Although 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).