One-Stop Inspection System Speeds the Entry of International Travelers

Gao ID: GGD-82-62 March 22, 1982

GAO observed and monitored tests of new Federal inspection systems designed to speed the entry of international travelers. The system tested featured a one-stop inspection conducted before the passengers claimed their baggage, rather than the traditional two-stop process.

Enforcement concerns of the Federal inspection agencies are the: (1) admissibility of individuals seeking entry into the United States; (2) collection of revenue on imported products and interdiction and seizure of contraband; (3) enforcement of more than 400 provisions of law for 40 Federal agencies; and (4) prevention of entry of diseased or infected plants, foods, and animals. A previous system was used whereby citizens with passports bypassed the immigration inspection and underwent customs inspections performed by officials from one or more Federal agencies. Under the one-stop system, one inspector conducted the inspection for all agencies and separated the travelers requiring detailed inspection from the majority that did not. The tests demonstrated that the one-stop system sped the entry of international travelers in comparison with prior systems and resulted in a more efficient use of inspectors. Seizures of merchandise, drugs, and currency increased at one test site and decreased at the other; thus, the impact of the one-stop system on law enforcement activities was unclear. GAO stated that the new system is an improvement over past systems but that it could also be improved. Although the testing and implementation of an alternative system is part of the solution to handling the increasing number of travelers, other factors need to be considered, including Federal staffing resources, Federal inspection facilities, and problems caused by the arrival of large numbers of travelers at the same time.

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