CIO vacancy at INS drawing hits

If it isn't already in the mail, you have until next Thursday to submit your resume for the job of chief information officer at the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

"Applications must be complete and postmarked by July 18," the INS says in an online ad. Actually, you can apply online by e-mailing your application to {mailto:[email protected]} [email protected], a helpful INS official said.

The job pays up to $138,200, you must be a U.S. citizen and you'll be responsible for "the overall planning, development, coordination and evaluation of the information resources" at the INS.

It's likely to be a tough job. The INS is in the middle of a reorganization that will probably split it into two agencies — one to enforce immigration laws and tighten security at the nation's borders, and the other to handle such tasks as issuing green cards and changing visitors' visa status.

Critics in Congress have labeled the INS "the most dysfunctional agency in the federal government," and the agency's computer problems are legendary. The technology woes include a severe shortage of electronic readers for the millions of laser visa cards the agency has issued, and databases that routinely crash, preventing INS agents from matching incoming foreigners against lists of suspected terrorists.

Is the job attracting any interest? "Oh god, yes," an INS official official. "We've had over 500 hits on the Web," and other applications coming through the mail and through a search firm the agency hired.

James Ziglar, the INS commissioner, first mentioned the job last November when the Justice Department announced plans to overhaul the immigration agency, but it took until spring to get the position formally approved. Thus, the INS didn't begin actively searching for candidates until mid-May, the official said.

Ads for the CIO position were posted online at a number of sites, including CIO.com and USAJobs, but not on the INS site.

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