Model Ports of Entry
Due to a growing perception among international travelers that the United States has one of the world’s worst entry systems, In January 2006, then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and then Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff created a pilot “model airport” program to reduce passenger processing wait times and establish a more welcoming environment at inspection areas. In 2007, Congress fully authorized a Model Ports Program and appropriated $40 million to expand it to the 20 U.S. airports with the highest number of inbound international visitors and hire no fewer than 200 new Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at those model airports. Since the program’s creation, DHS has initiated several improvements to expedite and enhance passenger processing, including installing flat-screen monitors in the processing area to educate passengers about the screening process and establishing a new professionalism program to improve customer service training for its officers.
U.S. TRAVEL POSITION
The creation of the Model Ports of Entry Program has helped shed light on the fact that security and customer service are not mutually exclusive, however, measurable improvement to reduce wait times for international arrivals and to create a more welcoming environment at U.S. ports of entry have been limited. U.S. Travel believes officials must take several steps to perpetuate the success and effectiveness of the program. CBP officers must make adjustments to the staffing allocation model to improve the efficiency of passenger processing. Officials must also establish customer service and professionalism training standards and metrics, as well as a set of best practices to share across all 20 Model Ports.