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.

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