Tuesday, January 4, 2022

New Office of Inspector General Report on Manual Processing by USCIS

A new report issued by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security on December 28, 2021 finds that USCIS' delivery of benefits was slowed during the pandemic as a result of reliance on manual processing. Here is a summary of the OIG's findings:

USCIS’ technology systems and infrastructure enabled some electronic processing of benefits to continue from March 2020 through May 2021, despite offices being closed or operating at reduced capacity during the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

USCIS used its Electronic Immigration System to continue electronically processing 17 of the 102 types of benefits it delivers. USCIS also relied on various operational flexibilities, such as virtual interviews and biometrics reuse, to continue benefits delivery during this time. We attribute these successes to USCIS’ recent planning efforts to ensure continuity of operations, as well as its ongoing efforts to transition to an electronic processing environment.

USCIS’ primary operational challenge, however, was its continued reliance on paper files to process and deliver benefits. USCIS had limited capability to electronically process more than 80 types of benefits, which still required some manual workflows and paper files to complete cases. Recurring technology performance issues and equipment limitations further constrained USCIS employees’ productivity. We attribute these challenges to funding cuts and lost fee revenue that limited spending during this time.

These challenges further increased processing times and resulted in a backlog of 3.8 million cases as of May 2021. Although USCIS digitized key benefits in recent years, it must further eliminate manual workflows and paper file dependency to achieve its 5-year plan to improve benefit processing times.



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