Immigration and Naturalization Service:

Overview of Management and Program Challenges

T-GGD-99-148: Published: Jul 29, 1999. Publicly Released: Jul 29, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the management and program challenges facing the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

GAO noted that: (1) GAO and others have identified management and program challenges that have troubled INS for years; (2) GAO's management reports in 1991 and 1997 and related reviews have indicated that urgent attention should be given to INS' management challenges; (3) GAO pointed out significant issues related to INS': (a) strategic planning process; (b) organizational structure; (c) communications and coordination; and (d) financial management processes; (4) specifically, GAO noted that INS': (a) strategic planning required sustained management attention and commitment; (b) reorganization had created some uncertainty about organizational roles and responsibilities; (c) internal communications and coordination were problematic, as evidenced by outdated policies and procedures on how to implement immigration laws; and (d) financial management processes were weak, including outdated accounting systems, weak internal controls, and a lack of management emphasis on financial management; (5) in addition to these management challenges, program implementation issues at INS have been the focus of much of GAO's work; (6) GAO's reports on these issues have been related to INS' efforts to: (a) stem the flow of illegal aliens across the Southwest Border; (b) identify and remove criminal aliens from the country; (c) process applications for naturalization; (d) enforce workplace immigration laws; and (e) process aliens for expedited removal; (7) GAO recognizes that addressing these management and program challenges can be difficult; (8) in carrying out its mission, INS has to contend with issues of foreign policy, domestic policy, and intergovernmental relations; and (9) sustained top-level management commitment and monitoring are necessary to ensure that these challenges are addressed appropriately.

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