House Dems slam homeland security progress

The Bush administration is failing to implement the technology-related recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and falling short on other homeland security priorities, Democrats of the House Homeland Security Committee said in a new report.

The 9/11 Commission, a bipartisan panel that analyzed homeland security following the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2001, issued its final recommendations July 22, 2004. The advice covered a range of topics, including improving preparedness and response, strengthening intelligence, increasing congressional oversight, protecting privacy and building information-sharing against terrorism.

The Democrats identified ongoing problems at airports with passenger screening against terrorist watch lists; explosive detection technologies; radio spectrum for first responders; and fingerprint screening systems. The commission addressed all technology related areas, the new report said.

For example, the report faults DHS' Customs and Border Protection and the FBI for lack of interoperability between their respective fingerprint identification systems. The customs agency uses two fingerprints, while the FBI database uses 10.

"Committee Democrats have also repeatedly called for requiring connectivity between the IAFIS and Ident databases used for watch-listing purposes at the FBI and CBP, respectively," the report said.

The Democrats also criticized the Transportation Security Administration for delays in completing the testing phase of its airline-passenger prescreening program, known as Secure Flight. Many Democrats have supported legislation to ensure DHS begins using technology to check U.S.-bound foreign passengers against terrorist watch lists before their flights depart, the report said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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