INS in holding pattern on entry app

INS wants to install the Entry Exit System at the 50 busiest land ports in the United States by the end of 2004, Robert Mocny says.

Henrik G. DeGyor

Congress' willingness to pass appropriations bills will affect the development of the Immigration and Naturalization Service's Entry Exit System, the project's chief said.

The creation of the proposed Homeland Security Department and new systems requirements in HR 4775, the counterterrorism supplemental appropriations bill passed last month, also will affect the system, said Robert Mocny, deputy assistant commissioner of the INS and director of the Entry Exit Program.

Using the system, INS wants to improve its ability to track individuals entering and leaving the country. The INS Data Management Improvement Act of 2000, which directed the service and the Justice Department to improve data collection and sharing, mandated the system.

INS expected to have awarded a contract for the system by now. But Congress' failure to pass any of 13 appropriations bills and the Office of Management and Budget's decision to suspend systems procurements in agencies slated to become part of Homeland Security led INS to delay the move, Mocny said.

The project cannot move forward until Congress approves the $362 million for the system that the administration sought in its fiscal 2003 budget request. Officials expect the government will operate under a continuing resolution until well into the new year, Mocny said.

As program managers wait for Congress to act, they are carrying out three mandates imposed on INS in the emergency counterterrorism funding bill.

Review time

One requires the agency to scrutinize the system according to OMB's Circular A-11 process, which governs agencies' project planning and budgeting. Another is to develop a detailed cost-benefit estimate, Mocny said. And a third mandates a General Accounting Office review.

Despite likely delays, Mocny said, INS still plans to meet the deadline to begin using the system at airports and seaports by the end of next year.

'By Dec. 31, 2004, we have to have completed the top 50 land ports of entry, and then by Dec. 31, 2005, all other ports of entry,' he added.

There has been a benefit from the slowdown in the procurement process: INS officials have scaled back the frenzied pace of the project, Mocny said. Part of the preparations involve creating an inventory of the databases that will be integrated with the Entry Exit System.

'There are at least 26 databases and possibly as many as 200,' he said.

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