Trusted Travelers: GAO Urges Stronger Enrollment

business travelerReporting solid growth in trusted traveler programs, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is urging improvements in enrollment processes. The GAO says as of January 2014, there were about 2.5 million people enrolled in U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) four trusted traveler programs—which provide expedited travel for preapproved, low-risk travelers and cargo—and enrollments more than quadrupled over the past 5 fiscal years.

About 43 percent of trusted travelers were enrolled in Global Entry, operating at select air ports of entry (POE) and about 38 percent were enrolled in NEXUS, operating at northern border POEs, GAO says in a recent report. 

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Trusted traveler entries into the United States increased from fiscal years 2009 through 2013. For example, entries through lanes for the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) program, operating at southern border POEs, increased from 5.9 million to 12.6 million vehicles.

"CBP has designed and implemented trusted traveler enrollment processes, but could improve key areas to enhance and assess consistency and efficiency in those processes," GAO says.

GAO recommended that CBP improve application processing times, establish a mechanism to document types of interview questions asked and document information on foreign countries' procedures.