May 25, 2010

Air-Sea Biometrics

Proposed Rule
Summary

Score: 38 / 60

Additional details
Agency
Department of Homeland Security
Regulatory Identification Number
1601-AA34
Agency Name
Department of Homeland Security
Rule Publication Date
04/24/2008

RULE SUMMARY

DHS established the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology Program (US-VISIT) in accordance with a series of legislative mandates requiring that DHS create an integrated automated entry-exit system that records the arrival and departure of aliens; verifies aliens’ identities; and authenticates travel documents. On January 5, 2004, DHS published an Interim Final Rule in the Federal Register at 69 FR 468 authorizing the Secretary of Homeland Security to require, in part, certain aliens to provide fingerprints, photograph[s], or other biometric identifiers, documentation of immigration status in the United States, and other such evidence as may be required to determine the alien’s identity and whether he or she has properly maintained immigration status while in the United States at the time of departure from the United States. The Interim Rule authorized the establishment of pilot programs at up to 15 air and sea ports of entry to evaluate the implementation of this departure procedure. That evaluation pilot has been completed and this proposed rule would establish procedures for collection of biometrics on air and sea departures by aliens. This rule removes the limit on the collection of this information from the 15 locations of the pilot programs and authorizes implementation at all air and sea ports of entry. This rule requires aliens to provide biometric identifiers at entry to provide biometric identifiers upon departure at any air and sea port of entry at which facilities exist to collect such information.

METHODOLOGY

There are twelve criteria within our evaluation within three broad categories: Openness, Analysis and Use. For each criterion, the evaluators assign a score ranging from 0 (no useful content) to 5 (comprehensive analysis with potential best practices). Thus, each analysis has the opportunity to earn between 0 and 60 points.

Criterion Score

Openness

1. How easily were the RIA , the proposed rule, and any supplementary materials found online?
All are easily found on regulations.gov (four clicks to download). There are no obvious links to the regulation or RIA found on DHS.gov.
3/5
2. How verifiable are the data used in the analysis?
By the agency's own admission, much of the data is unavailable and DHS had to make many assumptions and estimations.
1/5
3. How verifiable are the models and assumptions used in the analysis?
All assumptions and models are thoroughly detailed but not readily verifiable. This is acknowledged in some parts. When sources for assumptions are cited, they tend to be in-house subject matter experts or independent consultants, which are not easily verifiable. Data sources are listed but not linked; some data sources are pointed to only very vaguely (e.g. "FAA website" listed as data source in App. A). The exception is the model followed for break-even analysis, which is well supported with citations from economic literature.
2/5
4. Was the analysis comprehensible to an informed layperson?
The analysis is tough for the layperson to understand but feasible for economists.
3/5

Analysis

5. How well does the analysis identify the desired outcomes and demonstrate that the regulation will achieve them?
4/5
Does the analysis clearly identify ultimate outcomes that affect citizens’ quality of life?
A detailed list of outcomes to be affected is given in a table on p. 71, along with how those outcomes affect citizen life.
5/5
Does the analysis identify how these outcomes are to be measured?
Some, but not all. But those that will not be measured may be impossible to measure.
4/5
Does the analysis provide a coherent and testable theory showing how the regulation will produce the desired outcomes?
The analysis is fairly thorough and includes a table relating strategic objectives of the regulation to desired outcomes.
4/5
Does the analysis present credible empirical support for the theory?
It has support for cost estimates from its pilot program, but much of the benefits relies on theory only.
3/5
Does the analysis adequately assess uncertainty about the outcomes?
A thorough analysis of uncertain outcomes is provided.
5/5
6. How well does the analysis identify and demonstrate the existence of a market failure or other systemic problem the regulation is supposed to solve?
4/5
Does the analysis identify a market failure or other systemic problem?
Overstaying of visas is the basic problem. The RIA relates that to national security and actually decreased immigration because of uncertainty of whether immigrants might overstay.
5/5
Does the analysis outline a coherent and testable theory that explains why the problem (associated with the outcome above) is systemic rather than anecdotal?
Although it's not explicitly stated, the scale of immigration and tracking immigrants makes it clear that it's systemic.
3/5
Does the analysis present credible empirical support for the theory?
The analysis provides various numbers on immigration, costs of monitoring, methods of monitoring, etc.
4/5
Does the analysis adequately assess uncertainty about the existence or size of the problem?
Uncertainty in costs is thoroughly analyzed. Uncertainty in benefits estimation is not addressed even though it is much more uncertain (projections based on aggregated immigration compliance data).
2/5
7. How well does the analysis assess the effectiveness of alternative approaches?
4/5
Does the analysis enumerate other alternatives to address the problem?
A suite of five alternatives is considered.
5/5
Is the range of alternatives considered narrow (e.g., some exemptions to a regulation) or broad (e.g., performance-based regulation vs. command and control, market mechanisms, nonbinding guidance, information disclosure, addressing any government failures that caused the original problem)?
The range is fairly broad: Some alternatives put the cost burden on industry, some on government. Less burdensome alternatives are not really considered, but it's not clear they could have been given the objectives of tracking exit.
3/5
Does the analysis evaluate how alternative approaches would affect the amount of the outcome achieved?
Alternative approaches are discussed with support from the pilot study.
4/5
Does the analysis adequately address the baseline? That is, what the state of the world is likely to be in the absence of federal intervention not just now but in the future?
A baseline is described and evaluated using some assumptions justified by expert opinions.
4/5
8. How well does the analysis assess costs and benefits?
3/5
Does the analysis identify and quantify incremental costs of all alternatives considered?
Most costs are quantified when possible.
4/5
Does the analysis identify all expenditures likely to arise as a result of the regulation?
Most direct expenditures are identified, but there is room for a lot of other consequences that are not discussed (e.g. more immigration by non-monitored paths).
3/5
Does the analysis identify how the regulation would likely affect the prices of goods and services?
"Increased economic activity" is considered a benefit—this is a simple extrapolation of average expenditures by immigrants. There is no analysis of the impacts of changes in immigrant population mix on supply and demand of goods and services.
2/5
Does the analysis examine costs that stem from changes in human behavior as consumers and producers respond to the regulation?
The an analysis does not address this topic.
0/5
If costs are uncertain, does the analysis present a range of estimates and/or perform a sensitivity analysis?
A sensitivity analysis is discussed and presented. Discrete, alternative outcomes and options are considered, though it would be better to present a continuous range.
4/5
Does the analysis identify the alternative that maximizes net benefits?
From the options considered, yes, but there are too many unconsidered options.
3/5
Does the analysis identify the cost-effectiveness of each alternative considered?
Break-even analysis for non-quantifiable benefits is performed, but not so for quantifiable benefits.
3/5
Does the analysis identify all parties who would bear costs and assess the incidence of costs?
It seems to ignore the possibility of diminished demand for travel to the United States as result of rule, as well as alternative (illegal) immigration paths.
2/5
Does the analysis identify all parties who would receive benefits and assess the incidence of benefits?
Benefits seem pretty clearly identified as well as who benefits.
5/5

Use

9. Does the proposed rule or the RIA present evidence that the agency used the analysis?
Although the RIA is thorough and agrees with rule, it seems to have been done after the rule.
1/5
10. Did the agency maximize net benefits or explain why it chose another alternative?
Again, not enough options are considered; of those considered, the agency maximized net benefits.
3/5
11. Does the proposed rule establish measures and goals that can be used to track the regulation's results in the future?
Appendices D and E of the RIA discuss measures to track results and how they relate to the rule.
5/5
12. Did the agency indicate what data it will use to assess the regulation's performance in the future and establish provisions for doing so?
Appendices D and E of the RIA discuss measures to track results and how they relate to the rule.
5/5
 
Total 38 / 60