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Immigration and Naturalization Service Management of Property
Report No. 01-09
March 2001
Office of the Inspector General


The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is responsible for administering and enforcing the nation's immigration laws. The INS's strategic goals include improving service delivery of benefits to the public, securing U.S. borders against illegal migration, facilitating lawful travel and commerce, deterring unlawful migration, and expediting the removal of illegal aliens. In Fiscal Year 1999, the INS had over 28,000 employees, an annual budget of approximately $3.9 billion, and a property inventory of over $640 million. The major categories of INS property include vehicles, computer equipment, communications equipment, firearms, aircraft, and "other" items.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Audit Division, conducted this audit to assess the INS's controls for ensuring that property was safeguarded against waste, loss, unauthorized use, and misappropriation. Our audit objectives were to determine the: (1) adequacy of management controls over property, (2) extent of compliance with laws and regulations related to property management, and (3) reliability of property management records. To assess reliability, we examined the accuracy and completeness of selected information maintained in the Asset Management Information System (AMIS). AMIS is an automated database designed to record and report information on INS property from acquisition to disposal.

In general, we found that the INS did not adequately account for property and that immediate corrective actions are necessary. Tightened accountability of property helps prevent waste, loss, unauthorized use, or misappropriation. More specifically, we concluded that the INS:

  • could not account for at least 61,000 property items with a total acquisition cost of over $68.9 million.1
  • did not record on AMIS property costing at least $860,000, based on audits of 26 of over 150 locations where AMIS is used.
  • did not properly perform and document physical inventories or provide sufficient training for Property Custodians.
  • did not provide adequate control over computer equipment with a unit cost of $1,000 or less that had data storage capabilities. The property was vulnerable to loss or theft and, as a result, sensitive data stored in the machines may be compromised.
  • did not adequately document the return of property by law enforcement officers who left the agency.
In addition to these deficiencies, we found troubling results when we analyzed the status of 539 weapons that had been identified by the INS as being lost, missing, or stolen. Specifically, INS staff did not routinely report the status of these weapons through proper channels and, as a result, did not initiate timely follow-up action to resolve each instance of an unaccounted for weapon. We identified at least six instances in which INS weapons were linked to the commission of a crime and were subsequently recovered by local law enforcement agencies.

As a result of our audit, INS management recognized its control weaknesses and initiated some corrective actions, such as more stringent physical inventory procedures. Also in response to our audit, the INS categorized property management as a material weakness in the U.S. Department of Justice Management Controls Report for Fiscal Year 2000. However, it is critical that further improvement be made and controls strengthened to protect INS assets and maintain adequate records.

The details of our results are contained in the Findings and Recommendations section of the report. Our audit objectives, scope, and methodology are contained in Appendix I.


1 To be conservative, we stated our statistical projections at the lower bound. However, it should be noted that the upper bound could be as high as 81,700 property items with a total cost of $107.6 million.

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