Management briefs

Staff shortages slow INS lab

The Immigration and Naturalization Service's Forensic Document Laboratory performs valuable work, but it faces challenges, including forensic staff shortages and data limitations, a General Accounting Office report found.

The lab is the federal government's only forensic laboratory dedicated almost exclusively to examining fraudulent documents. However, staff shortages have made it hard for the lab to keep up with its workload, GAO found.

Also, the lab's database, called the Forensic Automated Case and Evidence Tracking System, does not contain sufficient data for managers to know the exact size and status of its pending workload, how much time is spent on each case by priority category and how best to assign staff to improve processing time.

INS Commissioner James Ziglar agreed with the observations and recommendations of the report, saying the agency is evaluating requirements for an "enhanced automated case management system."

Justice system speeds info

The Justice Department now has a Web-based system to notify victims of federal crimes about changes in the status of their cases, AT&T announced April 15.

The national Victim Notification System allows crime victims to register to receive notification about such events as court proceedings and information about the release of a defendant.

The new system includes a secure intranet site for the federal victims and witness coordinators to enter information. It also has a centralized system to provide automated notification to victims via letter, e-mail, fax or pager.

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