Set-Asides

Rep. renews effort to split INS

Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) last week renewed his push to split the Immigration and Naturalization Service into two agencies: one agency that will focus on enforcing the border and one that will focus on citizenship processing and services.

Rogers last year proposed a similar measure in a bill that would have created a Bureau of Enforcement and Border Affairs within the Justice Department, leaving INS to focus on the granting of benefits, such as naturalization, to legal immigrants.

INS critics have argued that the agency's two missions conflict: It is a tough defender of the nation's borders while also being a benefactor that naturalizes legal immigrants.

Defenders of the current INS organization have said that separating the enforcement function from the service function could imperil the sharing of data useful for both functions. For example, INS computer systems can provide enforcement workers with information they can use to conduct background checks and verify identities while giving INS staff members information to make sure that only eligible immigrants receive benefits.

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Revisions made to audit bill

Government officials have recommended revisions to a bill that would fund improvements to agencies' financial management computer systems by employing a common commercial auditing strategy to reclaim excess payments to contractors.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), would require agencies to follow the commercial practice known as recovery auditing and would allow agencies to spend up to 50 percent of the recovered money on improving management programs, including programs for new information technology.

The bill would allow agencies to conduct recovery audits for payments that exceed $10 million, but that threshold might be too low, said Deidre Lee, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and acting deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget.

A company typically recovers $1 million for every $1 billion it audits, Lee said at a hearing of the House Government Management, Information and Technology Subcommittee last month. That means recovery audits conducted on $10 million in payments would result in gross collections of just $10,000, and thus "recovery audits may not be cost-effective at a low threshold," Lee said.

Comptroller General David Walker said the General Accounting Office supports the concept of recovery auditing, but he said it should not be mandated.

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