Immigration BenefitsINS Not Making Timely Deposits of Application Fees Gao ID: GGD-00-185 September 29, 2000
One of the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) primary functions is to provide services or benefits that facilitate entry, residence, employment, and naturalization of legal immigrants. To recover the costs that it incurs in providing benefits, INS is authorized to charge fees to recipients of INS services. Federal agencies, including INS, are generally required by Department of the Treasury regulations to deposit fees totaling $5,000 or more on the same day or the day after they are collected. This report discusses: (1) the extent to which INS made timely deposits of fees collected from aliens who applied for benefits; and (2) the potential costs to the government if INS deposits were not timely. Because INS data were incomplete, GAO was unable to fully determine the extent to which INS complied with Treasury regulations requiring deposit on the same or next day after collection. However, in fiscal year 1999, INS service centers generally did not make timely fee deposits. According to GAO's conservative estimate, the resulting interest cost to the government, or the cost of interest incurred on debt or other obligations, was about $640,000 in fiscal year 1999.
GAO noted that: (1) because the data maintained by INS was not complete, GAO was unable to fully determine the extent to which INS complied with Department of the Treasury regulations requiring that receipts totalling $5,000 or more be deposited on the same day if they were received prior to the deposit cutoff time, or the next day if they were received too late to meet the cutoff time; (2) INS maintained initial application acceptance processing data for its four service centers, which handled about 75 percent of the applications received; (3) however, INS did not maintain such data for its 33 district offices, which handled the remaining 25 percent of applications received; (4) in fiscal year 1999, INS service centers did not generally make timely fee deposits; (5) whereas Treasury requires that fees totalling $5,000 or more be deposited on the same day or the day after they are received, INS took, on average, at least 12 additional days beyond Treasury's time requirement; (6) GAO estimated that the resulting interest cost to the government, or the cost for interest incurred on debt or other obligations, was about $640,000 in fiscal year 1999; (7) GAO estimates are conservative because GAO did not have data on certain phases of the fee deposit process--such as the amount of time that applications remained unopened in service center mailrooms--that may have caused additional delays in the time taken to deposit fees; (8) any additional delays would have increased the amount of interest cost to the government; and (9) INS' contract of application processing services provided the contractor with more time to make fee deposits than is allowed by Treasury regulations.Recommendations
Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.Director: Team: Phone: