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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 purpose of this section is to bring to the attention of INS management other matters that we noted during the audit. These matters are not part of our audit report's Findings and Recommendations section because, although significant, these matters were not directly related to our audit objectives.
Multiple Versions of Standardized INS Forms
During our audit, we found that field offices were using different versions of standard INS forms. Specifically, at Chicago we saw two versions of the Receipt for Funds and Valuables Transferred (G-714). We observed the Receipt for Funds and Valuables Transferred in use at two different points during the fee collection process at the airport. However, when we observed the transfer of fees from the POE to the Chicago District Office, we noted that a different version of the form was used to transfer the cash from the messenger to the deposit preparer.
The primary difference between the two versions is that the one used by the Chicago District Office required only one signature-that of the deposit preparer receiving the cash. That form did not contain a second signature block. We noted that the messenger did sign in one of the other columns on the form. In our judgment, the version of the form used by the district office is not adequate to ensure accountability. While the messenger did sign the form for fees transferred from the airport, we observed entries with only the deposit preparer's signature.
Because procedures at district offices are outside the scope of this audit, we did not pursue the matter. We believe, however, that INS management should ensure that all field offices use the proper forms to ensure accountability for collections and provide consistency INS-wide.
The INS's Proposed Purchase of Cash Registers
In January 2002, we met with officials from the INS's Office of Field Operations and Office of Finance to discuss the results of our audit. They told us that the INS intends to eventually purchase cash registers for all POEs. The official from Field Operations told us that the equipment ranged in price from approximately $3,000 for a cash register with the minimum capabilities the INS wanted to approximately $3,600 for one that included video capabilities. He said that until the events of September 11, 2001, the purchase of 450 of these cash registers was fully funded.
The INS intended a major purchase of cash registers as one of the corrective actions for an OIG audit report issued March 1995, Cash Collections at Districts and Ports in the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Report Number 95-10. However, the purchase of that cash register system never materialized, also due to lack of funding.
We agree that equipment which gives INS management real-time information would be a significant improvement and provide additional controls over fee collections. Nonetheless, based on the work from our recent audit at land border POEs and our work on this current audit, we do not believe that 450 cash registers are sufficient to equip all land and air POEs that collect fees. Therefore, the INS's current efforts to improve controls at the land border POEs and the corrective actions needed to tighten controls at the air POEs using the handwritten receipt system should continue.
As the INS pursues the purchase of a new cash register system, we believe it is incumbent on INS management to complete an adequate assessment prior to its implementation so that the benefits are maximized. A comprehensive plan is necessary to ensure that:
In our judgment, the new system will have to be phased in and will be subject to funding and other factors that are outside the INS's control, such as changes in the Department's priorities. We also believe many small, low-volume POEs and POEs that perform remote inspections will continue to need an adequate handwritten receipt system in place until enough equipment is purchased to fully automate the fee collection process.