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AILA Doc. No. 98102153 | Dated October 21, 1998
Naturalization.--Naturalization and other services provided by the INS are meant to be covered by application fees deposited into the Examinations Fee account. However, in fiscal year 1998, $20,000,000 in direct appropriations and $196,000,000 in Examinations Fee account, were provided for backlog reduction and to improve the integrity of the naturalization process, beyond funds provided in the Examinations Fee account.
On August 6, 1998, the Department of Justice submitted a reprogramming request for INS that requested funds for a naturalization initiative from other resources beyond the revenues generated in the Examinations Fee account. The reason for this reprogramming was that Examinations Fee revenues have fallen significantly below the level INS estimated for fiscal years 1998 and 1999. These additional funds requested are intended to restore funding for ongoing naturalization activities, to provide a series of enhancements to address the large backlog of applications and to continue phasing in the revised application process recommended by PricewaterhouseCoopers. In that proposal, the Department recommended that the funds come from unobligated balances from within the INS Salaries and Expenses account, carryover from fiscal year 1998 Examinations Fee account, a transfer of funds from the Department's Working Capital Fund, and funds from the INS Breached Bond/Detention fund. The total requested by the Department was $171,000,000; $88,000,000 to restore base program activities that were reduced to cover the decline in fee revenues, of which $35,000,000 is for the restoration of base in the Examinations Fee account and $53,000,000 is for restoration of the Salaries and Expenses base; and the remaining $83,000,000 for a naturalization enhancement in the Salaries and Expenses account.
The conference agreement provides $171,000,000 for this initiative, $35,000,000 for base restoration in the Examinations Fee account, $53,000,000 for base restoration in Salaries and Expenses, and $83,000,000 in enhancements in funds which are not required to maintain other ongoing INS activities, funded in part directly through appropriation of funds, rather than through use of the Breached Bond Detention account, and $30,000,000 by transfer from the Working Capital Fund, which have been used instead to offset base funding requirements. The conference agreement recommends $83,000,000 for the following enhancements: (1) $27,450,000, of which $11,659,000 is for 200 term employees for the formation of Backlog Reduction Action Teams (BRAT) to work exclusively at INS locations where the average naturalization application processing time is in excess of 15 months and to reduce the backlog until the average case processing time at that location is under 12 months, $3,750,000 for clerical support, $3,425,000 for overtime, $2,401,000 for administering oaths, $3,200,000 for data entry, $2,222,000 for reprinting expired fingerprints, and $790,000 for computer support costs; (2) $4,325,000 for one-time need to reduce backlogs of cases at the service centers, including $145,000 for Information Resource Management needs; (3) $6,000,000 for field office ADP support; (4) $6,500,000 to improve records procedures and facilities; (5) $1,000,000 to conduct a pilot to improve fingerprint identification throughout the process; (6) $12,515,000 for implementation of key recommendations of PricewaterhouseCoopers to redesign the naturalization process, which includes $2,700,000 for designing and producing a user friendly guide to the naturalization process, $3,000,000 for continuation of the PricewaterhouseCoopers contract, $1,250,000 for consolidating medical waivers at the INS Service Centers, and $5,565,000 for the Complete File Review initiative which is designed to ensure that applicant files are complete at the time of adjudication; and (7) $25,190,000 for beginning one telephone verification center, a record centralization initiative in Missouri, and the indexing and conversion to CD or electronic transfer of INS microfilm images, provided that the INS should consult with the Committees on its proposed spending allocation of these funds prior to the obligation process.
Cite as AILA Doc. No. 98102153.