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  • Online Immigration Application Is Billions Over Budget

    An online tool to “create, manage and track” immigration applications has been delayed for nearly a decade and is estimated to cost $3.1 billion – more than six times the original projected bottom line.

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began developing the Electronic Immigration System, or ELIS, more than 10 years ago to digitize the immigration application process, according to a  Government Accountability Office blog post Tuesday.

    So far, the “program has cost a lot, but delivered little,” the post said. “USCIS manages millions of applications using a complex and inefficient system of electronic and paper records that has been cobbled together over the years.”

    The blog post said “for over a decade, USCIS has worked to transform this system into a single, online portal where people can create, manage, and track their applications.”

    Earlier this year, GAO said in a report that “having an efficient system to process immigration benefits and citizenship requests in a timely manner … is essential for ensuring the integrity of the immigration process,” a May GAO report said.

    USCIS awarded a $500 million contract in 2008 “after several years of planning and testing,” and planned to release ELIS by 2012, the post said. “But an overly complex system architecture contributed to cost overruns, schedule delays and performance concerns.”

    The launch date was rescheduled in 2011 for June 2014 for $2.1 billion – more than four times the original contract price.

    “However, in March 2012, USCIS changed its acquisition approach,” the post said. “Among other things, it moved from a single contractor to many, and shifted to open-source, publicly available software. As a result, the parts of the ELIS system that were already released have to be rebuilt.”

    USCIS awarded new contracts, but didn’t update cost estimates, the schedule or ELIS’s expected capabilities, “even though it was clear that its initial plan no longer worked,” the post said. GAO estimated that the changes caused more delays and added another $1 billion to the project’s cost.

    USCIS announced in May that ELIS wouldn’t be completed until March 2019 for $3.1 billion, but the Department of Homeland Security – USCIS’ parent agency – “disagreed that changes to the acquisition strategy delayed the program and added $1 billion to the overall cost,” the May report said.

    “We will continue to examine the transformation program and its implementation to help ensure that USCIS’s modernized immigration system is better than what came before,” the post said.

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    Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

    Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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