USDOJ/OIG - Semiannual Report to Congress, April 1, 1999 - September 30, 1999

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The Inspections Division
The Inspections Division assesses Department programs and activities and makes recommendations for improvements in programs, policies, and procedures.

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Inspections Division

Overview and Highlights

The Inspections Division (Inspections) provides the IG with an alternative mechanism to traditional audits and investigations through program evaluations and policy assessments that assess the effectiveness of Department operations. Inspections relies on its multidisciplinary workforce and ability to quickly address diverse issues.

Inspections is located in Washington, D.C., and is directed by the Assistant Inspector General for Inspections. The staff is composed of program analysts who are assigned to one of two evaluation offices—the Office of Immigration and Law Enforcement Evaluations or the Office of Corrections and Legal Evaluations. This structure enables Inspections to maintain subject matter expertise and establish collaborative relationships with Department component staff in their respective issue areas.

During this reporting period, Inspections assessed whether INS is justified in continuing its effort to remove the statutory exemption from payment of the immigration user fee afforded certain cruise ship passengers. Inspections also completed its assessment of individual grants awarded to eligible states under the Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth-in-Sentencing (VOI/TIS) Incentive grant program and issued a summary report on observations and findings from its 25 individual VOI/TIS grant reviews.


Significant Inspections


Cruise Ship Exemption from User Fees

INS requested that the OIG review whether certain cruise ship passengers should be exempted from paying an immigration user fee. Each passenger, unless specifically exempted by law, must pay a $6 immigration user fee for air or sea port-of-entry inspection services. The single largest category of persons exempt from paying the fee are passengers on cruise ships operating in the Caribbean waters.

The Immigration User Fee Account (IUFA) funds INS inspection operations at air and sea ports-of-entry. The entities that issue passenger tickets collect and deposit immigration user fees into the IUFA. IUFA obligations are exceeding receipts; INS projects the IUFA will face a $54 million deficit during FY 2000.

Our inspectors concluded that INS is justified in requesting the removal of the user fee exemption for cruise ship passengers who receive an inspection service. In 1990, Congress removed a similar exemption for airline passengers, citing a "fundamental inequity" that prevented the charging of all air passengers equally. Since FY 1994, cruise ship passengers have accounted for 9.48 percent of all INS inspections at air and sea ports-of-entry, yet have contributed only 0.59 percent of the fees collected.

However, our inspectors found that removal of the exemption for cruise ship passengers will be insufficient to provide INS a long-term solution to shortages in the IUFA. Therefore, INS must investigate other options to address the projected IUFA funding crisis or examine the issues related to the increasing costs of providing inspection services at air and sea ports-of-entry.

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Significant Inspections

Violent Offender Incarceration And Truth-in-Sentencing Incentive Grant Program: Summary of Findings and Recommendations

Under the Crime Act, OJP awards grants to eligible states to increase secure confinement space for violent offenders and to encourage implementation of truth-in-sentencing (TIS) laws that require violent offenders to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence imposed.

At the Attorney General's request, inspectors conducted state reviews to ensure that the states were meeting program requirements, implementing TIS laws, and properly expending federal grant funds. From May 4, 1997, through March 31, 1999, the OIG reviewed and issued reports that evaluated the progress of 25 states in implementing and complying with the requirements of the VOI/TIS grant program. Inspectors examined whether the states were planning to follow the TIS laws after federal funding ends, increasing bed space for violent offenders, and complying with other financial and programmatic requirements of the grant program. To accomplish these objectives, the inspectors examined four areas: the grant application information, TIS and state correctional strategies, state grant construction projects, and administrative and financial controls. The current report provides an overview of what we found in the individual reports.

We found the following trends:

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Significant Inspections

OJP and state officials have been responsive to the recommendations for corrective actions and have provided evidence that administrative and financial controls have improved. OJP also has offered technical assistance to states where needed.


Other Activities

Inspections Advisory Notice

During our inspection of the Cruise Ship Exemption from User Fees, the OIG found that the law and regulation defining which cruise ship passengers should be charged an immigration user fee were not interpreted uniformly within INS. The OIG brought the matter to the attention of INS management so it could be appropriately addressed.


Follow-Up Activities


Unresolved Inspections

DOJ Order 2900.10, Follow-up and Resolution Policy for Inspection Recommendations by the Office of the Inspector General, requires inspection reports to be resolved within six months of the report issuance date. As of September 30, one INS inspection report, Voluntary Departure: Ineffective Enforcement and Lack of Sufficient Controls Hamper the Process, was unresolved. The OIG received INS' response to the inspection report and continues to work with INS to resolve it.

The chart below summarizes Inspections' accomplishments for the 6-month reporting period ending September 30, 1999.


Inspections Statistics

Inspections Workload Accomplishments Number of Inspections
Inspections active at beginning of period 13
Inspections canceled 4
Inspections initiated 3
Final inspection reports issued 2
Inspections active at end of reporting period 10