Redstone - Immigration and Naturalization Homeland Security Management Alert.pngAlthough Redstone Government Consulting. Inc., makes every attempt to avoid blogs which are overtly political, we’ve taken note of a DHS OIG (Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General) “Management Alert” which coincidentally provides some indirect validation to the Executive Order which suspends US refugee intake for 120 days, and places a 90-day moratorium on citizens of seven countries (entering the United States).   As we all endure the divisive rhetoric directed at the Executive Order, it may or may not be coincidental that there has been no media mention of the DHS OIG Management Alert, dated January 19, 2017.

Unlike many OIG reports, the “management alert” is only four pages; hence, easy to navigate and the “punchline” isn’t hard to find.   What is the punchline? It is succinctly stated in the opening paragraph of the management alert.:

“We are recommending that USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) halt plans to revert to using the Electronic Immigration System (ELIS) to process immigrant naturalization applications until it successfully addresses identified system deficiencies.   In March 2016, we previously reported system functionality and performance problems prevalent in two product lines…Our subsequent review is now discovering alarming security concerns regarding inadequate applicant background checks, as well as significant USCIS problems in using ELIS to process naturalization benefits for immigrants.   Because of the problems encountered, USCIS decided in August 2016 to revert to legacy processing and discontinue using ELIS.   We have been informed that USCIS is now considering a return to processing naturalization applications in ELIS. Because of significant unresolved functional and technical issues surrounding ELIS, we advise against it until corrective actions are taken to ensure security and integrity in naturalization benefits processing……. Although we are only in the beginning phases of our review, we have already identified significant operational and security issues that pose grave concern  and merit your attention and corrective action.”

Included in the list of operational challenges is “Deficiencies in Background and Security Checks for Applicants.” That challenge is summarized as: “Without sufficient vetting, immigrants could potentially be granted US citizenship although they are ineligible or pose national security threats”. Towards the end of the management alert, the DHS OIG repeats that “Recently, we learned of an impending decision by USCIS leadership to return to ELIS processing in late January 2017. We are concerned about the feasibility and risk of such a decision given all of the ELIS problems that remain unresolved”.

For the record, the DHS-OIG issues numerous reports, but very few “management alerts”.   The most recent management alert was in October 2015 (related to Secret Service understaffing and fatigue).   In the case of the January 19, 2017 management alert, it remains to be seen why the USCIS was attempting to return to using a system which was known to contain operational and security challenges. These were identified by USCIS Field Agents; hence, not something unknown but for the DHS OIG management alert.. A doubter could theorize that the DHS OIG was trying to earn points with its new “boss” (Mr. Trump); but that theory disintegrates when one considers that the issue dates back to before March 2016 when Mr. Trump was given no chance of winning the presidential election. Only USCIS management can explain their rationale for reverting back to ELIS (not that they would be the first government agency to prematurely implement a system).      

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Written by Michael Steen

Mike Steen is a Senior Advisor with Redstone Government Consulting, Inc. and a specialist in complex compliance issues to include major contractor cost accounting & business system regulations, financial compliance, resolution of DCAA audit issues, Cost Accounting Standards application, litigation support, and claims preparation. Prior to joining Redstone Government Consulting, Mike served in a number of capacities with DCAA for over thirty years, and upon his retirement, he was one of the top seven senior executives with DCAA. Mike Served as a Regional Director for two DCAA regions, and during that time was responsible for audits of approximately $25B and 800 employees. In October 2001, he was selected for the Senior Executive Service and in 2006 he received the Presidential Rank Award. During Mike’s tenure with DCAA, he was involved in conducting or managing a variety of compliance audits, to include cost proposals, billing systems, Cost Accounting Standards, claims, defective pricing, and then-evolving programs such as restructuring, financial capability and agreed-upon procedures. He directly supported the government litigation team on significant contract disputes and has prepared and presented various lectures and seminars to DCAA staff and business community leaders. Since joining Redstone Government Consulting in June 2007, Mike has developed and presented training and seminars on Government Contracts Compliance to NCMA, Federal Publications Seminars and various clients. Mike also is a prolific contributor of written articles to government contracting publications, as well as to our own Government Insights Newsletter. Mike also serves as the director of our training service offerings, with responsibilities for preparing and developing course content as well as instructing our seminars to clients and general audiences throughout the U.S. Mike also serves as a faculty instructor for the Federal Publications Seminars organization. Education Mike has a BS Degree in Business Administration from Wichita State University. He is also a graduate of the DCAA Director’s Fellowship Program in Management, and has a Masters Degree in Administration from Central Michigan University. Mr. Steen also completed a number of OPM’s management and executive development courses.

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