GAO declares INS systems unreliable

GAO declares INS systems unreliable

By Preeti Vasishtha

GCN Staff

JUNE 5—The Immigration and Naturalization Service does not know how long it takes to process aliens' applications because its systems contain unreliable data, the General Accounting Office said today in a report.

What's more, INS district offices lack tracking systems for many types of applications, GAO said in Immigration Benefits: Several Factors Impede Timeliness of Application Processing.

INS each year denies thousands of applicants adjustments in their employment authorization status because of bad data, the congressional investigational agency found. The result, GAO said, is that applicants' work authorizations are mistakenly revoked.

GAO said the chief problem is that INS lacks an automated case management and tracking system for applications other than those for naturalization. The service cannot determine the size and status of pending applications, application processing times, operations bottlenecks or staff deployment needs, the report said.

Also, INS' lengthy processing times mean the service does not finish work on cases within the 15-month period for which complementary FBI fingerprint and criminal history checks are valid, it said. The service then must incur additional time and expense to refingerprint applicants.

Agreeing with the GAO report, INS said it is examining plans to modify its systems, re-engineer its processes, restructure its staff and electronically maintain fingerprint data.

The service has taken actions to improve its applications processing, but it's too early to gauge results, GAO said.


  • business meeting (Monkey Business Images/

    Civic tech volunteers help states with legacy systems

    As COVID-19 exposed vulnerabilities in state and local government IT systems, the newly formed U.S. Digital Response stepped in to help. Its successes offer insight into existing barriers and the future of the civic tech movement.

  • data analytics (

    More visible data helps drive DOD decision-making

    CDOs in the Defense Department are opening up their data to take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that help surface insights and improve decision-making.

Stay Connected