April 1, 2002–September 30, 2002
Office of the Inspector General
HIGHLIGHTS OF OIG ACTIVITIES
Following are highlights of OIG activities during this reporting period.
April 1, 2002–September 30, 2002
|Allegations Received by the Investigations Division||6,132|
|Audit Reports Issued||227|
|Questioned Costs||$8.4 million|
|Funds Put To Better Use||$4.5 million|
|Recommendations for Management Improvements||454|
THE INS'S CONTACTS WITH TWO SEPTEMBER 11 TERRORISTS
In May 2002, the OIG issued a report entitled, The Immigration and Naturalization Service's Contacts With Two September 11 Terrorists: A Review of the INS's Admissions of Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, its Processing of Their Change of Status Applications, and its Efforts to Track Foreign Students in the United States. The OIG review found that the INS adjudication of Atta's and Alshehhi's change of status applications and its notification to the flight school where they were students were untimely and significantly flawed. The OIG also evaluated the INS's tracking systems for foreign students - its old paper-based system and the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), the Internet-based system that the INS is developing. The OIG found that the INS's paper-based tracking system is inefficient, inaccurate, and unreliable. We found that SEVIS has the potential to improve the INS's monitoring of foreign students, although the report noted continuing concerns with the implementation of SEVIS. The OIG made 24 recommendations to help address the problems highlighted by the Atta and Alshehhi cases and the problems found by the OIG's review of the INS's foreign student program.
THE FBI'S COUNTERTERRORISM PROGRAM
The OIG audited the FBI's management of aspects of its counterterrorism program from 1995 through April 2002. We found that the FBI has not developed a comprehensive written assessment of the risk of a terrorist threat facing the United States, despite its statement to Congress in 1999 that it would. We concluded that such an assessment would be useful not only to define the nature, likelihood, and severity of the threat but also to identify intelligence gaps that needed to be addressed. Moreover, we concluded that a comprehensive, written threat and risk assessment would be useful in determining where to allocate attention and resources. In addition, the FBI has not yet incorporated into its strategic plan (a document not updated since 1998) a comprehensive assessment of the threat and risk of terrorist attacks. Finally, the OIG report details the level of resources that the FBI has dedicated to counterterrorism and related counterintelligence between 1995 and 2002. The OIG made 14 recommendations to help improve management of the FBI's counterterrorism program. The FBI concurred with our recommendations and stated that they provide constructive guidance.
THE DEPARTMENT'S CONTROL OVER WEAPONS AND LAPTOP COMPUTERS
The OIG audited the controls over weapons and laptop computers at the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), DEA, FBI, and U.S. Marshals Service (USMS). The OIG had, in March 2001, reviewed property management practices at the INS, including the INS's control over weapons issued to its employees. In total, these Department components reported an inventory of about 150,000 weapons and 25,000 laptop computers. Our audits revealed substantial losses - collectively, the five components reported 775 weapons and 400 laptop computers as lost, missing, or stolen. These numbers do not reflect an additional 21 weapons that the FBI identified as lost, missing, or stolen as a result of an inventory that it concluded outside the scope of our audit period. The 400 laptop computers represent losses at the FBI, BOP, and USMS. At the time of our audit, the DEA was unable to determine its laptop computer losses because its inventory records were unreliable. The audit reports contained recommendations for stronger inventory practices and uniform policies to address safekeeping of weapons, better and more comprehensive reporting of lost or stolen items, and stronger attention to accountability issues. In a summary report that pulled together findings from the individual audits, the OIG made 13 recommendations to improve the management of sensitive property throughout the Department.
THE INS'S INSTITUTIONAL REMOVAL PROGRAM
The OIG concluded that the INS has not effectively managed the Institutional Removal Program (IRP), a program designed to identify removable aliens in federal, state, and local correctional facilities and deport them after they have served their sentences. The OIG found that the INS has not determined the nationwide population of foreign-born inmates, particularly at the county level. Without this information, the INS cannot properly quantify the resources it needs to identify and process all deportable inmates. As a result, we found that many potentially deportable foreign-born inmates passed through county jails virtually undetected and went on to commit additional crimes after being released into the community. Further, the INS did not always timely process IRP cases and therefore has been forced to detain criminal aliens released from state and local correctional facilities until deportation proceedings can be completed. In a sample of 151 cases of criminal aliens in INS custody, we identified a total of $2.3 million in IRP-related detention costs, of which $1.1 million was attributable to failures in the IRP process within the INS's control. The OIG made seven recommendations to strengthen the IRP program, including suggested measures to create greater cooperation from state and local governments in the INS's efforts to process and deport incarcerated criminal aliens. The INS concurred with the OIG's recommendations.
THE INS'S MONITORING OF NONIMMIGRANT OVERSTAYS
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, focused renewed attention on the importance of knowing when nonimmigrant visitors enter and depart the United States. The OIG's follow-up report to its 1997 review of the INS's monitoring of nonimmigrant overstays revealed that the INS had made little progress since 1997 in effectively dealing with nonimmigrant overstays. The OIG's follow-up review concluded that the INS still did not have a reliable system to track overstays, did not have a specific overstay enforcement program, and could not perform its responsibilities under the Visa Waiver Program to provide accurate data on overstays.
INS DOCUMENT FRAUD
A joint investigation by the OIG and the INS resulted in the arrest of 13 civilians, including 6 licensed medical doctors and 3 clinical psychologists, for conspiring to falsify documents and make fraudulent representations to the INS on behalf of over 600 naturalization applicants. The applicants, who were predominantly from Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon, had fraudulently sought to obtain medical disability waivers that would have exempted them from the language, literacy, and civics testing requirements of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act.