Last week, I was joined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Field Operations Christopher Maston at the opening of the new DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Maryland Test Facility (MdTF) in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Many critical pieces of the S&T Apex Air Entry/Exit Re-Engineering (AEER) Project will be conducted at the MdTF — the next step toward meeting CBP’s need to enhance its entry and exit processes at U.S. ports of entry.
Apex programs were developed in part to allow S&T to work collaboratively with other DHS components to solve problems of significant strategic importance. The S&T Apex AEER project is a cohesive, seamless approach, conducted in partnership with CBP, to integrate biometrics within the entry and exit processes at U.S. ports of entry. The MdTF enables S&T to evaluate, assess, and leverage multiple biometric devices and proposed technologies with current or reengineered CBP operational procedures in order to develop and test new methods without impacting the traveling public, or CBP officers’ daily missions.
To accurately evaluate the performance of biometric devices in operational environments, the MdTF will simulate several operational airport setting scenarios outfitted with a variety of biometric implementations, such as a primary inspection station, entry booth, and boarding gate departure area. At the MdTF, S&T’s scientists will study, develop, and test these procedures and processes, and then pass our recommendations back to CBP for consideration and future implementation. Working together with CBP, we will test and incorporate all aspects of the technology and new procedures with volunteer participants from throughout the National Capital Region.
In addition to fulfilling multiple operational goals, the S&T Apex AEER program is a clear demonstration of what can be achieved under Secretary Johnson’s Unity of Effort initiative—ensuring the Department invests and operates in a cohesive, unified fashion, while making decisions that are transparent and collaborative. Just over a year ago, CBP approached S&T for assistance in achieving the Congressional mandate for biometric exit, as well as reengineering international entry and exit processes. S&T is honored to work with our CBP colleagues toward achieving these important goals, including opening the MdTF last week.
I am proud of the teamwork displayed by S&T and CBP over the past year of MdTF development, and I look forward to continuing our work together to develop a faster, safer, and more efficient entry and exit operation for our ports of entry to better serve the millions of travelers who travel through them each day.