Justice working on IT policy for INS

GAO Report: INS Needs to Strengthen Its Investment Management Capability

The Justice Department is developing an information technology management policy for the Immigration and Naturalization Service and expects to issue guidance for establishing it by March.

Justice's efforts are noted in a recent General Accounting Office report that concluded INS needed to strengthen its ability to manage its IT investments. Justice began work on the policy late last year during GAO's investigation, according to the GAO report.

In the report, GAO credited INS with taking some steps to build a sound IT investment strategy. The agency, the report noted, has established a board of IT and senior business executives as a central decision-making body for agency IT projects. INS also has set up and followed a framework for developing and selecting new IT proposals.

But INS has not yet set up a process to ensure that IT projects meet established cost and schedule expectations, and it has not clearly identified business needs for each of its projects or trained its IT staff to identify business needs, according to GAO.

"As a result, INS' limited investment control capabilities significantly increase the chances that its IT projects will be late, cost more than expected, not perform as intended, and not deliver promised business value," GAO concluded.

The GAO report held no surprises to the INS, according to agency spokesman Greg Gagne. GAO, along with Justice officials, has previously reviewed INS' information technology programs.

"We've been fully aware all along of where some of things were and where they need to be," he said. "But, fundamentally, even with that, you know there is a time-and-motion issue of what it takes to get [solutions] in place and, meanwhile, continue to operate and meet the demands of the business of the agency."

Gagne said developing enterprise architecture "is a very labor intensive, complex process across an entire agency." But the work is getting done, he said, headed by a manager working directly under the deputy commissioner of INS.

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