Despite reforms to address the nomination approach to terrorist watchlists, no federal entity is responsible for routinely assessing the impacts of the reforms, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.
The failed terrorist bombing attack on a U.S. airplane in December 2009 exposed weaknesses in how the federal government nominated people for the terrorist watchlist and how agencies screened these people. After the attempted attack, the Department of State revoked hundreds of visas after determining that the individuals could present threat to U.S. security.
While these actions are intended to enhance homeland security, they have also impacted agency resources and the traveling public. New revisions to terrorist watchlists have caused a higher volume of terrorist-related information, adding TSA to the list of federal agencies dealing with a ‘big data‘ problem. This has caused federal agencies to pursue staffing, technology, and other solutions to address challenges in processing the volumes of information.
Since no federal entity is responsible for assessing and collecting terrorist watchlist data, the GAO recommends that the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism may be best positioned to ensure that government-wide assessments are conducted. The GAO recommends the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism should ensure that the outcomes and impacts of agencies’ actions to strengthen nominations and screening processes are routinely assessed.
It’s another sign of how intelligence agencies continue to struggle to assign accountability for new programs in the post-9/11 era.