INS Budget:

Overhiring and Decline in Revenues Have Created Fiscal Stress

T-GGD/AIMD-99-129: Published: Mar 24, 1999. Publicly Released: Mar 24, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the fiscal year (FY) 2000 budget request for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), focusing on: (1) INS' overall fiscal condition in FY 1999; and (2) how factors such as overhiring and a decline in Examinations Fee applications have affected INS' fiscal situation.

GAO noted that: (1) after discussions with officials in INS, the Department of Justice, and the Office of Management and Budget, and based on GAO's analysis of INS budget documents, GAO concluded that INS is not experiencing an overall budget shortfall at this time; (2) the hiring policy that INS followed in FY 1998 in an attempt to meet congressional and administrative expectations resulted in INS having to commit a greater share of its FY 1999 budget to salaries and benefits than in prior years; (3) overall, however, INS has more discretionary funds than it had in FY 1998; (4) with respect to the Examinations Fee account, INS overestimated the number of applications it would receive and did not detect the consequent revenue shortfall for months because of computer programming errors; (5) when it became apparent that the anticipated revenues would not be realized, INS decided to seek reprogramming of funds from other accounts to cover the costs; (6) the overhiring and reduced Examinations Fee revenues contributed to most INS programs having less discretionary funding in FY 1999 than in FY 1998; and (7) although INS has not experienced an overall budget shortfall, the combination of higher personnel costs, declining Examinations Fee revenues, and the resultant need to reduce discretionary funding allocations to most programs has created fiscal stress for the agency.

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