Financial Management:

INS Lacks Accountability and Controls Over Its Resources

AFMD-91-20: Published: Jan 24, 1991. Publicly Released: Jan 24, 1991.

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GAO examined the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) financial management systems, operations, and controls.

GAO found that: (1) INS lacked the systems and procedures to ensure the collection, accountability, control, and deposit of millions of dollars in revenue and debts; (2) INS debt management problems stemmed from inaccurate financial data, unreliable financial systems, insufficient internal controls, lack of coordination among district offices, and low priority on financial management; (3) district offices did not adhere to INS cash management procedures for depositing receipts; (4) INS lost large amounts of fee revenue because of checks returned for insufficient funds; (5) INS did not maintain complete records essential for supporting its debt collection efforts; (6) incomplete files and low management priority made INS collection of breached surety bonds more difficult; (7) INS ineffectively directed the design and implementation of an INS-wide debt management system; (8) financial management problems severely affected INS ability to effectively manage and accurately report the results of its program and administrative operations; (9) INS lacked effective controls over fund balances, and its financial reports did not accurately reflect its financial condition or provide reliable financial information; (10) coding errors, lack of reconciliations between the primary and subsidiary accounting systems, and data entry backlogs contributed to the inaccuracies in reports generated by the primary accounting system; and (11) INS did not report all of its internal control and accounting weaknesses to the President or Congress.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: INS has conducted an independent audit of its fee programs, as required by the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to appoint an Associate Commissioner for Financial Management who should prepare INS financial statements in accordance with Title 2 of the GAO Policy and Procedures Manual and arrange for them to be independently audited on an annual basis.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The INS Administrative Manual was amended to include requirements and detailed guidance on monthly reconciliations of INS cash receipts and disbursements to those of the U.S. Treasury. Regional accounting offices are required to submit monthly certification that cash balances are correct, as well as quarterly certification of ledger account balances and unrecorded transactions.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to appoint an Associate Commissioner for Financial Management who should adhere to established accounting policies and procedures for performing periodic reconciliations between INS accounting records and internal and external financial reports to determine the causes of differences and the correct amount for fund balances.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Associate Commissioner for Financial Management directed a system development team to review and modify the Department of Justice's Financial Management Information System to enable the system to provide INS managers with financial information on budget execution.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to appoint an Associate Commissioner for Financial Management who should review INS financial system requirements and ensure that the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Financial Management Information System is able to meet them.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On October 20, 1991, the INS Commissioner appointed an Associate Commissioner for Finance. Under its new financial leadership, INS developed a strategic financial management improvement plan which addresses top management strategies and initiatives for improving INS financial operations.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to appoint an Associate Commissioner for Financial Management who should serve as the agency focal point for developing an overall financial management plan for improving systems and integrating INS financial management structure.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: INS has established central control over billing, collection, and debt referral processes, including the creation of a Debt File System to ensure retention of the original documents needed for collection, and the establishment of a centralized facility for the processing of breached bonds and other debts.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to continue efforts to develop an effective debt collection system and hold managers accountable for maintaining reliable financial data on debts owed the government.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Under its new financial leadership, INS has strengthened controls over its fee programs by establishing a formal process for reviewing and auditing the collection and remittance of immigration user fees.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to ensure that total fee revenue due the government is collected efficiently and that effective systems are in place to provide reliable information for managing INS fee programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: INS established a new group to conduct service-wide reviews to identify material weaknesses for inclusion in the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA) review process. Problems occurring in the field will be reported in the FMFIA report. The group is also responsible for ensuring that correction of internal control weaknesses is completed timely and accurately.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to appoint an Associate Commissioner for Financial Management who should include field activities in the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act review process and report all material weaknesses and actions to correct them to DOJ for inclusion in the annual report to the President and Congress.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

 

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