Panel praises ICE’s management improvements

Agency is trying to reverse staffing and financial problems

NAPA report on ICE financial action

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A financial plan for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency published earlier this year is a major step toward establishing internal stability and soundness, according to a National Academy of Public Administration panel that reviewed the plan.

If the Homeland Security Department supplements the plan with a new strategic focus to complement its tactical attention to financial integrity, the panel said, “ICE should be well-positioned to lead DHS forward financially.”

That’s a far cry from what the NAPA panel said about ICE a year ago. The panel had listed a series of events — loss of staff, leadership change within DHS, an unfamiliar financial system, changing expectations from DHS and others — that created “substantial and adverse financial issues in 2005.”

In a report it published last year, the Government Accountability Office said a major information technology modernization program for ICE was in danger of failing because the bureau had done minimal planning and management.

“ICE has too much transactional activity, information flow, accounting  requirements and analysis to manage without the aid of user-friendly and effective technology,” the panel said in the report.

“ICE will not be able to achieve major financial systems and IT improvements until DHS develops a more explicit IT strategic plan or framework from which to operate,” the panel wrote.

The panel recommended that ICE explicitly make technology part of the financial action plan. It also said ICE officials should work with DHS to identify the needs of the bureau, the department and its stakeholders. It should then develop alternative approaches to meet ICE’s technology needs if DHS guidelines are not available.

“If adequate IT systems are not available in the midterm, and certainly long-term,” the report states, “the gains of the past will be lost as the workload will exceed staff’s ability to perform, analyze and manage ICE financial demands.”

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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