Top Management Challenges in
the Department of
The Office of the Inspector General
(OIG) has developed an annual list of top management challenges facing the Department
of Justice (Department) since 1998. This list of top challenges, originally prepared
in response to congressional requests, is now required by the Reports Consolidation
Act of 2000 to be included in the Department’s annual Performance and Accountability
In light of pending legislation to transfer the Immigration and Naturalization
Service (INS) from the Department to the proposed Department of Homeland
Security, we have not included INS programs in this year’s list of top management
challenges facing the Department. Instead, we have developed a separate
list of top management challenges in the INS. We believe that this approach
will assist the Department of Homeland Security in successfully assimilating
the INS, or the Department in managing the INS should not be transferred.
- Counterterrorism: In the year since the September 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks, the Department has identified preventing, detecting,
and deterring future terrorist acts as the agency’s highest priority.
To this end, the Department and other federal, state, and local government
agencies are attempting to increase communication, share intelligence,
and increase domestic preparedness. In light of the seriousness of
the threat and the significance of the task, counterterrorism is the
top management challenge for the Department.
The first objective in the Department’s Strategic Plan for 2001-2006
is to “Protect America Against the Threat of Terrorism.” The three
strategic objectives under this goal emphasize: 1) prevention and disruption
of terrorist operations before an incident occurs; 2) investigation
of terrorist incidents to bring perpetrators to justice; and 3) prosecution
of individuals who have committed or intend to commit terrorist acts
against the United States. The Strategic Plan notes the challenges
facing the Department as it seeks to effectively manage its counterterrorism
program and avoid gaps in coverage or duplicate services provided by
other law enforcement or intelligence organizations. In addition, the
infusion of billions of dollars to help fund these expanded counterterrorism
efforts presents Department managers with challenges to ensure that
the funds are spent in an efficient and effective manner.
During the past year, the OIG has continued to review Department programs
that relate to the Department’s ability to successfully address these
challenges. For example, the OIG recently audited the Federal Bureau
of Investigation’s (FBI) management of aspects of its counterterrorism
program from 1995 through April 2002. We found that the FBI had
not developed a comprehensive written assessment of the risk of a terrorist
threat facing the United States, despite its statement to Congress
in 1999 that it would. We concluded that such an assessment would have
been useful not only to define the nature, likelihood, and severity
of the threat but also to identify intelligence gaps and determine appropriate
levels of resources to effectively combat terrorism. Further, although
the FBI has developed an elaborate, multilayered strategic planning
system, the system had not established priorities adequately or allocated
resources effectively to the counterterrorism program. Specifically,
the planning system acknowledged a general terrorist threat to the nation,
but the FBI did not perform and incorporate into its planning system
a comprehensive assessment of the threat of terrorist attacks on U.S.
soil. Similarly, the planning system identified numerous vulnerabilities
and weaknesses in the FBI’s capabilities to deal with the general terrorist
threat, but the FBI did not make the fundamental changes necessary to
correct the deficiencies.
The OIG audit also detailed the level of resources that the FBI has
dedicated to counterterrorism and related counterintelligence between
1995 and 2002. The report made 14 recommendations to help improve
management of the FBI’s counterterrorism program, including that the
FBI establish a time goal and a process for building a corps of professional,
trained, and experienced intelligence analysts for assessing and reporting
on threats at both the strategic and tactical levels.
As part of a review of critical infrastructure protection sponsored
by the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE), the OIG
issued a report entitled, “Departmental Critical Infrastructure Protection
Planning for the Protection of Physical Infrastructure” (OIG Report
#02-01). The audit found that the Department’s ability to perform vital
missions is at risk from terrorist attacks or similar threats because
the Department had not planned adequately for the protection of its
critical physical assets. This is the second phase of a four-part review
planned by the PCIE to examine critical infrastructure issues in federal
The Department cannot respond to the counterterrorism challenge alone,
and to this end it provides grants to state and local agencies to enhance
their ability to respond to terrorist acts. In fiscal year (FY) 2002,
the OIG audited the State and Local Domestic Preparedness Grant Program
(OIG Report #02-15) and found that grant funds were not awarded quickly,
and grantees were slow to spend available monies. We also found that
nearly $1 million in equipment purchased with grant funds was unavailable
for use because grantees did not properly distribute the equipment,
could not locate it, or had been trained inadequately on how to operate
A somewhat different but critical challenge for Department employees
in responding to the terrorism threat is to use its law enforcement
and intelligence gathering authorities consistent with the law. The
USA PATRIOT Act directed the Inspector General to “receive and review”
allegations of civil rights and civil liberties abuses by Department
employees. In furtherance of this mandate, the OIG is investigating
several specific allegations of abuse against Department employees.
In addition, the OIG is completing a review of the treatment of non-citizens
detained in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Specifically,
the OIG is examining the access to counsel, timeliness of charging decisions,
and conditions of confinement for non-citizen detainees at the Metropolitan
Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, and the INS contract detention
facility in Paterson, New Jersey.
In FY 2003, the OIG intends to devote significant resources to reviewing
Department programs and operations that affect its ability to respond
to the threat of terrorism. Among the planned OIG reviews are examinations
of: (1) the Department’s counterterrorism fund; (2) the FBI’s
dissemination of intelligence information to federal, state, and local
law enforcement agencies; (3) the effectiveness of multi-component anti-terrorism
task forces; and (4) the FBI’s language program and efforts to hire
linguists. We also will continue to review intelligence-sharing processes
within the Department, a key component in the Department’s counterterrorism
effort and a topic discussed more extensively in the next challenge.
- Sharing of Intelligence and Law Enforcement Information: One
of the key issues arising from the September 11 terrorist attacks is
the importance of sharing intelligence and other law enforcement information
among federal, state, and local agencies. During the past year, the
Attorney General, the FBI Director, and Members of Congress repeatedly
have discussed the importance of information sharing, both to the investigation
of the terrorist attacks and in the government’s efforts to prevent
Ten days after the September 11 attacks, the Attorney General directed
that information exposing a credible threat to the national security
interests of the United States should be shared with appropriate federal,
state, and local officials so that any threatened act may be disrupted
or prevented. In October 2001, the President signed the USA PATRIOT
Act, which permits greater sharing of intelligence and law enforcement
information, such as information derived from Title III intercepts,
information provided to grand juries, and information contained in criminal
The Department continues to face significant challenges in ensuring
that other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies have access
to information important to their work. The OIG examined several of
these issues in its September 2002 review of aspects of the FBI’s counterterrorism
program (OIG Report #02-38). In addition to the need to develop and
disseminate a written assessment of the threat of a terrorist attack,
our audit noted a number of impediments to the FBI’s effective processing
of tactical threat information. The FBI receives a constant flow of
information about possible terrorist threats and, consequently, faces
an enormous challenge in deciding what information requires what type
of response. Among the weaknesses we noted during our audit were the
lack of criteria for initially evaluating and prioritizing incoming
threat information and a lack of a protocol for when to notify higher
levels of FBI management, other units and field offices, and other agencies
in the law enforcement and intelligence communities. We also found
that the FBI’s ability to process intelligence information is hampered
by its lack of an experienced, trained corps of professional intelligence
analysts for both tactical and strategic threat analysis.
An ongoing OIG review is reviewing the FBI’s ability to process and
share intelligence information. At the FBI Director’s request, the
OIG is examining issues related to the FBI’s handling of information
and intelligence that the FBI had in its possession prior to the September
11 attacks. Among the issues we are reviewing is how the FBI handled
an electronic communication written by its Phoenix Division in July 2001
regarding Islamic extremists attending civil aviation schools in Arizona
and issues raised in the May 21, 2002, letter to the FBI Director
from the Minneapolis Chief Division Counsel.
In FY 2003, the OIG plans to review the FBI’s dissemination of intelligence
information to assess whether: (1) the flow of intelligence between
the FBI and the broader federal intelligence community is satisfactory
to all parties involved; (2) information and services of the FBI’s Office
of Law Enforcement Coordination and the Office of Intelligence are routinely
accessible to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies; (3)
terrorism warnings and advisories are informative, useful, and timely;
(4) impediments exist to the sharing of intelligence, warning, and advisories.
The OIG continues to examine efforts by the FBI and the INS to link
information in their agency’s respective automated fingerprint identification
systems. A March 2000 OIG special report (“The Rafael Resendez-Ramirez
Case: A Review of the INS’s Actions and the Operation of its IDENT
Automated Fingerprint Identification System”) highlighted the failure
of the FBI and INS to share important criminal justice information.
We noted the importance of expeditiously integrating the FBI’s Integrated
Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) with the INS’s IDENT
system to enable the two fingerprint systems to share information.
A fully integrated IDENT/IAFIS system will provide INS employees with
immediate information on whether a person they apprehend or detain is
wanted by the FBI or has a record in the FBI’s Criminal Master File.
Similarly, linking IDENT and IAFIS could provide state and local law
enforcement agencies with valuable immigration information as part of
a response from a single FBI criminal history search request. In December
2001, the OIG issued a follow-up report (OIG Report #I-2002-003) on
the status of IDENT/IAFIS integration efforts and concluded that integration
has proceeded slowly and remains years away. In FY 2003, the OIG intends
to conduct another follow-up review to assess the Department’s progress
in linking IDENT and IAFIS.
- Information Systems Planning and Implementation: OIG audits,
evaluations, and special reports continue to identify mission-critical
computer systems in the Department that were poorly planned, experienced
long delays in implementation, or did not provide timely, useful, and
reliable data. Given the critical role these systems play in supporting
the Department’s operational and administrative programs, and the vast
sums of money spent on developing and deploying these systems, information
systems planning and implementation continues to be a top management
challenge in the Department.
In most criminal investigations – and certainly in the aftermath of
the September 11 attacks – the FBI must be able to rapidly identify
and disseminate pertinent intelligence information to the law enforcement
community. Failure to capitalize on leads in its possession can delay
or seriously impede an investigation. In a March 2002 review of the
belated production of documents in the Oklahoma City bombing case (OKBOMB),
we found that widespread failures by the FBI led to the belated disclosure
of more than 1,000 documents. We traced the failures to a variety of
causes, including the FBI’s cumbersome and complex document-handling
procedures and its antiquated and inefficient computer systems. Although
we did not find that the FBI’s failures in the OKBOMB case were caused
by its computer systems, we concluded that these systems cannot handle
or retrieve documents in a useful, comprehensive, or efficient way.
This was not the first time the OIG had identified problems in the FBI’s
ability to access information from its computer systems. In a 1999
OIG review, we examined why classified intelligence information pertaining
to the Department’s Campaign Finance Task Force investigation was not
disseminated appropriately within the FBI and the Department and, subsequently,
to congressional oversight committees. The OIG found that a series
of problems, including deficiencies in the use and maintenance of the
FBI’s computer database systems, ultimately contributed to this failure.
The problems encountered in our OKBOMB and Campaign Finance reviews
shine light on historical problems in the FBI’s information technology
systems, including: antiquated and inefficient computer systems; inattention
to information management; and inadequate quality control systems.
The FBI Director has committed to moving the agency forward in these
areas, and the OIG will continue to monitor the FBI’s efforts to improve
its information systems planning and implementation.
The OIG is finishing an audit of the FBI’s management of its information
technology projects. The review also examines the FBI’s efforts to
develop enterprise architecture and effective project management. In
FY 2003, we plan to audit the FBI’s Trilogy system to determine
whether: (1) the FBI complied with federal regulations in selecting
primary contractors for Trilogy; (2) the FBI complied with Federal Acquisition
Regulations and Justice Acquisition Regulations in procuring Trilogy
products; and (3) Trilogy’s implementation is on schedule to meet
cost, schedule, program management, and performance baselines.
Similarly, we plan to audit the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA)
IT investment management process to ensure that the DEA is effectively
managing its IT investments so that they provide the benefits for which
they were designed. In addition, we plan to examine the DEA’s strategic
planning and performance measurement activities related to IT management.
- Computer Systems Security: The threat to Department computers,
databases, and networks from unauthorized access remains strong as hackers
and others employ new technologies in their efforts to compromise Department
computer networks and information. Since 1991, the Department has classified
computer security as a material weakness.
The OIG regularly performs security assessments and penetration testing
using advanced security system software. We have repeatedly found serious
problems in the Department’s computer security that could lead to the
compromise of sensitive systems and data.
The OIG also conducts regular computer security audits mandated by the
Government Information Security Reform Act (GISRA), which requires that
Inspectors General audit the security of critical information systems
in their agencies. Our audits assess the Department’s compliance with
GISRA and related information security policies, procedures, standards,
and guidelines. In FY 2002, we issued reports on the effectiveness
of information security control techniques for nine Department computer
systems, including four classified and five sensitive but unclassified
(SBU) mission-critical systems.
Our GISRA audits of both classified and SBU systems revealed vulnerabilities
with management, operational, and technical controls that protect each
system and the data stored on it from unauthorized use, loss, or modification.
Because technical controls prevent unauthorized access to system resources
by restricting, controlling, and monitoring system access, we concluded
that the vulnerabilities noted in those areas were the most significant.
Overall, the GISRA audits found common vulnerabilities with security
policies and procedures, and password and logon management. We also
reported our concerns about account integrity and systems auditing management.
To varying degrees, our audits found insufficient or unenforced Department-level
and component security policies and procedures.
In several areas of identified vulnerabilities, broadly stated or minimally
imposed standards allowed system security managers too much latitude
in establishing system settings and, consequently, systems were not
fully secured. The vulnerabilities identified were more voluminous
and material for the Department’s classified compared to its SBU systems.
We attributed this to the fact that the Department has performed penetration
testing on its SBU systems, but not its classified systems.
To address the deficiencies noted, we offered a series of recommendations,
including increased oversight, development of documented procedures,
and establishment of proper system settings to help improve computer
security. The components generally concurred with our findings and
agreed to implement corrective action. If GISRA is reauthorized in
FY 2003, the OIG intends to examine pursuant to GISRA additional classified
and SBU systems in the Department.
GISRA, however, was not the only computer security-related work performed
by the OIG in FY 2002. For example, we audited the BOPNet computer
system (OIG Report #02-03) to examine security controls that protect
the Federal Bureau of Prison’s (BOP) computer systems and the sensitive
information stored on them. The review disclosed vulnerabilities in
password, login, and system auditing management. These vulnerabilities
occurred because of insufficient or unenforced Department-level and
BOP security policies and procedures.
We also performed computer security assessments of the FBI’s headquarters
information systems control environment (OIG Report #01-13) and the
Justice Data Centers (OIG Report #01-10) as part of the Department’s
financial statement audits. The FBI audit identified weaknesses in
general and application controls that could compromise the FBI’s ability
to ensure security over sensitive programmatic or financial data and
the reliability of its financial reporting. The Justice Data Centers
review found that the Data Centers have improved their internal controls
and have remedied all prior year reportable conditions. The OIG will
continue to perform computer security assessments as part of its annual
review of the Department’s financial statements.
- Detention Space: At the time this list of top
management challenges was developed, Congress had not decided whether
the INS’s detention responsibilities would remain in the Department
or be transferred along with the INS to the Department of Homeland Security.
For this reason, and because the Detention Trustee is likely to remain
in the Department irrespective of the decision about the INS, we cite
this issue as a top Department management challenge.
Obtaining detention space at reasonable cost and efficiently managing
that space remains a top management challenge for the Department. Both
the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) and the INS have experienced rapid
growth in their use of detention space, from an average of approximately
32,000 beds in 1996 to approximately 50,000 beds in 2002. The USMS
faces a shortage of detention space near federal courts, resulting in
the need to transport detainees to distant facilities. The INS apprehends
1.6 million illegal aliens annually and must detain many of these aliens
until their removal.
To obtain additional detention space, the Department has relied on outside
contractors, including state and local governments and for-profit entities,
to house federal detainees. Over the past several years, OIG audits
of contractors for detention space have resulted in significant amounts
of questioned and unsupported costs paid to the entities.
For example, in FY 2001, we issued an audit of an intergovernmental
agreement (IGA) for detention space with York County, Pennsylvania (OIG
report #GR-70-01-005). The audit revealed that in FY 2000, York overcharged
the Department in excess of $6 million due to York’s understatement
of its average daily population, a key figure used to determine reimbursement
from the INS. If York used the daily rate determined by our audit,
and if the INS, USMS, and BOP continue to use the same amount of jail
days, the Department could realize annual savings of approximately $6.4
We also audited the IGA for detention space with the DeKalb County,
Georgia, Sheriff’s Office (OIG Report #GR-40-02-002). The audit revealed
that DeKalb County included $13.4 million of operating costs that
were unallowable, unallowable, or unsupported; understated its average
total inmate population by more than 29 percent; and over-billed the
INS $5.7 million in FY 2000. As a result, we questioned costs
of $5.6 million and identified funds to better use of $7.8 million.
A third IGA audit, regarding the Government of Guam’s detention of INS
and USMS detainees (OIG Report #GR-90-01-006), found that for the period
of October 1, 1998, through September 30, 2000, the Department overpaid
Guam more than $3.6 million based on the actual allowable costs
and the average daily population. In addition, the OIG found that the
Department could realize annual savings of $3.3 million by using the
audited rate for future payments.
There are considerable differences regarding the nature of the agreements
used to obtain jail space from state and local governments. In the
OIG’s view, the Department has not yet settled on a procurement process
to obtain detention space in a manner that meets prudent business practices
and existing procurement regulations. Given the number of individuals
currently detained by the Department, and the hundreds of millions of
dollars involved, it is important that this matter be resolved promptly
and that detention space be acquired in a coordinated, cost effective,
and legal fashion.
In 2001, the Department appointed a Detention Trustee with broad responsibilities
related to many of the issues discussed above. We remain concerned
that the Detention Trustee may not have the authority or resources to
resolve many of these long-standing issues. In FY 2003, the OIG will
continue to monitor the work of the Office of the Detention Trustee
to review whether detention space needs are coordinated among the components,
bed space is acquired at equitable rates, and the acquired bed space
is appropriate for its use.
A recent OIG audit illustrated another facet of the Department’s detention
challenge. The OIG examined the INS’s Institutional Removal Program
(IRP) (OIG Report #02-41), which is designed to identify removable aliens
in federal, state, and local correctional facilities, ensure that they
are not released into the community, and deport them from the United
States as soon as they have completed serving their sentences.
The OIG found that the INS did not always timely process IRP cases.
As a result, the INS has been forced to detain criminal aliens released
from state and local correctional facilities after they have served
their sentence until deportation proceedings can be completed.
In a sample of 151 cases of criminal aliens in INS custody reviewed
by the OIG, we identified a total of $2.3 million in IRP-related detention
costs, of which $1.1 million was attributable to failures in the
IRP process within the INS’s control. We recommended that the Department
devise methods to encourage the full cooperation of state and local
governments, which is essential to an effective and efficient IRP.
- Financial Statements and Systems: In FY 2001, the Department
received an unqualified opinion on its consolidated financial statement,
the Department’s first such “clean” opinion. Each of the Department’s
components also received unqualified opinions in FY 2001. We believe
that the Department and the components deserve credit for removing many
of the obstacles that, in the past, have prevented auditors from stating
an opinion on the Department’s financial statements.
While obtaining an unqualified opinion in FY 2001 is a significant accomplishment,
however, important issues continue to exist that could threaten the
Department’s ability to maintain these improvements.
We reported three material weaknesses in the FY 2001 Consolidated report
on Internal Controls. Within the components, we found 13 material weaknesses
and 12 reportable conditions. The Department was able to overcome these
issues to achieve an unqualified opinion through intense, manual efforts
to prepare the financial statements and satisfy the audit requirements.
However, given the accelerated reporting deadlines to OMB that begin
with the FY 2002 audit, the Department has significant hurdles to overcome
in order to meet the due dates because of its continued dependence on
these manual efforts.
In addition, we continue to find that component financial and other
automated systems are not integrated and do not readily support the
production of financial statements. To succeed within the expedited
time frames, the Department must be able to prepare financial statements
more timely, and auditors must be able to test and rely upon internal
control processes throughout the year. Yet, most Department components
still view the preparation of financial statements as primarily a year-end
exercise, even though quarterly statements are now required.
In addition to the accelerated deadlines and system implementation issues,
the Department also faces issues with staff resources. We have found
that several components lack adequate staff to perform many of the tasks
needed to produce the financial statements. Consequently, the Department
continues to rely heavily on the use of contractors to prepare the statements
which, in addition to the expense, contributes to a lack of in-house
knowledge and expertise.
- Grant Management: Over the past 10 years, the Department
has become a significant grant-making agency that has disbursed billions
of dollars for, among other initiatives, community policing, drug treatment
programs, reimbursement to states for incarcerating illegal aliens,
and counterterrorism initiatives. For a Department that previously
had limited experience in awarding, monitoring, and reporting on grant
progress, the infusion of such significant amounts of grant money has
resulted in ongoing management challenges.
The OIG continues to audit grants disbursed by the Office of Community
Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to examine grantee compliance. In
FY 2002, our audits of COPS grant recipients identified more than
$11 million in questioned costs and more than $3 million in funds
to better use.
OIG reviews of this and other Department grant programs have found that
many grantees did not submit required program monitoring and financial
reports and that program officials’ on-site monitoring reviews did not
consistently address all grant conditions.
For example, in 2002 the OIG issued an audit of the Office of Justice
Programs’ (OJP) administration of domestic preparedness grants to state
and local agencies to enhance their ability to respond to terrorist
acts (OIG Report #02-15). Through January 15, 2002, the OJP awarded
grants totaling about $149 million – $101.7 million to 257 grantees
for equipment and $47.1 million to 29 grantees for training. The audit
found that grant funds were not awarded quickly and grantees were slow
to spend available monies. As of January 15, 2002, more than half of
the total funds appropriated for the grant program from FY 1998 through
FY 2001 – $141 million out of $243 million – still had not been awarded.
About $65 million in grant funds awarded was still unspent. In addition,
we found that nearly $1 million in equipment purchased with grant
funds was unavailable for use because grantees did not properly distribute
the equipment, could not locate it, or had been inadequately trained
on how to operate it. Although the grantees we contacted were satisfied
with the overall quality of training funded by the grant program, we
found that the OJP had not developed performance measures for evaluating
whether the program improved grantees’ capability to respond to terrorist
The OIG is currently examining administrative grant activities in OJP,
and between OJP and COPS, to identify functions that can be streamlined.
In FY 2003, the OIG plans to audit grant management in other Department
grant programs. In addition, we also will continue to audit individual
grantees to determine whether grants funds are used for their intended
- Performance-Based Management: The Department attempts to
hold itself accountable by developing performance measures that assess
outcomes and results rather than inputs. Similarly, the President’s
management agenda for FY 2002 requires integration of budget and performance.
The President’s management agenda stresses performance-based management,
stating that over the past few years the Department has seen a “significant
expansion in its mission and a rapid growth in resources. Meaningful
measures supported by performance data, particularly measures of program
outcome, are essential to evaluate this investment and determine future
A significant management challenge for the Department is ensuring, through
performance-based management, that its programs are achieving their
intended purposes. In a Department that has grown rapidly over the
past decade, linking credible performance measures to budget development
and allocation of resources has been uneven. As a regular part of OIG
program audits, the OIG examines performance measures for the component
or program under review and offers recommendations as to whether the
reported results are supported by reliable measurement methods or systems.
Additionally, as part of the annual financial statement audits, the
OIG obtains information about the existence and completeness of performance
In recent audits of Department programs, we generally find that the
performance measures in these programs are not always well developed
or adequately focused on outcomes. For example, in March 2002 the OIG
issued a report on the Office of International Affairs’ (OIA) Role in
the International Extradition of Fugitives (OIG Report #I-2002-008).
The report noted that the OIA had established performance measures for
treaty negotiations, but had not established measures for processing
extradition requests. We also found that the OIA did not have internal
policies, procedures, or standards pertaining to extradition cases that
identified staff responsibilities, time frames, or priorities to guide
employees or communicate management expectations.
Further, in our May 2002 audit of the OJP’s Convicted Offender DNA Sample
Backlog Reduction Grant Program (OIG Report #02-20), we found that OJP
had not developed performance measures that could assess whether the
national backlog of DNA samples awaiting analysis was being reduced
through its grant program. Without a performance measurement that specifically
assesses the Program’s impact on the national offender backlog, the
OJP cannot measure progress in achieving its mission to reduce and eventually
eliminate the convicted offender DNA sample backlog.
In the OIG’s audit of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Program (OIG Report
#02-38), we recommended that the FBI close the gap between planning
and operations in its counterterrorism program by establishing an effective
system of performance measures. Those measures should, in addition
to focusing on program outcomes, identify standards for holding managers
at all levels accountable for achieving the goals and objectives delineated
in the FBI’s strategic plans.
The General Accounting Office (GAO) reviewed the Department’s FY 2000
performance report and the FY 2002 performance plan (GAO Report #01-729)
to assess Department progress in achieving selected key outcomes identified
as important Department mission areas. It reported that the Department’s
overall progress towards achieving each of the four key outcome measures
was difficult to ascertain because the performance report generally
lacked measurable targets and lacked clear linkage between performance
measures and outcomes.
The OIG also has undertaken a review focusing of the overall use of
performance measures by a Department component. We are currently auditing
the DEA’s implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act
to assess whether it has developed quantifiable goals that support its
mission and whether the performance data gathered to date are valid
and accurate. We also are reviewing whether the DEA has an effective
system to collect, analyze, and report data related to its performance
- Human Capital: The Department continues to experience a management
challenge in attracting, training, and retaining sufficient qualified
employees in many of its areas of operation. Exacerbating this challenge
is the fact that Department employees are leaving to take higher-paying
positions in other government agencies (such as the new Transportation
Security Agency) and in the private sector. We also are concerned that
the Department of Homeland Security, possibly offering higher salaries
than Department employees currently earn, will siphon off trained employees
in areas such as law enforcement, intelligence analysis, information
technology, and linguistics.
Throughout the Department, agencies have difficulty attracting and retaining
high quality information technology specialists who are knowledgeable
about the latest hardware and software. Employees with specialized
skills in this area are in high demand in the marketplace, and the Department
has had some difficulty competing with private sector companies and
other government agencies who can offer greater monetary rewards. Without
greater recruitment and retention of highly qualified information technology
employees, the government runs the risk of falling further behind in
several of the challenges noted above, such as Information Systems Planning
and Implementation, Computer Systems Security, and Financial Statements
In other areas, Department components face problems in expeditiously
hiring qualified specialists. For example, the FBI must hire and train
additional intelligence analysts and investigators to assist in meeting
the Bureau’s new counterterrorism responsibilities. In addition, because
of the lack of investigators experienced in working counterterrorism
cases, the FBI is rehiring recently retired FBI agents for temporary
assignment. Furthermore, the FBI is seeking to build a corps of experienced
translators to address a lack of expertise in certain languages and
focus on reducing the backlog of translation requests.
The Department must have the capabilities, resources, and facilities
to adequately train the influx of entry-level personnel. For example,
training staff at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco,
Georgia, is working six days a week in an effort to train the high volume
of new employees.
We also believe the Department must focus attention and training resources
on new managers who will be needed to replace the significant number
of senior Department employees nearing retirement age.
- Department of Justice Reorganizations: Managing employees
through ongoing and impending reorganizations presents a critical management
challenge for the Department. While much of the ongoing reorganizations
are designed to increase the Department’s ability to combat terrorism,
some changes are designed to correct long-standing organizational problems.
The challenge for Department managers is not only to ensure that the
reorganization activities accomplish their intended purposes, but also
to see that the Department’s interconnected programs and functions are
not affected adversely by the changes during what may be prolonged transition
The largest impending reorganization is the creation of the Department
of Homeland Security and its absorption of all or part of the INS.
Congress and the Administration currently are grappling with the mechanics
of how to merge 22 departments and agencies with 170,000 employees into
a single agency with a wide-ranging mission. While no definitive decisions
have been made as of the date of this document, it is clear that creation
of the Department of Homeland Security will have a significant impact
on the Justice Department. The Department will be challenged to ensure
that the vital missions of the INS are not impeded during the transition
period. GAO echoed similar concerns in a recent report (GAO Report
#02-957T), stressing the challenges during the transition period relating
to communication systems, information technology systems, human capital
systems, and the physical location of people and other assets. Similar
challenges will result if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
is transferred from the Department of the Treasury into the Department
The FBI continues its internal reorganization to more effectively respond
to its new priority to detect and deter acts of terrorism against United
States interests. In December 2001, the FBI Director announced a restructuring
plan for FBI Headquarters that he described as the first step in a “phased
process of reorganizing assets, modernizing and integrating new technology,
and consolidating functions.” Additional restructuring measures
have been implemented, and the FBI is seeking to reengineer structures
and processes throughout its organization.
To aid in these restructuring efforts, the OIG is examining various
aspects of the FBI’s operations and programs. For example, the OIG’s
comprehensive review of the Department’s performance in preventing,
detecting, and investigating the espionage activities of former FBI
agent Robert Hanssen will offer recommendations for programmatic and
structural reorganization in the FBI’s counterintelligence programs.
Additionally, OJP is reorganizing in an attempt to improve its grant
operations. As mentioned previously, the OIG is reviewing OJP to assess
potential duplication in its grant management and oversight process,
both within OJP and between COPS and OJP, in an effort to identify opportunities
to create efficiencies and streamline operations.
These restructuring efforts throughout the Department present significant
challenges to managers and employees. Importantly, the Department must
ensure that its critical missions are effectively met while the reorganizations
are taking place – reorganizations that, hopefully, will leave the Department
better prepared to address these and other top management challenges
in the future. The OIG intends to assist in this effort by reviewing
the proposed changes and offering recommendations for improvement.
Top Management Challenges in
the Immigration and
The Office of the
Inspector General (OIG) annually issues a list of top management challenges facing
the Department of Justice (Department). This year, in light of pending legislation
to transfer the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) from the Department
to the proposed Department of Homeland Security, we have created separate lists
of top management challenges in the Department and in the INS. The following
list of top INS challenges is intended to assist the Department of Homeland Security
in successfully assimilating the INS, or the Department in managing the INS should
it not be transferred.
- Border Security: The INS’s ability to screen individuals seeking
to enter the United States remains a key element of homeland security
and the INS faces many challenges in this area. For example, we have
found that the INS lacks adequate staff and equipment to guard northern
land and water borders. The INS’s strategy to control the southwest
border, while much further deployed than its northern border strategy,
needs additional infrastructure support, such as physical facilities
and technology, and may take many years to fully implement. When the
INS apprehends aliens, it does not have the capability to effectively
identify those who are wanted by law enforcement or who may pose a threat
to the United States. Also, the INS’s capacity to detain aliens prior
to their removal is not sufficient.
The OIG has examined many facets of the INS’s efforts to control U.S.
borders. For example, in two reviews of the INS’s Border Patrol deployment
and operation along the northern border (OIG Report#I-2000-004, and
follow-up report OIG Report #I-2002-004), we found that INS staffing
and resource shortages along the northern border continue to be a critical
impediment to effective control of illegal immigration. With respect
to the southwest border, the General Accounting Office (GAO) reached
similar conclusions. The GAO’s report, “INS’ Southwest Border Strategy:
Resource and Impact Issues Remain After Seven Years” (GAO-01-842, August
2, 2001), estimated that it may take the INS up to another decade to
fully implement its strategy.
The OIG also has examined other methods of entry into the United States
that are important to the border security challenge. “The Potential
for Fraud and INS’s Efforts to Reduce the Risks of the Visa Waiver Pilot
Program” (OIG Report #I-99-10) and our follow-up report (OIG Report
#I-2002-002) examined vulnerabilities in the Visa Waiver Program and
found that INS inspectors lacked access to full information regarding
missing and stolen passports. We also found serious security concerns
in the Transit Without Visa Program. In two other reports, “Transit
Without Visa (TWOV) Program Inspection” (OIG Report #I-92-27 and our
follow-up report, “Improving the Security of the Transit Without Visa
Program” (OIG Report #I-2002-005), we determined that airlines failed
to supervise passengers at United States airports in the Transit Without
Visa program, and that the INS could not verify that such passengers
actually left the country. In another examination of port-of-entry
(POE) operations, “Immigration and Naturalization Service Deferred Inspections
at Airports” (OIG Report #01-29), we found that 11 percent of entering
aliens who were allowed to enter the country upon condition that they
agree to appear at an INS office to complete their deferred inspection
failed to do so and that the INS’s subsequent pursuit of such persons
was incomplete and ineffective.
The challenge of securing the nation’s borders extends to how the INS
processes aliens after they are apprehended. A critical part of this
challenge is the integration of the INS’s automated biometric fingerprint
identification system (IDENT) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s
(FBI’s) integrated automated fingerprint identification system (IAFIS).
Our most recent examination of the integration efforts, “Status of IDENT/IAFIS
Integration” (OIG Report #I-2002-003), followed up on two prior reviews,
“Review of the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s Automated Biometric
Identification System (IDENT)” (OIG Report #I-1998-010), and “The Rafael
Resendez-Ramirez Case: A Review of the INS's Actions and the Operation
of its IDENT Automated Fingerprint Identification System” (March 2000).
In these reports, we recommended that the Department continue to seek
linkage of the FBI and INS biometric identification systems and use
IDENT while integration of IDENT and IAFIS is proceeding. We also recommended,
as an interim measure, adding fingerprint records to the IDENT lookout
database for aliens wanted in connection with crimes.
The INS took this step, which according to the INS has resulted in the
apprehension of thousands of aliens who had criminal warrants outstanding.
We believe that full integration of IDENT and IAFIS will improve the
ability of the INS to identify and detain aliens who are wanted for
crimes or who may pose a threat to the nation’s security. In
recognition of the critical importance of integration of these systems,
we are initiating another follow-up review in fiscal year (FY) 2003
to assess the progress of the integration efforts.
- Enforcement and Removal: The INS’s ability to find and remove
the estimated 7-12 million illegal aliens in the United States is an
enormous challenge. Currently, there are many gaps in the INS’s ability
to identify aliens who are ineligible to remain in this country. The
INS’s systems for tracking when aliens enter and leave the United States
clearly are inadequate. Improving these systems will require persistent
efforts and substantial investments of resources. This will be a daunting
challenge to an agency that does not have a history of success with
large technology initiatives. Moreover, even if the INS succeeds in
creating effective tracking systems, it must implement an effective
program for removing aliens after they have been identified.
In 1997, the OIG examined the INS’s efforts to identify aliens who overstayed
the limits prescribed by their visas, a condition that the INS has estimated
involves approximately 40-50 percent of the illegal alien population
in the United States. Recently, we conducted a follow-up review, “INS
Efforts to Improve the Control of Nonimmigrant Overstays” (OIG Report
#I-2002-006), which found that the INS has made little progress in effectively
dealing with nonimmigrant overstays or in addressing the recommendations
we made in 1997. The INS does not have reliable data on overstays or
a reliable system to track overstays, and it acknowledges that any effective
enforcement strategy depends on the future establishment of a comprehensive
The GAO reached similar conclusions in its report, “Immigration Enforcement:
Challenges to Implementing the INS Interior Enforcement Strategy” (GAO-02-861T,
June 19, 2002), which also examined the INS’s efforts to develop an
interior enforcement strategy. In 1999, the INS issued its Interior
Enforcement Strategy to focus resources on areas that would have the
greatest impact on reducing the size and annual growth of the illegal
resident population. The GAO concluded that for the INS’s interior
enforcement strategy to be effective, the INS needs better data to determine
staff needs, reliable information technology systems, clear and consistent
guidelines and procedures for INS field staff, effective coordination
within the INS and with other agencies, and performance measures that
help the INS assess program results.
The OIG recently assessed the INS’s Institutional Removal Program (IRP),
an INS program designed to identify deportable criminal aliens incarcerated
in federal, state, and local correctional facilities and remove them
from the United States upon completion of their sentence. Our review,
“Immigration and Naturalization Service’s Institutional Removal Program”
(OIG Report #02-41), determined that the INS has not managed the IRP
process effectively. We found that the INS has yet to determine the
nationwide population of foreign-born inmates, particularly at the county
level. Without this information, the INS cannot properly quantify the
resources it needs to fully identify and process all deportable inmates.
In addition, at the county level we found that IRP interviews of foreign-born
inmates to determine deportability were minimal to non-existent. As
a result, many potentially deportable foreign-born inmates passed through
county jails virtually undetected. We found instances where inmates
not identified by the INS as potentially deportable went on to commit
additional crimes, including cocaine trafficking, child molestation,
and aggravated assault, after being released into the community.
Further, our review found that the INS did not always timely process
IRP cases. As a result, it has been forced to detain in INS custody
criminal aliens released from state and local correctional facilities
– after they have served their sentence – until deportation proceedings
can be completed. In the OIG’s sample of 151 cases of criminal aliens
in INS custody, we identified a total of $2.3 million in IRP-related
detention costs, of which $1.1 million was attributable to failures
in the IRP process within the INS’s control. We estimated that the
total cost of holding IRP inmates in INS detention could run as high
as $200 million annually.
In another OIG report, “The INS Escort of Criminal Aliens” (OIG Report
#I-2001-005), we reviewed the INS’s implementation of its policies for
escorting criminal aliens who are being removed from the United States.
We found that the INS placed the traveling public at potential risk
because it did not consistently follow its own escort policy. Some
INS supervisory field officials disregarded provisions of the INS escort
policy, resulting in the transportation of violent aliens on commercial
airlines without escorts. In addition, the INS failed to identify some
dangerous aliens during the routine pre-removal alien file review process.
We also found that INS field officials often failed to provide the required
ratio of escorts to dangerous aliens, and the INS did not always provide
escorts during the final segment of multi-flight removal trips.
- Entry/Exit and Student Tracking Systems: According to INS
estimates, in FY 2001 the INS inspected over 35 million nonimmigrants
at air POEs, approximately 1 million at sea POEs, and approximately
195 million at land POEs. However, because of inadequate tracking systems,
the INS does not know whether these nonimmigrants have overstayed or
otherwise violated the conditions of their admittance to the United
As we discussed above, a reliable and efficient system of tracking nonimmigrant
entries and exits is essential to the INS’s enforcement and removal
responsibilities. We evaluated the INS’s efforts at developing an effective
entry/exit system, which was mandated by Congress in both the Illegal
Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 and the
Immigration and Naturalization Service Data Management Improvement Act
of 2000. In our audit report entitled “The Immigration and Naturalization
Service’s Automated I-94 System” (OIG Report#01-18), we determined that
the INS’s I-94 entry/exit system was a failure. At the time of our
audit in 2000, the system operated at only four air POEs with the participation
of only two airlines. The system had not been deployed at any land
or sea POEs. We found that the INS’s efforts to track the implementation
of the system were inadequate. Despite having spent $31.2 million on
the system from FY 1996 to FY 2000, the INS did not have clear evidence
that the system would meet its intended goals, and estimated that an
additional $57 million would be needed for FY 2001 through FY 2005 to
complete the system.
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the effectiveness
of monitoring nonimmigrant visitors came under additional scrutiny.
The USA Patriot Act, enacted on October 26, 2001, requires that an integrated
entry/exit control system be implemented with all deliberate speed and
that an Integrated Entry and Exit System Task Force be established to
accomplish this task. The exit/entry control system would collect and
match arrival and departure records for every alien and provide reports
on overstays. On February 18, 2002, the INS officially terminated the
Automated I-94 System project. The INS created an Entry-Exit Program
Office to explore alternative technical solutions and processes for
the entry/exit control system. The INS faces enormous challenges to
implement this system in a timely, complete, and cost-effective manner.
In addition to its difficulties in tracking nonimmigrants generally,
the INS has been unable to monitor effectively certain categories of
nonimmigrants, such as students. In a report issued in May 2002, the
OIG examined the INS’s efforts to monitor the approximately 500,000
aliens who annually enter the United States under student visas. In
our report, we first examined the INS’s processing of two September
11 terrorists’ applications for a change of status from visitor to student,
and the reasons that the notification forms approving the change of
status were mailed to a Florida flight school six months after the terrorists
had died while perpetrating the September 11 attacks. We found the
INS’s adjudication and notification process to be untimely and significantly
flawed. Even after adjudication, the requisite forms were delayed for
months before being mailed to the flight school, which we attributed
to the INS’s failure to monitor a contractor’s performance adequately.
We then examined the INS’s paper-based system for monitoring and tracking
foreign students in the United States, and found that it was antiquated
and inadequate. We concluded that the INS’s new Internet-based student
tracking system, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System
(SEVIS), will be a significant advance and will help address many of
the failings of the current system. But SEVIS alone will not solve
the problems of the INS’s tracking of foreign students. For example,
the INS must review and properly recertify thousands of schools that
currently are certified to enroll foreign students, must ensure that
its employees and the schools timely and accurately enter information
into SEVIS, and must ensure that the information from SEVIS is analyzed
and used adequately. We concluded that the INS was unlikely to meet
the January 2003 deadline for full implementation of SEVIS. At the
end of the report, we provided 24 recommendations to help address deficiencies
in INS practices and procedures that we found in our review and in the
INS’s proposed implementation of SEVIS.
- Applications Backlog: The INS handles approximately 50 types
of applications for immigration services, including applications for
employment authorization, change of status to permanent residence, asylum,
and citizenship. Processing the millions of applications in a timely
and consistent fashion has been a longstanding challenge for the INS.
This challenge was examined in an OIG special report, “An Investigation
of the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s Citizenship USA Initiative”
(July 31, 2000). At the time the INS initiated Citizenship USA, it
projected that an applicant for citizenship would have to wait three
years for agency action. The report found that during the time in which
the INS focused attention on this poorly planned effort at reducing
the citizenship backlog, the backlog of applications for other immigration
benefits grew substantially.
The GAO reported similar problems in its report, “Immigration Benefits:
Several Factors Impede Timeliness of Application Processing” (GAO-01-488,
May 4, 2001). The GAO also found that while the backlog for citizenship
had decreased, the backlog for other applications had increased. The
GAO concluded that the INS experienced significant problems managing
its application workload, despite years of increasing budgets and staff.
It found that the INS did not maximize the deployment of staff to process
applications in a timely fashion because it lacks a systematically developed
staff resource allocation model. The GAO also found that the INS did
not know how long it took to process applications because its automated
systems contained unreliable data and its districts did not have automated
systems for tracking many types of applications.
As noted above, in the OIG report on the INS’s contacts with two September
11 terrorists, the OIG found significant backlogs in the processing
of I-539 applications for change of status. Mohamed Atta and Marwan
Alshehhi had applied to the INS Texas Service Center to change their
immigration status from tourist to student in the year before the attacks
on the World Trade Center. Both Atta’s and Alshehhi’s I-539 applications
took 10 months for adjudication. This type of delay in adjudicating
I-539 applications was typical because I-539s had been a low priority
for the INS, resulting in substantial processing backlogs. The average
processing times for I-539s have remained consistently high since at
least 1998, ranging from 129 to 200 days. For FY 2002, the INS made
processing I-539s a priority and set the target processing time at five
months. However, we question whether the INS can meet its new processing
deadlines unless sufficient resources are consistently devoted to the
Our annual audits of the INS’s financial statement continued to find
evidence of significant deficiencies in the INS’s ability to handle
immigration applications and monitor its productivity and progress in
addressing backlogs. During FY 2000, INS management had to expend tremendous
efforts in conducting a wall-to-wall physical inventory of applications
to determine how many it had pending and how many it had processed to
completion at the end of the fiscal year. The INS manually counted
approximately 2 million applications – first, in several preliminary
counts and then a final end-of-year count that shut down production
at several sites for more than a week and delayed application processing.
We concluded that the INS needs an automated system for recording the
status of pending applications and for better managing its backlogs.
- Financial Statements and Systems: The INS continues to expend
tremendous manual efforts and costs in preparing its financial statements
and supporting financial statement audits. This is due primarily to
the lack of automated systems that readily support ongoing accounting
operations, financial statement preparation, and the audit process.
For instance, although the INS obtained an unqualified opinion in its
FY 2001 financial statement audit, the achievement was tenuous and does
not reflect a healthy financial accounting system. The INS has been
in the process of replacing its core financial system for over five
years. Among other problems, it continues to use a significant feeder
system that does not comply with federal financial systems criteria.
The INS still processes the majority of its transactions through the
Financial Accounting and Control System (FACS), its legacy accounting
system, which now serves as a feeder system to its new Federal Financial
Management System. However, FACS has many inherent control weaknesses
due to its age and design.
While the INS has made progress in its financial statements, it still
needs to make further improvement in areas such as identification of
deferred revenue, financial management systems controls, general electronic
data processing controls, verification of intra-governmental transactions,
documentation of accrual estimation, and controls over key performance
measures. In our FY 2001 financial statement audit, we identified the
first three items as material weaknesses.
In addition, as discussed above, the INS has a critical problem determining
how many immigration benefits applications it has processed and, thus,
its calculation of earned revenue and management of its examinations
fee account. So far, it has been able to meet the end-of-year requirement
only by a manual count and shutdown of some processing facilities.
None of these deficiencies is subject to easy solution. We believe
the INS’s challenge will increase as the government accelerates the
completion dates for the financial statements and shifts to quarterly
- Information Technology Planning and Implementation: The INS’s
implementation of technology projects has been a long-term management
challenge. The Department recognized the challenge when it identified
INS information technology as a material weakness in 1998. In an OIG
report issued that year, “Immigration and Naturalization Service Management
of Automation Programs” (OIG Report #98-09), we concluded that the INS
had not adequately managed its automation programs. The report warned
that the INS was at risk that completed projects would not meet their
intended goals, completion of the automation programs would be significantly
delayed, and unnecessary costs could occur.
A year later, the OIG issued a follow-up report (OIG Report #99-19)
that found continuing problems with INS information technology planning
and management. Specifically, we reported that project costs continued
to increase without established baselines against which actual costs
incurred could be compared and without justifications for the increases.
We found that INS managers did not adequately monitor planned project
tasks to ensure timely completion and that monthly progress reviews
were incomplete, unclear, and untimely. Further, the INS had not developed
comprehensive performance measures to ensure that completed projects,
once deployed, would meet intended goals. Finally, the report noted
serious deficiencies in the INS’s compliance with its system development
life-cycle process. As a result, the INS had no assurance that systems
would meet performance and functional requirements.
We continue to have concerns about the INS’s management of its information
technology programs. For example, we performed an audit entitled, “The
Immigration and Naturalization Service’s System Data Pertaining to Secondary
Inspections at Selected Preclearance Airports” (OIG Report #01-11),
to assess the technology available to INS inspectors at secondary inspection
sites. INS inspectors at airports rely on inspection data maintained
in the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS). Other federal
entities and INS programs rely on TECS data in their law enforcement
operations. Our audit found variations in the reliability of INS data
entry practices. For example, at one site INS inspectors entered the
required referral designation and secondary inspection results in TECS
for only 3 percent of the approximately 51,000 secondary inspections
performed during the audit period. The lack of reliable data jeopardizes
other INS law enforcement efforts, including the INS’s ability to provide
assistance to other federal entities.
We have discussed above other OIG reports that described vulnerabilities
in INS information technology programs, including the status of IDENT/IAFIS
integration (OIG Report #I-2002-003), the INS’s contacts with two September
11 terrorists, and the Automated I-94 System (OIG Report #01-18). Significant
issues that we continue to find in INS information technology projects
demonstrate the need for a major dedication of resources and oversight
to this critical management challenge.
- Computer Systems Security: The INS depends on computers to
process millions of immigration transactions, to record its dealings
with millions of aliens, and to conduct its office automation activities.
Protecting these systems from unauthorized access, manipulation, or
destruction is vital to the INS’s operations. The OIG has examined
the security of INS computer systems pursuant to the Government Information
Security Reform Act and performed additional testing while conducting
the annual financial statement audit. Computer systems security remains
a critical challenge that the INS, like other government agencies, must
address on a continuing basis.
For example, we reviewed the “backbone” INS system that provides office
automation tools to more than 30,000 INS employees and 10,000 contractor
employees worldwide. We also reviewed the automated system that supports
INS records management functions. Our review of the management, operational,
and technical controls that protect the INS’s core network found medium
to high vulnerabilities for unauthorized use, loss, or modification
in 9 of the 17 control areas that were tested, with 2 reported as high
vulnerabilities. We noted a need for improvements or corrective actions
with respect to the security evaluation and risk assessment; interconnections
with other networks; intrusion detection systems; tape management; and
access, password, and encryption practices.
Our review of the INS records management system found deficiencies in
12 of the 17 control areas tested. We found inadequate security evaluation
and risk assessment practices, and recommended that these deficiencies
may warrant rescinding the system’s certification and accreditation
in favor of an interim approval to operate until corrective action is
completed. We also recommended corrective action regarding system contingency
planning and clarification of the responses required in the event of
a service disruption. In all, the OIG made 18 recommendations to the
INS for corrective actions regarding the 2 systems.
- Detention Space Management: Obtaining and efficiently managing
detention space for INS detainees is a critical management challenge.
In 2000, the INS apprehended 1.8 million aliens, many of whom are held
temporarily before being voluntarily returned to Mexico. Statutory
changes enacted by Congress in 1996, which require the INS to detain
certain classifications of aliens until their removal, have increased
the number of aliens who must be detained for more than short periods.
For example, the number of aliens detained for formal removal or other
immigration proceedings has grown, from 72,154 in 1994 to 188,547 during
To obtain additional detention space, the INS has relied on outside
contractors (including state and local governments and for-profit entities)
to house INS detainees. For example, the Department’s Detention Trustee
has estimated that almost 70 percent of the Department’s detainees (which
also includes those held by the U.S. Marshals Service) are held in state,
local, or contractor-operated facilities. OIG audits of contractors
for detention space have resulted in significant dollar findings, generally
for unsupported costs. For example, in FY 2001 we issued an audit of
an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) for detention space with York County,
Pennsylvania (OIG Report #GR-70-01-005). The audit revealed that in
FY 2000, York overcharged the Department in excess of $6 million due
to York’s understatement of its average daily population, a key figure
used to determine reimbursement from the INS. Further, our audit estimated
that the Department could save an additional $6.4 million if the rate
was lowered to comport with the audited figures and the Department used
the same number of jail days during the following year.
Other OIG audits identified significant overpayments that the INS and
the Department made under other IGAs. For example, our audit of an
IGA with the DeKalb County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office (OIG Report GR-40-02-002)
found that the INS was over-billed by $5.7 million in FY 2001. DeKalb
County’s understatement of the average total inmate population by more
than 29 percent resulted in this over-billing. An audit of the Government
of Guam (OIG Report GR-90-01-006) found that for the period of October
1, 1998, through September 30, 2000, the Department overpaid Guam more
than $3.6 million based on the actual allowable costs and the average
daily population. In addition, the OIG found that the Department could
realize annual savings of $3.3 million by using the audited rate for
The INS has not yet acted to recover these overpayments. At York, the
INS has not reduced its payments to conform to the audited rates. Moreover,
in our view, the INS and the Department have not yet settled on a procurement
process to obtain detention space in a manner that meets existing procurement
Juvenile illegal aliens present special detention challenges for the
INS. In our report entitled “Unaccompanied Juveniles in INS Custody”
(OIG Report #I-2001-009), we found that the INS did not always segregate
non-delinquent juveniles from delinquent juveniles and that the INS
was not always able to promptly place juveniles in a detention facility
or shelter due to a shortage of appropriate facilities. In another
report, entitled “Juvenile Repatriation Practices at Border Patrol Sectors
on the Southwest Border” (OIG Report #I-2001-010), we found that unaccompanied
Mexican juveniles sometimes were detained over a weekend at Border Patrol
stations in holding cells built for temporary confinement.
- Organizational Structure: For several years, the INS has
considered various reorganization plans. Congress also has proposed
restructuring the INS in an effort to address many of its management
and programmatic challenges. Recently, the Administration and Congress
have proposed to transfer all or part of the INS’s functions to the
Department of Homeland Security.
A major redesign of the INS’s structure and location could affect, at
least in the short term, productivity, quality assurance, employee morale,
and the quality of the services provided to the public. The challenge
for the INS, in whichever organization it is located, will be to ensure
that the reorganization accomplishes its intended purposes and that
the agency’s essential services and functions continue without interruption
during the transition. Whichever way the INS is reorganized, fundamental
corrections in its business practices, policies, and systems are necessary.
We believe it is imperative that any reorganization or transfer of the
INS not substitute or delay such corrective actions.
- Human Capital: To fulfill its mission, the INS must have
sufficient trained staff and supervisors. This has been a critical
challenge for the INS. For example, the INS has had difficulty filling
Border Patrol agent positions because of high attrition rates among
agents, delays in recruitment, and limitations in training facilities.
These problems have been exacerbated by the recruiting successes of
the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Sky Marshal program
and TSA’s ability to offer higher pay than the INS for many of its positions.
Like other parts of the Department, the INS also suffers from difficulties
in attracting and retaining employees in information technology and
computer security positions. Moreover, the INS’s average workforce
is less experienced as a result of significant attrition among experienced
employees. The INS also is heavily reliant upon contractor support
for many functions associated with its information systems, records
management, immigration service processing, detention services, guard
services, and other functions.
In our examinations of the INS’s programs and operations, we frequently
have encountered inconsistent and nonconforming business practices and
transactions. Field offices use different forms, criteria, and often
appear ignorant of agency policy and guidance. In particular, we have
found both inconsistent practices among field offices and fundamental
deficiencies in common business transactions. These findings suggest
that, among other measures, the INS needs to improve its training so
that employees perform their duties correctly and in accordance with
standard INS policy.
While the INS is not unique in experiencing a human capital challenge,
correction of the many difficult systemic problems that we have described
in this list of top management challenges requires an adequately trained
and qualified INS workforce. To the extent INS does not address human
capital challenges, its ability to solve its other management challenges
will be undermined.