GAO: Feds should plan before awarding automation contracts

Published 9 May 2006

The federal government wants to digitalize more than 50 million paper records — but the GAO says that such a massive project should be better planned and thought out

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should outline a plan for automating 55 million paper-based immigration files for its Integrated Digitization Document Management Program, a new government report says. The federal government forecasts spending $190 million during eight years to scan, store, and share the files. The USCIS has already awarded to or planned to award $20 million in contracts even though it has yet to determine which files will be scanned, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last week.

The report states that the government has not planned effectively and needs to determine the scope, content, and approach for moving from paper storage in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, to electronic record-keeping. It also says that a recent decision to reevaluate the automation plans as part of an overall transformation shows the government appreciates the role technology plays in agency-wide business and organizational change. DHS has agreed to work with the GAO on planning long-term improvements, which will include management of immigration documents.