INS Delivery Bonds:

Stronger Internal Controls Needed

GGD-88-36: Published: Mar 7, 1988. Publicly Released: Mar 14, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined selected Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) enforcement activities relating to its delivery bond management to identify: (1) weaknesses in the INS bonding system that would contribute to bond-breaching problems; and (2) issues that INS should consider if it changes its bonding system.

GAO found that: (1) lack of agency-wide guidance has resulted in different bond amounts for aliens with similar backgrounds; (2) aliens breached bonds in 72 percent of the cases in which immigration judges reduced bond amounts and in 44 percent in which they did not; (3) INS was not sending notices to obligors for them to notify aliens of their scheduled hearings, thereby eliminating obligors' liability for nonappearance; (4) INS took an average of 130 days to bill obligors after it determined that bonds were breached, resulting in a backlog of unbilled breached bonds at an interest cost of $140 per day; (5) the billing problem in some regional offices resulted from low debt collection priority on unbreached bonds, insufficient staffing, and limited funds to pay overtime; (6) INS failed to notify its regional personnel of obligor appeals in order to suspend billing; and (7) INS proposed a formal rulemaking to eliminate the use of surety bonds and change to a cash-only bond system.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Due to the technicalities involved in implementing our recommendation and the fact that INS has not approved a cash-only bond system, INS does not believe it is feasible to pursue this recommendation.

    Recommendation: While INS is considering a change to a cash-only bond system, it has no plans at this time to analyze the full effect of such a change. The Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to determine the actions that must be taken and estimate the staff and money needed to carry out these actions during a transitional period. This should help INS make a more informed decision and determine whether changes to its internal control systems will be needed if it changes to a cash-only system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The current delivery bond system is being retained and actions are in progress to enhance management of the system. Interim procedures have been implemented and are being studied, but decisions will not be made until sometime in the future after a new INS commissioner is appointed.

    Recommendation: Should INS retain the current delivery bond system, the Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to establish time frames and procedures for ensuring that INS regional staff are notified of obligors' appeals and the results of such appeals, and establish procedures for regional personnel to properly handle billings and accounts receivable when appeals are received after the billing process has begun.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The current delivery bond system is being retained and actions are in progress to enhance management of the system. Interim procedures have been implemented and are being studied, but decisions will not be made until sometime in the future after a new INS commissioner is appointed.

    Recommendation: Should INS retain the current delivery bond system, the Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to monitor the billing practices for surety bonds to identify untimely billings.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Actions to be taken are under consideration and the issue is still being studied but decisions will not be made until sometime in the future after a new INS commissioner is appointed.

    Recommendation: Whether INS retains its current delivery bond system or changes to a cash-only bond system, the Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to establish and require the use of written guidelines to better ensure consistency among INS personnel in setting delivery bond amounts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Justice stated that in preparing its 1988 Integrity Act report, INS will again assess the operation of the delivery bond program to determine whether the internal control problems warrant reporting as material weaknesses or nonconformance.

    Recommendation: Pursuant to the Financial Integrity Act's requirements, the Commissioner, INS, should report to the Attorney General existing weaknesses in surety bond internal controls as being material, until improvements to the bonding system are implemented.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice: Immigration and Naturalization Service

 

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