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Follow-Up Audit of the Immigration and Naturalization Service's Airport Inspection Facilities

Report No. 03-10
January 2003
Office of the Inspector General



The objectives of the audit were to assess whether: (1) the INS took timely action to implement the recommendations from the December 2000 report and (2) actions taken have resulted in improvements at the airports we identified as having the most serious deficiencies. We performed our audit in accordance with Government Auditing Standards issued by the Comptroller General of the United States and, accordingly, included procedures that we considered necessary. The audit focused on the actions the INS took and the causes for the INS's failure to implement the four recommendations outlined in the prior audit report. We interviewed officials, examined internal and external reports covering the period October 1, 2000 through August 31, 2002, and conducted reviews in June 2002 at selected airports.

We interviewed INS headquarters and airport staff to determine what actions they had taken to implement the prior audit recommendations and the reasons for the INS's failure to take corrective actions. We reviewed the INS's internal G-22 activity report, significant incident reports, and obtained testimonial evidence about incidents caused by the condition of facilities.

We also obtained the INS's latest design and construction requirements and incorporated them, where appropriate, into the inspection facilities review checklist we used to conduct our audit. In February 2002, the INS published its latest requirements for the design and construction of inspection facilities at air ports-of-entry.8


To determine the extent of corrective actions the INS took to improve facilities, we conducted on-site follow-up reviews in June 2002 at the following 12 airports: We selected 10 of these airports (all but [SENSITIVE INFORMATION DELETED]) based on: (1) the high number of aliens referred for secondary inspection during FY 2001, and (2) the high number of deficiencies identified during our prior audit. Aliens are referred to secondary inspection for additional interviews and further examination of their travel documents. In our judgment, aliens referred for secondary inspection pose a greater risk. We used the number of deficiencies identified during our prior audit as a measure of the likelihood of an undesirable event such as an escape, absconding, or injury to the alien or others. We then combined both of these factors to select the 10 airports we believe pose the greatest risk.

In addition, we reviewed [SENSITIVE INFORMATION DELETED] because of security concerns resulting from the September 11, 2001, attacks. The 12 airports we reviewed account for [SENSITIVE INFORMATION DELETED] percent of all aliens referred to secondary inspection during FY 2001.

During our reviews of the facilities we also conducted tests to determine whether key security systems and equipment were operable. We randomly tested doors to determine whether they were locked, equipped with alarms, and sounded the alarm when the door was opened. We also determined whether sounded alarms were reported to a central location such as the command center or airport security. In addition, we determined whether cameras were operable, properly located, and monitored.

As part of our audit process, we routinely ask management of the organization audited to furnish us with a signed management representation letter. In this letter, INS management would certify to us that: (1) they provided us with all standards, internal reports, memoranda, and other documentation associated with the design and construction of inspection facilities at airports; and (2) there are no relevant management and internal control matters, compliance matters, contingencies, irregularities, or subsequent events of which our staff has not been made aware. As of the date of issuance of this report, the INS Executive Associate Commissioner for Management declined to sign the letter. Therefore, our findings are qualified to the extent that we may not have been provided with all relevant information by INS management.


  1. We compared them to previously published requirements and found they had not changed. However, the latest publication also included more specific requirements for the secondary processing area, interview rooms, command center, and in-transit lounges.