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Immigration and Naturalization Service Collection of Fees at Air Ports of Entry
Report No. 02-42
Office of the Inspector General
The Immigration and Naturalization Service collects user fees for processing various types of applications and petitions for immigration benefits. The fees, usually in the form of cash, are deposited into the Immigration Examinations Fee Account.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) previously identified weaknesses in the INS's fee collections in an audit issued in February 2000, Report Number 00-05, Immigration and Naturalization Service Collection of Fees at Land Border Ports of Entry. After our audit, the INS revised its procedures in July 2000 to strengthen controls at air, land, and sea ports of entry (POEs). Although these revisions addressed both the cash register and the manual receipts fee collection procedures, the primary focus of the revisions was on cash register procedures. However, few air POEs use cash registers. Most use the manual receipt system or some version of the Forms Integration Management System, an automated system designed to provide an efficient method to collect and arrange port-specific administrative data into a usable format.
In this audit, we reviewed the fee collections process at air ports of entry to determine if the INS's new procedures and controls over the process were adequate to ensure that the fees collected were properly accounted for and deposited timely. We also reviewed selected fee collection workload statistics to determine if the fees collected reconciled with the deposits made.
Our audit work included observing the process and reviewing accounting records at a sample of eight air POEs and the INS's Debt Management Center. The eight air POEs had deposits totaling approximately $2.5 million during the period of October 1, 2000, through June 30, 2001.
Fees collected at air POEs are usually in the form of cash and are highly vulnerable to loss or theft. We concluded that with the manual receipt procedures currently in place, air POEs do not have adequate controls to reduce the inherent risks of error and misappropriation. Further, until each POE makes its own deposits and reports deposits separately to the Debt Management Center, INS managers cannot determine the total amount of fees collected or validate the accuracy of some of their monthly workload statistics.
We concluded that the INS has no assurance that material losses have not occurred because:
Our audit also found that neither we nor INS managers are assured of the accuracy or completeness of either the financial data in the Financial Accounting and Control System or the statistical data in the Performance Analysis System. We also concluded that there is substantial opportunity for funds to be lost or stolen with little or no chance of detection.
We make several recommendations in this report to improve the safeguards over the collection of fees at air POEs including that the INS:
We also recommend that managers at the POEs strengthen controls in fee collections by ensuring adequate segregation of duties, maintaining close supervision over the entire process, restricting access to the cash collected and the associated accounting records, and performing adequate reconciliations of the cash, receipts, and applications processed. For the most part, the INS concurred with our recommendations and proposed corrective action to take place over the next year. However, INS's responses to our recommendations on discontinuing the use of FIMS, developing sufficient criteria and comparative reports for periodic review and reconciliation between the accounting system and the Performance Analysis System, and modifying the Inspection Summary Report (G.22), did not propose sufficient corrective action or a timetable for implementation. Therefore, this report is currently unresolved.
The audit results and our recommendations are discussed in greater detail in the Findings and Recommendations section of this report. Our audit objectives, scope, and methodology appear in Appendix I. A list of forms used during the fee collection and deposit process and a brief description of each is in Appendix II.