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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION AND CLAIMS

COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

MARCH 19, 2002

 

OVERSIGHT HEARING ON THE INSíS MARCH 2002 NOTIFICATION OF APPROVAL OF CHANGE OF STATUS FOR PILOT TRAINING FOR TERRORIST HIJACKERS MOHAMMED ATTA AND MARWAN AL-SHEHHI

 

WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF MR. THOMAS BLODGETT OF

AFFILILIATED COMPUTER SERVICES, INC.

 

††††††††††† Mr. Chairman and Members of this Subcommittee, my name is Thomas Blodgett.I am an officer of Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. ("ACS") and Managing Director of ACS' Business Process Solutions division.

 

Introduction

††††††††††† ACS is pleased to assist the Subcommittee in its review of the facts surrounding the March 2002 INS notifications mailed to Huffman Aviation.We want to note at the very beginning of our testimony that while ACS is confident we performed all services timely and correctly under our contract with the Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS"), we do regret that the original I-20 INS forms submitted by Huffman Aviation on behalf of the subject terrorists were not removed from the normal mailings of original I-20 forms in March 2002.We are concerned American citizens who have shared in the grief of the September 11 tragedy and we fully appreciate the sensitivity of this matter.We are committed to assisting our public officials in any way possible to improve our Government's information processing capabilities for the protection of all American citizens.

 

About ACS

††††††††††† ACS is headquartered in Dallas, Texas and provides business process outsourcing, information technology solutions and systems integration services to commercial and government clients.ACS has revenues of $3 billion, we employ over 35,000 people, operate from 35 countries and have over 500 office locations.We are a publicly traded company on the NYSE, traded under the symbol "ACS."

††††††††††† Our services to Federal, state and local governments support government programs for health and human services, public safety, information systems, municipal services, and defense-related work.ACS' federal clients include the Department of Education, the Department of Labor, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, the Department of Defense, all branches of the military, as well as the INS.Our state and local government services span nearly all 50 states.

 

ACS Services Provided to INS

††††††††††† ACS operates a back-office microfilm, data entry, and storage facility in London, Kentucky that performs high-volume transaction processing for the microfilming, data entry, and storage of multiple INS forms, including I-94 and I-20 forms.Specific to I-20 forms (applications for student status), we receive completed forms from INS service centers, schools and ports of entry.Our process is (1) the forms are scanned, microfilmed and certain data is keyed off of the forms; (2) the data is returned to INS in microfilm and electronic form; (3) the original form is stored by ACS for a period specified by our INS contract; and (4) after expiration of the contractual storage period, ACS mails the original form to the originating school.ACS has no involvement in the review, evaluation or determination of INS visa approvals.In 2001 we processed approximately 575,000 I-20 forms and 30 million I-94 forms.

ACS has provided these microfilming, data entry and storage services to INS directly and through predecessor companies acquired by ACS since 1994.Prior to winning a new prime contract with the INS for these services effective December 18, 2001, ACS provided these services as a subcontractor.The prior subcontract provided that ACS "shall store all original source documents for a period of 180 days."See Exhibit A attached.After expiration of this mandatory storage period, ACS was required to mail the original form to the originating school.

ACS is currently providing these processing services pursuant to a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA), dated October 22, 2001, between INS and ACS Government Services, Inc., a subsidiary of ACS.The BPA became effective on December 18, 2001, and covers the Non-Immigrant Information System (NIIS) and Student/School (STSC) System Support Services.Like the prior subcontract described above, the BPA requires ACS to store original forms, including the I-20 forms.The following requirement is set forth on page 6 of the BPA: "The Contractor shall also be required to safeguard the original paper forms for a specified period, then destroy them appropriately.While they are safeguarded, the Contractor may be required to locate specific forms on request, and to return them to the INS for forensic purposes."See Exhibit B attached.Page C-5 of Attachment C to the BPA changes the mandatory storage period from 180 days to 30 days for I-20 forms and requires ACS to "[r]eturn page 1 of the I-20 to the school thirty (30) days after processing."See Exhibit C attached.Therefore, for forms received on and after December 18, 2001 ACS is required to store the original forms for 30 days rather than 180 days.At the end of the mandatory storage period ACS mails page 1 of the form to the originating school and destroys the rest of the original document.

 

Facts Relevant to the March 2002 Mailing

In August 2000 Huffman Aviation filed I-20 applications with INS to change Atta's and Al-Shehhi's visas from tourist to student status.INS approved the requested changes in July and August 2001.On September 24, 2001 ACS received the completed I-20 forms for microfilm, data entry and storage for the mandatory 180-day period.ACS processed the I-20 forms and returned the microfilm and electronic data back to INS and stored the forms as required by contract.The BPA changing the 180-day storage period to a 30-day storage period went into effect December 18, 2001 for I-20 forms processed on and after that date.The I-20 forms then in 180-day storage continued in that status until February 27, 2002 when INS requested that ACS begin mailing all of the I-20 forms then held in 180-day storage status to the form originators.On March 5, 2002 ACS did an automated bulk mailing of approximately 4,000 I-20 forms.The Huffman Aviation forms for Atta and Al-Shehhi were part of the 180-day storage and were mailed to Huffman Aviation as part of the March 5, 2002 mailing.

ACS generally receives around one request per month from INS to pull documents.These requests usually are for I-94 forms.We received no requests from INS to pull any documents related to Atta or Al-Shehhi.As INS' processor, ACS is required to treat all documents as confidential to INS and is not authorized to review or pull documents unless requested by INS.

Again, Mr. Chairman, while I am certain that ACS performed as our contract required us to do, I want to emphasize again that we share all Americansí grief at the tragedy suffered by our Nation, and we fully appreciate the sensitivity of this issue.We continue to stand ready to assist our public officials in any way possible to improve the Governmentís information processing capabilities for the protection of all citizens.Thank you.


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