IG: DHS struggles with illegal-alien tracking systems

The Homeland Security Department has made little progress in recent years in improving its aging IT systems for tracking the detentions and removals of illegal aliens, according to a new report from DHS inspector general Richard L. Skinner.

The problems predate the creation of DHS in 2003, which assimilated several immigration agencies, including the pre-existing Detention and Removal Office, which is now a unit of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau.

The Detentions and Removal Office initiated an IT upgrading project five years ago to improve its data collection and analytical capabilities. The IT upgrading program, called the Enforce Removal Module, was intended to replace the office's 20-year-old IT systems with an automated data collection and analysis system capable of providing "more timely, accurate and complete analysis," the inspector general said.

But due to system performance and compatibility problems, the upgrading program contract lapsed in April 2004. A new contract took effect in December 2004. Since then, scant progress has been made, the inspector general said.

"To date, the Detention and Removal Office has invested more than $15 million into the Enforce Removal Module project with little to show for its effort," the inspector general said. "Further, [the office] could not predict when the EREM project will be fully implemented or at what additional cost."

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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