I was fortunate enough to attend the joint announcement yesterday ay JFK International Airport with CBP and the Dutch government of the FLUX Alliance, the new joint international trusted traveler program. The brand name links CBP’s Global Entry program and the Dutch Privium program into a unified application process with reciprocal privileges for U.S. and Dutch citizens. It’s a great development.
First, governments must accelerate developments to facilitate low-risk, frequent travelers willing to be vetted continuously for security risks, and the policy deliberations between governments sharing law enforcement information are complicated and messy. Hopefully FLUX will be the first step on a web of such programs around the world between cooperative governments. Second, the message – we want travelers to come to the U.S. – is essential in these tough economic and diplomatic times. Yesterday’s announcement was unfortunately four years after then-Secretary Ridge’s agreement to a FLUX-like program with the Dutch that fell into a policy cul-de-sac while the new Chertoff team deliberated about a series of travel and identification programs. The good news is that the actual date ended up falling on the 400th anniversary of the Dutch exploration under British explorer Henry Hudson so yesterday’s event had a little more symbolism than normal.
CBP has now made it about halfway down a checklist for the launch of Global Entry, with enrollment available, 7 operational locations up and running, and the first international partnership in place. Still on the to-do list: 1) Agreement between the DHS General Counsel and OMB on the formal regulatory framework for Global Entry; 2) expansion to 13 additional airports to create a critical mass of useful locations; 3) combining Global Entry with land border trusted traveler programs and the US-Canadian Air Nexus program; 4) allowing private sector registered traveler firms to submit applications on behalf of their hundreds of thousands of members who have already provided most of the information necessary for Global Entry; 5) more creative marketing including enrollment at trade shows and corporations and working with the existing registered traveler marketplace on marketing; 6) using multiple biometrics like iris scanning at the kiosks to alleviate the occasional delays for enrollees whose fingerprints cannot be confirmed; and 7) additional international agreements with the UK, Germany, the APEC trading region, and hopefully other countries.
Kudos to CBP’s Acting Commissioner Jay Ahern and Director of Trusted Traveler Programs John Wagner for their dogged efforts to make FLUX a reality, and they are itching to make 2009 the year when international trusted traveler programs really become an integral part of CBP’s facilitation and security mission.