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Immigration and Naturalization Service
Management of Property

Report No. 01-09
March 2001
Office of the Inspector General


The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) administers the nation's immigration laws and has a variety of inter-related functions. The INS: (1) conducts immigration inspections of travelers entering (or seeking to enter) the country as they arrive at designated ports of entry, (2) regulates permanent and temporary immigration to the United States, (3) maintains control of U.S. borders, and (4) identifies and removes people who have no lawful immigration status in this country.

The scope of INS activities is worldwide. In addition to INS Headquarters in Washington, D.C., the agency divides its activities among 3 Regional Offices, 33 District Offices, and 21 Border Patrol Sectors in the United States; 3 District Offices overseas; and many other smaller offices and duty stations in the United States and abroad.

The purpose of this audit was to review the INS's controls to ensure that its property was safeguarded against waste, loss, unauthorized use, and misappropriation. Our objectives were to determine the: (1) adequacy of management controls over property, (2) extent of compliance with laws and regulations, and (3) reliability of property management records. To assess reliability, we examined the accuracy and completeness of selected information in the INS's automated Asset Management Information System (AMIS).


In 1997, in an attempt to correct some of the weaknesses noted in its financial statement audit, INS managers requested that the OIG assist them in developing appropriate actions to correct deficiencies in accounting for and reporting capitalized property. In May 1998, we issued OIG Audit Report 98-14, which identified the primary reasons that AMIS did not provide adequate support for the INS's general ledger. After the completion of the audit on capitalized property, we initiated fieldwork to assess the adequacy of the INS's property management system in general. This report is a product of that effort.

Overview of INS Property System

The INS uses AMIS to manage property throughout the organization. The INS fully implemented AMIS in March 1996 as a consolidated property management system. AMIS replaced separate property management systems, including systems that supported, managed, and accounted for automated data processing equipment, vehicles, weapons, and other accountable property. AMIS is used to record and report information on property from acquisition to disposal. The system is password protected and users are given varying levels of access based upon their responsibilities. In total, the INS estimates that AMIS is used at over 158 locations.

AMIS is the only approved property management system in the INS. If an item of property is not recorded in AMIS it will not be subject to inventory and is therefore vulnerable to loss or theft.

Within the INS, the Office of Administration has responsibility for the maintenance and management of the property records within AMIS in coordination with the Office of Information Resource Management (OIRM). Other Headquarters managers, District Directors, Chief Patrol Agents, Asylum Office Directors, and Service Center Directors have been designated as Primary Property Custodians and are responsible for the physical custody of all personal property within their jurisdiction or office. Generally, the Property Custodians' responsibilities include ensuring complete and accurate entry of data into AMIS, conducting physical inventories, and reporting through proper channels lost or stolen property. Primary Property Custodians can be assisted by Subordinate Property Custodians. For example, the Primary Property Custodian should delegate authority for weapons to a Firearms Control Officer, when appropriate.

In July 1998, the INS Commissioner established the requirement for an annual Service-wide inventory of all personal property with an initial cost of over $5,000, all firearms, and all vehicles. The Service-wide inventory for all non-weapon items is submitted to property management staff located in INS Headquarters or Administrative Centers for reconciliation and is subject to independent audit. All weapon inventories are sent to the National Firearms Unit (NFU) for reconciliation and review.

In addition, a local biennial inventory is required for seven categories of property with costs ranging from $1,001 to $5,000. 2 The biennial inventory is neither independently audited nor reconciled, but is subject to inspection by the INS Office of Internal Audit (OIA) and other property management reviews. Except for body armor and admission/approval stamps, property costing $1,000 or less is not subject to physical inventory according to INS policy.

Audit Approach

To begin the audit, we requested that the INS provide a complete AMIS database so that we could establish the property universe. At the time of our review, AMIS contained records for 339,632 items with an estimated acquisition cost 3 of $648,850,006.

We analyzed the database to determine its composition both by type of property and by cost. Types of property were identified as computer equipment, firearms, communications equipment, vehicles, aircraft, or "all other." (Refer to Appendix I for details.) These items were located at INS facilities throughout the United States and in several locations worldwide.

To assess the accuracy of AMIS, we first divided the universe into three categories by cost as shown in the following table.

Categories Number of Items Total Acquisition Cost Testing Methodology
A. Items with cost greater than or equal to $1 million 12 $18,961,715 100% Review
B. Items with cost less than $1 million but greater than $2 and all firearms 300,236 $629,885,361 Statistical Sample
C. Items with cost less than or equal to $2 4 39,384 $2,930 Judgmental Review
Total Property Items in AMIS Database 339,632 $648,850,006  

From Category A, we attempted to locate the entire population of 12 items. Property was considered located if we saw it or we were provided satisfactory documentation that it was excessed, destroyed, or existed at another location.

From Category B, we attempted to locate 1,205 items that were statistically selected so that we could project our audit results to the entire population of 300,236. This projection illustrates the magnitude of deficiencies.

In Category C, about 36,000 (91 percent) of the total 39,384 property items were reported in AMIS with a "$0" cost. This occurrence raises immediate "common sense" questions as to the data's validity. We selected a small judgmental sample (37 items) for more detailed analysis.

To determine completeness of data in AMIS, we performed two additional tests. First, we judgmentally selected 679 property items observed on-site and attempted to trace them to AMIS. Second, we judgmentally selected 198 local property purchases and attempted to trace the items to AMIS.

Finding I includes the results of the above tests. Finding II represents our expanded analyses of weapons identified by the INS as lost, missing, or stolen. During the course of our analyses and observations during testing, we noted additional issues that should be of concern to INS management. These issues are discussed throughout the Findings and Recommendations section of this report.


  1. The seven categories are: automated data processing equipment, specified telephones/pagers, consensual monitoring/surveillance equipment, radios, fingerprint equipment, body armor, and admission/approval stamps. For each of these categories, the Property Handbook contains a listing of specified pieces of property to be inventoried.

  2. Throughout the remainder of this report we use the term "costs" to mean estimated acquisition costs as reported in AMIS unless specifically stated otherwise.

  3. We judgmentally selected the $2 threshold because, after analyzing the AMIS database, that was a logical threshold from which a sample could be selected to determine the accuracy of valuations.