INS User Fees:

INS Working to Improve Management of User Fee Accounts

GGD-94-101: Published: Apr 12, 1994. Publicly Released: Apr 12, 1994.

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Laurie E. Ekstrand
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) two major user fee accounts, focusing on: (1) the method INS used to establish its fees; (2) whether INS fees reflected actual service costs; (3) whether account expenditures were consistent with the purposes of the accounts; and (4) whether INS allocated its staff in proportion to its workload.

GAO found that: (1) INS established immigration application fees by identifying direct labor costs for application processing and adding a surcharge to cover the costs of processing asylum applications; (2) in establishing the fees, INS did not prorate indirect costs in proportion to direct costs; (3) INS is required to review the fee biennially and recommended a fee increase in 1993; (4) it could not determine the extent to which INS identified the full costs of providing service, but INS plans to determine the full cost of providing fee-related services; (5) fee account budgets and support costs have grown since 1990; (6) INS expenditures were consistent with the accounts' purposes, and management controls were adequate; (7) INS did not properly account for fees it collected for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) or reimburse EOIR for costs associated with the adjudication and naturalization of aliens; (8) INS and EOIR had no policies or procedures for managing EOIR fee revenue; and (9) INS did not allocate its adjudications and naturalization staff in proportion to its workload at its four largest districts, resulting in backlogs in application processing.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: INS conducted a fee study of the Examination Fee Account and established a method to assigning costs.

    Recommendation: In order to improve the methods INS uses to set its applications fee schedule, the Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to select a method that allocates indirect costs among application types in proportion to direct costs rather than using the fixed-dollar method that INS presently uses.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: INS completed its user fee study, which showed that the fees do not recover EOIR costs. INS has not established separate accounts for EOIR and therefore has not determined the amount to reimburse EOIR. INS has no further plans to account for EOIR fees. As part of a current assignment regarding application processing GAO will monitor only possible action by INS.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should establish policies and procedures for: (1) accounting for the EOIR fee revenues INS collects; and (2) making these funds available to EOIR, as appropriate.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice


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