Immigration and Naturalization Service:

Information on the Disposition of Naturalization Cases and on Courtesy as a Factor in Employee Performance Appraisals

GGD-00-132R: Published: May 23, 2000. Publicly Released: Jun 5, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) naturalization application processing, focusing on: (1) the disposition of naturalization cases from the Chicago District Office that were lost at the Nebraska Service Center in 1997 or 1998; and (2) determining if INS employee performance appraisals included a dimension pertaining to the courteousness with which staff provide service to customers.

GAO noted that: (1) recurrent problems with transferring naturalization case data from one automated system used by the service centers to another used by district offices caused cases to be inadvertently dropped at the Nebraska Service Center, as well as the other three INS service centers, according to an INS Nebraska Service Center official; (2) data were not available on the number of cases that were inadvertently dropped during transfer; (3) an official from the Nebraska Service Center estimated that about 4,000 naturalization cases were inadvertently dropped during the data transfer for the Chicago district during fiscal years 1997 and 1998; (4) an official from the California Service Center also told GAO that this problem occurred at all four service centers; (5) the official estimated that all over 44,000 naturalization cases were inadvertently dropped at the California Service Center during the data transfer for the Los Angeles district during fiscal years 1997 and 1998; (6) officials from both of these service centers said that staff identified the cases that were inadvertently dropped during the data transfer and manually entered the case data into INS' automated case management system; (7) since INS did not have a list of the specific cases that were inadvertently dropped, it could not determine how many of these cases had been adjudicated; (8) on May 1, 2000, INS directed its field offices to undertake new initiatives to ensure that all individuals who submitted naturalization applications before July 1, 1998, would be interviewed by September 30, 2000; (9) although the particular problem that caused naturalization cases to be inadvertently dropped during data transfers in fiscal years 1997 and 1998 no longer exists, according to INS Nebraska and California Service Center officials, new instances of dropped cases during data transfers have occurred with INS' deployment of a new naturalization automated case tracking system; (10) GAO plans to include further information on this issue as part of GAO's ongoing review of INS' application processing; (11) the INS offices that GAO contacted generally had courtesy or tactfulness as a performance standard on the appraisal forms of employees who routinely deal with the public; (12) INS' Chicago District Office, Nebraska Service Center, and California Service Center included this standard for employees who routinely deal with the public at those offices; and (13) the Los Angeles District Office included this standard for one of the three positions that routinely deal with the public at that office, but did not include it for the other two positions.

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