with code because that the FBI and one for the DHS.

FBI dealing with Codes - every individual nominated for inclusion in the FBI’s screening database, nationwide Crime details Center’s (NCIC) Violent Gang and also Terrorist Organization paper (VGTOF), is assigned a code used to provide instruction for handling the individual. This codes space assigned based upon whether over there is an energetic arrest warrant, a communication to detain the individual, or an attention in obtaining added intelligence information concerning the individual.28 adhering to are the interpretations for each code.

Handling code 1 -

Handling code 2 -

Handling password 3 - .

You are watching: Am i on government watch list

All records in the consolidated watchlist database that room eligible because that export come VGTOF should have a managing code assigned. Based upon our review, we identified that all eligible records had in the TSDB contained a VGTOF taking care of code. As depicted in exhibition 1-4, the majority of the documents in the TSDB room designated as taking care of Code 3.

exhibition 1-4 distribution of VGTOF dealing with Codes (as of march 6, 2007)29


Source: The terror Screening facility

DHS managing Instructions – each individual nominated for inclusion in the DHS’s screening database is assigned one of three codes that carry out instructions to regulation enforcement officials in ~ ports-of-entry. Follow to TSC officials, each instruction requires the individual to receive added screening. However, one code offers a much less intrusive technique for taking care of known or suspected terrorists because the legislation enforcement officer is directed to not satisfy the individual at the arriving plane and not alert the subject of his or her feasible watchlist status. Based upon our review, we established that all eligible documents in the TSDB consisted of an IBIS managing instruction. As displayed in exhibit 1-5, around 5 percent that the documents in the TSDB that space eligible because that export come IBIS room designated through this special managing instruction.

exhibition 1-5 circulation of IBIS taking care of Instructions (as that April 30, 2007)


Source: The terror Screening Center’s Audit Approach

The missions of this audit to be to: (1) recognize if accurate and also complete documents are disseminated to and from the watchlist database in a stylish fashion; (2) testimonial the TSC’s efforts to for sure the top quality of the info in the watchlist database; and also (3) evaluate the TSC’s efforts to resolve complaints raised by individuals who think they have actually been incorrectly established as watchlist subjects.

To attain these objectives, us interviewed an ext than 45 TSC officials, consisting of the Director, the previous Acting Director and also Deputy Directors, and officials at NCTC, the FBI, and also DHS. In addition, we interviewed participating firm representatives and toured framework to ensure that we derived a detailed understanding the the working relationships utilized, assistance provided, and also communication flow during the terrorist screening process.

To advice the accuracy and completeness of the consolidated watchlist, we divided our review into two separate tracks. First, we analyzed the consolidated database as a whole, consisting of a review of the number of records in the database, any duplication that existed in ~ those records, and also the connected watchlist processes. Second, we tested individual documents within the database because that accuracy and also completeness. This had reviewing a sample of FBI and other government firm nominated domestic and also international terror records and also tracing these records to the TSDB to recognize if the people were had in the database and also that the information was accurate, complete, and consistent. In addition, we likewise checked whether known terrorist names to be in the database.

To assess the TSC’s efforts to for sure the high quality of the info in the watchlist database, we examined the TSC’s high quality assurance activities and reviewed documents subjected to this processes. We also examined the timeliness that the TSC’s initiatives to solve matters arising from its review of the accuracy and completeness of the data. This contained an review of the TSC’s development to conduct a system-wide, record-by-record review and to enhance its quality control processes as a an outcome of references in our previous audit.

To fulfill our 3rd objective, we examined the TSC’s policies and procedures for handling inquiries associated to individuals who raised complaints adhering to their involvement in a screening encounter. This procedure is described as redress. We evaluated the TSC’s efforts to coordinate redress solution efforts with other participating agencies, the review a sample the redress inquiries, and assessed the timeliness of the TSC’s responses to redress inquiries.

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Detailed information about our audit objectives, scope, and also methodology is included in attachment I.