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Highlights

& testimony before the Subcommittee on Immigration. Border Security, and Claims Commillee on the Judiciary. House of Representatives

Highlights of CA0-05-561

May 5, 2005

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Addressing Management Challenges That
Face Immigration Enforcement Agencies

Why GAO Did This Study

The Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) assumed
responsibility for the immigration
programs of the foriner
Immigration and Naturalization
Service (INS) in 2003. The three
DHS burchus with primary
responsibility for immigration
functions are HS. Customs and
Border Protection (CBP), U.S.
Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE), and US,
Citizenship and Immigration.
Services (CIS) This testimony
focuses on CDP and ICE, which
took over the inmigration
enforcement, fimetion. CBP is
responsible for functions related to
nispections and border patrol and
JCE is responsible for functions
related to investigations,
intelligence, detention, and
renotat,

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What GAO Found

A number of similar management challenges that had been experienced by
INS have continued in the new organizations now responsible for
immigration enforcement functions. In 2001, GAO testified that, while
restructuring may help address certain management challenges, INS faced
significant challenges in assembling the basic systems and processes that
any organization needs to accomplish its mission. These include clearly
delineated roles and responsibilities, policies and procedures that effectively
balance competing priorities, effective internal and external
communications and coordination, and automation systems that provide
accurate and timely information. In March 2003, the functions of the INS
were transferred to the new DIIS and placed in the newly-created ICE and
CBP. In 2004, we reported that many similar management challenges we
found at INS were still in existence in the new bureaus.

In evaluating solutions to ICE and CBP' management challenges, including
potential structural changes, several factors might be considered. The first
factor is whether ICE and CBP currently have good management
frameworks in place. Such a management framework, among other items,
would include a clear mission, a strategic planning process, good
organizational alignment, performance measures, and leadership and
accountability mechanisms. The second factor is whether ICE and CBP' have
developed systems and processes to support the management frameworks
they may have in place. The third factor is that the management challenges
in these two bureaus exist in the larger context of the creation and evolution
of DIIS. The transformation and integration activities at DIIS can take
5-7 years to accomplish, and some management challenges might be
resolved in this process.

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Summary

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

I am pleased to be here today to share our views on management challenges relating to the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), whose functions were formerly under the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the Customs Service, as this committee considers potential structural changes to enhance the enforcement of immigration laws. We have conducted numerous reviews of both specific programs and overall management in these components, and at the legacy agencies that preceded them. In my testimony today, I will discuss the following topics:

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A number of management challenges similar to those found at INS have
continued in the new organizations now responsible for immigration
enforcement functions. These INS management challenges included a lack
of clearly defined priorities and goals; difficulty determining whom to
coordinate with, when to coordinate, and how to communicate; and
inadequately defined roles resulting in overlapping responsibilities,
inconsistent program implementation, and ineffective use of resources. In
1999 and 2001, we testified on these management challenges before this
subcommittee. Our 2001 testimony concluded that, while restructuring
may help address certain management challenges, the new organization
would still face significant challenges in assembling the basic systems and
processes that any organization needs to accomplish its mission. These
systems and processes include clearly delineated roles and
responsibilities, policies and procedures that effectively balance

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Background

competing priorities, effective internal and external communications and coordination, and automation systems that provide accurate and timely information. We noted that unless these elements were established, enforcing our immigration laws, providing services to eligible aliens, and effectively participating in the government wide efforts to combat terrorism would be problematic regardless of how the immigration function was organized. In March 2003, the enforcement functions of the INS were transferred to the new DHS and placed in the newly-created ICE and CBP. In 2004, we reported that many similar management challenges we found at INS were in existence in the new bureaus.

In evaluating solutions to ICE and CBP management challenges, including potential structural changes, several factors may be considered. The first factor is whether ICE and CBP currently have a good management framework in place. Such a management framework, among other items, would include a clearly defined and articulated mission, a comprehensive strategic planning process for achieving the mission, an organizational alignment that supports the mission and strategy, performance measures to gauge their progress, and leadership and accountability mechanisms. The second factor is whether ICE and CBP have developed systems and processes to support such a management framework which assists management in resolving management challenges. For example, we have noted problems with ICE's disseminating guidance related to operational activities. The third factor involves recognizing that the management challenges in these two bureaus exist in the broader context of the creation and evolution of DHS the largest reorganization of the federal government in over 50 years. The experience of successful transformations and change management initiatives in large public and private organizations suggests that it can take 5-7 years until such initiatives are fully implemented and cultures are transformed in a substantial manner. Further, some management challenges at ICE and CBP might be affected by department-wide management initiatives. We designated DHS's transformation as a high-risk area in 2003.

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Immigration functions also include providing services or benefits to facilitate entry, residence, employment, and naturalization of legal immigrants; processing millions of applications each year, making the right adjudicative decision in approving or denying the applications; and rendering decisions in a timely manner.

When INS was abolished in 2003 by the Homeland Security Act of 2002,' its enforcement functions were transferred to two bureaus within the DHS. First, INS's interior enforcement programs investigations, intelligence, and detention and removal-were placed in ICE. Within ICE, investigators and intelligence analysts from former INS and the U.S. Customs Service were merged into the investigations and intelligence offices, while staff from former INS's detention and removal program were placed in the detention and removal office. Second, inspectors from former INS, Customs, and Agriculture and Plant Health Inspection Service, as well as former INS's Border Patrol agents were incorporated into CBP. Both CBP and ICE report to the Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security, who in turn reports to the Deputy Secretary of the DHS. For service functions, INS's Immigration Services Division, responsible for processing applications for immigration benefits, was placed in Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), which reports directly to the Deputy Secretary of DHS. Figure 1 shows the transition of INS functions into DHS.

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