THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
MIAMI INTERNATIONAL TO BE DESIGNATED "REINVENTION LAB" Improved Passenger Processing Will Free Resources for More Critical Needs, Allow MIA To Upgrade Law Enforcement, Eliminate Unnecessary Regulations
In an effort to upgrade critical law enforcement functions and improve services for international travelers, Vice President Al Gore's National Performance Review office today (8/30) designated Miami International Airport (MIA) as a federal "reinvention lab." The new status will allow MIA to increase safety at the U.S. borders, eliminate unnecessary federal regulations and reduce cumbersome paperwork for travelers.
"Protection and enforcement at our nation's borders is our primary concern," said Vice President Gore who heads the effort to create a government that works better and costs less. "At the same time, I believe we can and must look at new systems, procedures, and technologies that will improve enforcement and service for hundreds of millions of citizens and visitors to the United States each year."
MIA is the second busiest international gateway to the United States with nearly 30,000 daily arrivals during peak times. At its current rate of growth, it could become the busiest U.S. port-of-entry in two years, prompting the need for long-term law enforcement and process improvements.
Several weeks ago, airport operations scheduling combined with passenger processing problems caused delays of up to three hours at one of MIA's concourses.
Designating MIA as a "reinvention lab" allows the U.S. Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, local government and airport officials, and airline representatives to cut bureaucratic red tape, test run new methods, and waive restrictive procurement and personnel procedures. The goal is to create new systems of passenger and cargo processing that will significantly shorten the amount of time it takes to pass through Customs Service checkpoints while at the same time strengthening law enforcement and safety at our nation's borders.
For example, MIA Customs Service has proposed to target inspections more effectively by upgrading a computer system that checks passengers' names against a list of drug traffickers, terrorists, and smugglers. Those who are identified on the computer as requiring additional inspection will be singled out for more thorough enforcement procedures. MIA also has proposed reorganizing and improving its system of lines so that passengers who are not entering the United States do not wait unnecessarily.
As a "reinvention lab," MIA will have the flexibility to consider a variety of proposals and implement selected ones to see whether they are effective.
Specifically, the MIA "reinvention lab" will comprise the Customs Service, INS, the Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the State Department's Passport Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. and foreign airlines, the Airline Management Council of South Florida, the Dade County Aviation Department, and airport-airline employee representatives.
The team will consider several short-term (to be implemented within 18-24 months) streamlining recommendations including:
increasing capabilities to pre-select high-risk travelers for screening;
working with the airline industry to improve quality and quantity of data on passengers arriving at MIA;
establishing inter-agency rover and passenger analysis units;
eliminating unnecessary work processes, forms, duplicative data collection.
When removed from the straightjacket of rigid rules forced on them by Washington, employees on the front lines have come up with good solutions to the bad situations they're often forced to work with," said NPR Project Director Bob Stone who announced the designation of MIA as a "reinvention lab" at the airport's Federal Inspection Service Processing Area today. "That's exactly what the MIA 'reinvention lab' will do."
He said MIA's successes could be implemented in other U.S. ports-of entry after the anticipated 18-24 months of testing in the "reinvention lab" program.