INS Automation Blasted

February 27, 1997

INS Automation Blasted

The Immigration and Naturalization Service's $2.2 billion automation of many of its major functions is up to two years behind schedule and its managers have no idea if the automation is within cost limits, the Justice Department's inspector general told Congress yesterday.

Inspector General Michael Bromwich told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary that INS project managers lack "definitive measures" to track if their various automation projects are on schedule.

While praising two of INS's initiatives, a motion sensor project on the U.S.-Mexico border and a system that tracks refugees, Bromwich criticized three of the largest programs: a fingerprint identification system, an automated system to process illegal immigrants, and "Inspass," an airport immigration inspection system to allow frequent low-risk travelers to bypass lengthy inspection procedures.

An INS spokesman told The New York Times that the agency is having difficulties with some of the projects, but said much of that has to do with increases in the level of immigration that it must monitor. The INS estimates it now deals with 5 million illegal immigrants living in the United States and another 275,000 a year crossing the border or overstaying their visas. The spokesman said INS is working to get the behind-schedule programs back on track.

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