INS Management:

Follow-up on Selected Problems

GGD-97-132: Published: Jul 22, 1997. Publicly Released: Jul 22, 1997.

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GAO reviewed the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) progress in addressing long-standing management problems, focusing on whether INS had: (1) developed goals and priorities to guide planning and resource allocation; (2) revised its organizational structure; (3) improved internal communications and updated its field and administrative manuals; (4) improved the process of allocating budgetary resources; and (5) improved its capability to monitor its financial status.

GAO noted that: (1) INS has made progress toward addressing some of its management problems, but much remains to be done and top management attention is still required; (2) INS issued a strategic plan in 1994 to guide its decisionmaking and policymaking and to set the stage for the implementation of a priorities management process; (3) INS developed annual goals and priorities and used them in fiscal years 1995 and 1996 to plan and allocate new resources provided by Congress; (4) in addition, in 1994 the Commissioner established a new organizational structure with four Executive Associate Commissioners (EAC) and regional directors who report to one of the executive associate commissioners; (5) the reorganization reportedly has improved oversight of district offices and Border Patrol sectors but has also created some internal communication problems; (6) a lack of clear guidance has also hampered internal communication and may be impeding front-line employees in carrying out their mission-related activities; (7) INS implemented several initiatives intended to improve upon its processes for allocating budgetary resources; (8) INS made improvements in planning resource allocation to be more consistent with agencywide annual priorities and workload demands; (9) furthermore, INS has contracted with a consultant to develop a software program that is compatible with existing staffing models; (10) in addition, the consultant is to review and refine the deployment planning process and the prototype automated software support; (11) INS has had long-standing problems with its financial management system and is in the process of acquiring a new one; (12) INS selected a financial management system in March 1997, even though it had not defined its business processes before it selected the new system; (13) to mitigate the risks associated with its approach, INS plans to analyze its business processes during implementation of the new system, finalize a detailed implementation plan, and develop a risk management plan; (14) GAO did not determine how successful each individual INS action has been in addressing management problems; and (15) however, GAO's survey of INS managers conducted in the fall of 1995, a year after the Commissioner's initial policy and organizational changes, and subsequent interviews with INS managers, indicated that although many managers perceived that some initiatives were having a positive effect, communications problems and other challenges remained.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: INS was abolished before this recommendation could be implemented.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner, INS, should develop a strategy and schedule for periodically evaluating the new deployment planning process to help ensure that it is compatible with INS' key planning processes and provides information needed by managers to adequately plan for resource needs and make resource decisions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: INS was abolished before this recommendation was implemented.

    Recommendation: To help achieve the reorganization goals, the Commissioner, INS, should determine whether staffing levels need to be adjusted for Programs, Field Operations, and regional offices to accomplish their prescribed roles and responsibilities consistent with the respective mission and workloads for each office.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: INS was abolished before this recommendation could be implemented.

    Recommendation: To help achieve the reorganization goals, the Commissioner, INS, should incorporate into INS' current evaluation of the reorganization the issues raised in this report so that they can be addressed as INS attempts to fully achieve the goals of the reorganization.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: INS was abolished before this recommendation could be implemented.

    Recommendation: To help achieve the reorganization goals, the Commissioner, INS, should establish milestones for issuance of manuals or parts of manuals that can stand alone.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: INS was abolished before this recommendation was implemented.

    Recommendation: To help achieve the reorganization goals, the Commissioner, INS, should provide written guidance on the appropriate coordination and communication methods and channels between offices to include: (1) when and how Field Operations and Programs should coordinate and communicate with each other; (2) when and how the Office of Programs should coordinate and communicate with the regional offices and the districts and sectors; and (3) when and how the Office of Policy and Planning should coordinate and communicate with the other offices.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

  6. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: INS was abolished before this recommendation was implemented.

    Recommendation: To help achieve the reorganization goals, the Commissioner, INS, should provide written guidance to all INS managers on the responsibilities and authority of the EACs for Field Operations and Programs in relation to each other.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

  7. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation is no longer applicable because INS was abolished in March 2003.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner, INS, should take steps to mitigate the risks associated with INS' planned approach for acquiring a new financial management system. Such steps should include fully implementing plans to analyze its current financial management processes and determining future financial management process needs, finalizing a comprehensive implementation plan, and fully developing and implementing a risk management plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

 

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