09 January 2010

Your Tax Dollars At Work (USA ONLY)


So Mr Obama has decided that there was a systematic and potentially catastrophic failure of the US security system. But Dear Janet (Napolitano) seems to know that while its a problem - don't worry the Government knows how to fix it. (Remember she changes her tune every 5 minutes). There is no need to panic because the issues are straight forward to fix. Right?

NO WRONG. FIXING THINGS ON A WHITE BOARD IS NOT THE ANSWER. There is still a significant and continuing problem that the President has not either been advised on or has failed to see. Either way - we are STILL AT RISK and all that has happened is another SET OF PLASTERS (Band aids) has been applied to the same problem.

But if I may I would like to point out the various issues that we as regular flyers in the USA face. Surely this is a contributing factor?

So here goes.

There are several programs administered by the Dept of Homeland and Security and its various agencies - TSA, CBP, CIS etc etc). For the TSA which is responsible for domestic protection - the main effort is SecureFlight. A program so successful that the only company qualified to offer it went bankrupt. But wait there is more. Indeed there are different programs for Domestic Travellers, Inbound Travellers and Outbound Travellers:
TSA based
* Registered Traveler (TSA)
* Secure Flight Program (TSA)
* Terrorist Screening Center (FBI)
Global Entry (TSA)
* NEXUS (US+Canada)
* SENTRI (?)
* FAST (US + Mexico)

Then if things go wrong there are different ways to address the problem of a person being denied entry into the USA.

These include:
* Request review or waiver of ineligibility to enter U.S.
o Canadian Citizens (CBP)
o Canadian Citizens (USCIS) or
o Non-Canadians (State Department)

So far I count at least 6 agencies involved in the process. 6 separate agencies with their respective government infrastructures. Multiple ways to get things wrong. 6 political processes to be reviewed... etc etc. spread across at least three Government Departments. How can they possibly keep things in sync???

Now we can add another component to the program in that US Border States (north and south) have programs that let you use an enhanced drivers license for entry into the programs (at least one or more).

So the issue for me here is that if I am trying to be a trusted person and a member of the good guys brigade how can I do that? Actually one of the best ways to do this is to get stopped by the TSA (or one of the legion of different programs). Then you can apply for a Redress to get yourselves fully vetted and then you will be cool.

Pity poor people like several of my relatives who have weird names.

So PLEASE Mr Obama if you REALLY want to avoid a systematic and endemic failure in the system you should look at the base of the pyramid.

We are supposed to have a multi-layered approach to security. Instead we have a compartmentalized approach to security. Driven by that same old bureaucratic Washington quango process that has driven us all nuts for so long... and contributed to the failures that led to the NW253 incident in the first place.

Lets start by having a sense of rationality and streamlining of the process. Money seems to be no object so at least lets get the architecture and the design right NOW WHILE WE CAN. Because I believe at the moment we have a very large truck through which bad people can drive a large amount of bad things through.

Finally perhaps the Government should stop listening to the big defense contractors and start paying attention to the electorate. I would say the electorate is one heck of a lot smarter than the defense contractors.

'Nuf said?


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