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According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in its FY2019 Border Security Report, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported accurate information on 37 of the 43 metrics required by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2017.

The report did mention that DHS had “improved the quality of the information in several metrics in the fiscal year 2019 report compared to earlier versions. However, data reliability issues remain - such as DHS not fully disclosing limitations of some metrics - because DHS does not have a process to systematically review the data.”

To resolve these reporting issues, the GAO recommended that DHS “develop and implement a process to systematically review the reliability of data—and communicate limitations identified through this process.”

By law (NDAA), the DHS secretary must submit data for dozens of metrics measuring ‘border security,’ including data to assess how the agency is monitoring the nation’s 6,000 miles of land borders, 95,000 miles of coastline, and 328 ports of entry.

Some of the metrics required to be reported by the DHS include but are not limited to rates of unlawful border crossing encounters, unlawful border crossers apprehended by border sector, and the amount of type of drugs seized at ports.

However, the GAO found that of the 37 metrics reported by DHS, over half of them did not meet the requirements of reporting set by the NDAA. For example, the DHS must submit data on the total estimated number of illegal aliens who successfully cross the southern border and are not caught; instead, the DHS submitted data on the known number of illegal alien ‘gotaways.’

The DHS also failed to produce any data for six individual metrics but added that they have plans to collect data for five of the six unreported metrics for future reports. The GAO said that “a process to systematically review the reliability of data” could have caught a computer error early on that led to an underreporting of illegal entries (by 22%) in FY2017.

For the complete report, please click here.