ESIG eAdjudications Update
In a call last week with Raj Devireddy, eAdjudications Program Director from the Office of the CIO, USCIS, Ken Ray from Immigrant Pro and me, Raj was able to update us regarding the status and general development in the eAdjudications and customer service initiatives.
Initially, Raj was given the directive to work with ESIG, AILA and any other entity that could represent direct or interface users of their future online systems. He thought, and it seems very prudently, to organize the initial teleconference with us and others so that preliminary issues could be discussed, backgrounds could be explained and agenda’s and timetables could be set. Evidently, it was the CIS eAdjudications project manager (CSC) who felt that a face to face meeting was more appropriate to discuss development issues (although these were not the issues that Raj had in mind to discuss initially). So, the teleconference was cancelled and Raj passed on a message that a meeting is to be scheduled by CSC. To the time of this posting I have still not heard from the CSC contact that was suppose to schedule the meeting.
One of the things that Raj wanted to accomplish in the teleconference was to bring us up to date on the eAdjudications development. As I understand it there are 3 phases to the next CIS online project. The first of which is the implementation of an API (Application Programming Interface) by March/April, 2006 that would allow 3rd party applications to interface directly with CIS eFiling. The 1st phase would allow basic data entry into the CIS forms. The 2nd and 3rd phases relate to the further development of the interface and a CIS “Case Management” system that will assist CIS internally as a “back-end” system. This is not case management functionality for outside users.
We mentioned to Raj that the first phase could possibly be a redundant development task since there are great applications out there (in the commercial market) which have created a customer interface to capture the data that CIS needs to adjudicate applications and that what is really needed is simply to take the data out there in these systems and development a system to get that date to the CIS reviewing officers rather than the intermediary step of developing a system that takes information into one questionnaire in order to populate a second questionnaire (form).
It may even be the case that CSC does not have the incentive to work with the vendors. This could result in a similar situation as the eFiling initiative where Bearing Point ultimately did not integrate already existing applications and developed a very costly system that did not take into consideration lessons already learned by the industry and profession. The result was a system that did not respond to the needs of the users which is why it has not been widely used.
It was agreed that in order to be heard and to have a system that makes sense using the applications already in existence we would need to bring in external pressures from CIS leadership and then ultimately Congress.
Lastly, Raj clarified the issue of “screen scraping” after Ken was able to explain the process in greater detail. It appears that the main concern of CIS was one of “connectivity” and bandwidth and as long as the screen scraping wouldn’t affect the bandwidth and connectivity of the CIS then it was Raj’ further reviewed determination that screen scraping was not prohibited.
It looks like we will need to organize further and assert ourselves more if we are going to be allowed to have an impact on the development of these CIS systems. I encourage your comments and ideas as to what steps we can or should take to help move these initiatives along and gain more meaningful representation in the eAjudications program.