Index


INS Budget: Overhiring and Decline in Revenues Have Created Fiscal Stress
(Statement/Record, 03/24/1999, GAO/T-GGD/AIMD-99-129).

GAO concludes that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is
not experiencing an overall budget shortfall at this time. The hiring
policy that the agency followed in fiscal year 1998 in an attempt to
meet congressional and administration expectations resulted in INS
having to commit a greater share of its fiscal year 1999 budget to
salaries and benefits than in earlier years. Overall, however, INS now
has more discretionary funds than it had in fiscal year 1998. With
respect to the examinations fee account, INS overestimated the number of
applications it would receive and did not detect the consequent revenue
shortfall for months because of computer programming errors. When it
became apparent that the anticipated revenues would not be realized, INS
decided to seek reprogramming of money from other accounts to cover the
costs. The overhiring and reduced examinations fee revenue meant that
most INS programs had less discretionary funding in fiscal year 1999
than in fiscal year 1998. Although INS has not experienced an overall
budget shortfall, the combination of higher personnel costs, declining
examination fee revenues, and the resultant need to reduce discretionary
funding allocations to most programs has created fiscal stress for the
agency.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  T-GGD/AIMD-99-129
     TITLE:  INS Budget: Overhiring and Decline in Revenues Have
	     Created Fiscal Stress
      DATE:  03/24/1999
   SUBJECT:  Budget outlays
	     Future budget projections
	     Hiring policies
	     Budget deficit
	     Budget receipts
	     Reprogramming of appropriated funds
	     Personnel recruiting
	     Special fund appropriation accounts
IDENTIFIER:  Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund

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Microsoft Word - 16xq01!.PBF INS BUDGET Overhiring and Decline in
Revenues Have Created Fiscal Stress

Statement for the Record by Norman J. Rabkin, Director
Administration of Justice Issues General Government Division

United States General Accounting Office

GAO Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State,
the

Judiciary, and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations,
House of Representatives

Not to be Released Before 3: 00 p. m. EST Wednesday March 24, 1999

GAO/ T- GGD/ AIMD- 99- 129

Statement

Page 1 GAO/ T- GGD/ AIMD- 99- 129

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: I am pleased to
submit this statement for the record as you consider the fiscal
year 2000 budget request for the Immigration and Naturalization
Service (INS). In your letter requesting that we examine INS
budget issues, you noted a concern that INS has incurred budget
shortfalls for fiscal year 1999. We have sought to determine (1)
INS' overall fiscal condition in fiscal year 1999, and (2) how
factors such as overhiring and a decline in Examinations Fee
applications have affected INS' fiscal situation.

After discussions with officials in INS, the Department of Justice
(DOJ), and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and based on
our analysis of INS budget documents, we concluded that INS is not
experiencing an overall budget shortfall at this time. The hiring
policy that INS followed in fiscal year 1998 in an attempt to meet
congressional and administration expectations resulted in INS
having to commit a greater share of its fiscal year 1999 budget to
salaries and benefits than in prior years. Overall, however, INS
currently has more discretionary funds than it had in fiscal year
1998. With respect to the Examinations Fee account, INS
overestimated the number of applications it would receive and did
not detect the consequent revenue shortfall for months because of
computer programming errors. When it became apparent that the
anticipated revenues would not be realized, INS decided to seek
reprogramming of funds from other accounts to cover the costs. The
overhiring and reduced Examinations Fee revenues contributed to
most INS programs having less discretionary funding in fiscal year
1999 than in fiscal year 1998.

Although INS has not experienced an overall budget shortfall, the
combination of higher personnel costs, declining Examinations Fee
revenues, and the resultant need to reduce discretionary funding
allocations to most programs has created fiscal stress for the
agency.

As shown in figure 1, INS has benefited from significant increases
in its regular appropriations and appropriations from its fee
accounts. 1 Funding increases have continued in fiscal year 1999
with Congress providing over $3.9 billion. When funding from the
Working Capital Fund, carryover balances, and certain
reimbursements are added to this figure, INS' operating budget
totals approximately $4.0 billion for fiscal year 1999.

1 INS fees are appropriated from special fund receipt accounts to
provide reimbursement to INS' Salaries and Expenses account for
certain expenses. Fees can only be used for purposes as
authorized. Background

Statement Page 2 GAO/ T- GGD/ AIMD- 99- 129

Note: Includes reimbursements in the Salaries and Expenses
account. Does not include appropriations to the Immigration
Emergency Fund.

Source: OMB, Budgets of the United States Government, fiscal years
1996 - 2000

INS divides its operating budget into four categories of spending:
(1) mandatory expenses, e. g., rent; (2) personal salaries 2 and
benefits; (3) setasides, such as employee relocations, vehicle
acquisitions, and background investigations; and (4) discretionary
funding. For purposes of this review, the first three categories
can be grouped together as expenses that either have first claim
on a budget because they must be paid or are considered integral
to an agency's operations. Although many of these expenses
directly benefit field operations, most are centrally- funded at
headquarters. The last category discretionary funding funds
personnel costs for otherthan- permanent employees; discretionary
overtime; travel; cash awards; some types of procurements; and
day- to- day operating expenses, such as equipment maintenance and
lease of copiers. Table 1 shows data provided by INS on its end-
of- year allocation for fiscal year 1998 compared with its current
allocation for fiscal year 1999, by spending categories.

2 INS refers to salaries and benefits for its personnel as
personal salaries and benefits.

Figure 1: INS Funding for New Budget Authority, Fiscal Years 1994-
1999 (est.)

Statement Page 3 GAO/ T- GGD/ AIMD- 99- 129

Fiscal year Mandatory

expenses Personal

salaries and benefits Set- asides Discretionary

funding Total 1998 $252.1 $1,800.7 $299.4 $1,515.7 $3,867.9 1999
304.6 1,816.9 363.0 1,545.6 4,030.2 Source: INS, Office of Budget.

To determine (1) INS' overall fiscal condition, and (2) how
factors such as overhiring and a decline in Examinations Fee
applications have affected INS' fiscal situation, we interviewed
officials in INS' Offices of Budget, Personnel, Facilities, and
Field Operations. To get additional perspectives on INS' funding
status, we interviewed officials in DOJ's Justice Management
Division and OMB's Justice and General Services Administration
Branch. We reviewed INS budget documents prepared for fiscal year
1999 that were submitted to the Justice Department, OMB, and
Congress, as well as those prepared for internal use, to document
and analyze changes in funding. In addition, INS provided
memorandums and briefing documents relevant to our work and
additional supporting material prepared specifically for our
review. Our work was performed in Washington, D. C., during
February and March 1999, in accordance with generally accepted
government auditing standards.

Since 1996, INS has been making a concentrated effort to fill both
its existing vacancies and many new positions authorized by
Congress each year. However, throughout this period, attrition of
staff already on- board and reported difficulties in hiring new
staff have impeded INS from filling many positions. In an attempt
to remedy this situation, INS allowed field offices to hire 4
percent more than their number of funded positions during fiscal
year 1998. As discussed below, this policy, combined with other
fiscal pressures, resulted in most INS programs having less
discretionary funding in fiscal year 1999 than in fiscal year
1998.

Between the end of fiscal years 1995 and 1998, INS' on- board
staff increased from 18,823 to 27,941. INS anticipates adding
another 3,000 staff by the end of fiscal year 1999. However,
according to INS officials, throughout this period, the number of
staff on board generally lagged behind authorized levels. INS
officials attribute the lag to (1) significant new authority to
hire provided by Congress each year, (2) high rates of attrition
of on- board staff throughout the year, and (3) difficulty in
recruiting and retaining a group of qualified candidates from
outside of INS to fill vacancies as they arise.

Table 1: INS Allocations for Fiscal Years 1998 and 1999 (in
Millions of Dollars)

Scope and Methodology

Overhiring Policy Created Fiscal Stress

Statement Page 4 GAO/ T- GGD/ AIMD- 99- 129

Since 1996, INS has taken several steps to overcome these
difficulties. First, to ensure that its workforce would expand
rather than shift internally, INS directed field staff to hire for
only entry level positions. Second, INS allowed field managers to
select a larger pool of candidates to consider for employment than
they were authorized to hire 3 because it was anticipated that a
number of candidates would (1) not make it through the pre-
appointment process, or (2) no longer be available by the time INS
could make an offer of employment. Third, with approval, field
managers were permitted to hire 2 percent more than their number
of funded positions. The over- hiring was supposed to occur in
field offices where attrition or new hiring authority was
anticipated. The over- hired positions were supposed to be used to
fill vacancies as soon as they occurred so that field office
hiring would not exceed funded levels for the year. At the start
of fiscal year 1998, regional directors requested, and the
Commissioner approved, an increase in the over- hire authority to
4 percent. During fiscal year 1998, the number of INS staff on
board increased from 86 to nearly 97 percent of INS' funded level.

The large amount of fiscal year 1998 hiring created fiscal stress
for the agency by increasing certain payroll costs beyond budgeted
levels. According to INS officials, beginning in fiscal year 1998,
there was a rapid acceleration in the on- board rate of Border
Patrol agents, Investigators, and Detention and Deportation
officers. These positions were over- hired for substantial periods
during fiscal year 1998. This created a funding problem because
INS allocated personal services and benefits (PS& B) for funded
positions only-- not over- hired ones. As of May of 1998, INS
projected that the PS& B portion of one of its accounts Salaries
and Expenses would have a deficit of $16.1 million by the end of
the fiscal year. 4 The Border Patrol program accounted for most of
the projected deficit. The nine other accounts that also provide
funding for PS& B were projected to have surpluses or have
negligible deficits.

INS officials attributed the deficit in part to previous and
projected overhiring by field offices. INS officials told us that
some field offices would over- hire, but then not use the over-
hired position to fill their vacancies. In some cases, they said
this occurred because there was a mismatch between the positions
that had been over- hired and the vacancies that

3 The overselection involved INS conducting such pre- hire
activities as background checks and medical examinations for
several candidates who were potentially eligible for a single
position. By doing this, INS hoped that when a position became
available, a candidate could be brought on board immediately.

4 INS' budget is funded in 17 separate accounts. Ten of these
accounts provide funding for a variety of expenses including PS&
B, which pays for the salaries and benefits of full- time
permanent staff.

Statement Page 5 GAO/ T- GGD/ AIMD- 99- 129

occurred. They said another reason for the deficit was a miscoding
of $2.5 million in obligations for newly hired personnel to the
Salaries and Expenses account instead of the Violent Crime
Reduction Trust Fund (VCRTF) account.

In response to the anticipated deficit, in May 1998, the Office of
Budget issued guidance to executive staff. The guidance said the
over- hire policy was not intended to permit field offices to
remain up to 4 percent over the authorized number of positions for
extended periods of time. The guidance listed four actions to be
taken: (1) correct miscoding of new hires from the Salaries and
Expenses account to the VCRTF account; (2) ensure all new hires
are coded to the correct account; (3) manage subsequent hiring to
resolve over- hiring of officer positions; and (4) redirect, by
the Office of Budget, $6.5 million to cover the remainder of the
anticipated year- end PS& B deficit. The guidance warned that if
hiring continued to exceed authorized levels, discretionary funds
would have to be used to cover the projected deficit in PS& B
funds.

However, as of August 1998, the projected deficit of PS& B funds
in the Salaries and Expenses account had increased to $20 million.
To respond to this situation, according to budget officials, field
staff were directed to reduce staff on board to funded levels. At
the end of fiscal year 1998, however, certain enforcement
positions were still over- hired. According to an INS budget
official, the over- hired positions accounted for about $12
million in PS& B deficits. Approximately 50 percent of that amount
was covered by unobligated discretionary funds that were
reallocated by INS regions to PS& B.

In the past, according to INS and Justice Department officials,
PS& B funding that was not used to pay personnel costs was
reallocated to help fund other spending. To successfully implement
the policy of hiring up to funded levels during fiscal year 1998,
INS had to commit a larger share of its budget to pay for
personnel costs. 5 This meant that a smaller share of funds would
be available to address other needs. For example, to pay an $80
million settlement with the Investigation Union, INS has been
paying in annual $10 million installments from its Investigations
lapsed PS& B funds. As a result of the increased hiring in fiscal
year 1998, the Investigations

5 Regardless of the number of vacancies that may exist at the
beginning of the fiscal year, the Office of Budget allocates
enough PS& B funds to pay for all on- board full- time permanent
positions plus planned new hires, and attrition back- fills. Since
fiscal year 1997, INS has been using a model to project PS& B
funding needs by pay period through the end of the fiscal year.
The model uses data on hiring, attrition, and actual spending. INS
uses the output from the model in quarterly financial reviews to
help assess its financial position.

Statement Page 6 GAO/ T- GGD/ AIMD- 99- 129

program reportedly did not have sufficient lapsed dollars to fund
the $10 million installment. As a result, the Office of Budget set
aside $10 million of Investigations funding at the beginning of
fiscal year 1999 to pay the current year installment. This meant
that the Investigations program received substantially fewer
dollars for discretionary spending.

To illustrate the impact of hiring up to funded levels on INS'
budget, if INS remained at the 86 percent on- board level that
existed at the beginning of fiscal year 1998, then about $250
million in PS& B funds would have been available to spend on other
needs. But, INS finished fiscal year 1998 with nearly 97 percent
of its funded positions filled. If INS remained at the 97 percent
on- board level throughout fiscal year 1999, it would have $60
million in PS& B funds after meeting payroll costs. This would be
$190 million less than PS& B funds available with an 86 percent
on- board level.

After meeting payroll expenses, mandatory costs, and other
expenses set aside for centrally- funded items that support
service- wide needs, INS currently had about $71.8 million more in
discretionary funds, overall, than it had in fiscal year 1998.
Within INS, the Office of Field Operations, which distributes
funding to field offices, had more discretionary funds than it had
in fiscal year 1998, while all other headquarters offices received
less discretionary funds.

Although, overall, the Office of Field Operations received more
discretionary funds than in fiscal year 1998, some programs within
the Office of Field Operations received less. Table 2 provides a
breakdown of how the 11 programs under the Office of Field
Operations fared. Initially, in December 1998, when the Office of
Budget communicated to the Office of Field Operations how much it
would have available in discretionary funds, the total amount
appeared to be $199 million less than was allocated in fiscal year
1998. However, according to INS officials, this amount did not yet
include $270.7 million that was available from Examinations Fee
funds, Salaries and Expenses funds for Adjudications and
Naturalization program initiatives, and Working Capital funds. The
amounts available from these funds had not yet been allocated
because detailed spending plans needed to be developed first.
Including the $270.7 million, the Office of Field Operations would
have had $71.7 million more in discretionary funds, overall. In
January 1999, the $270.7 million was allocated and, following
feedback from the field about the inadequacy of the funds
initially communicated, headquarters executive staff redirected
$47.7 million to field operations for discretionary funds. These
actions resulted in a total allocation that was $120.6 million
more than in fiscal year 1998.

Statement Page 7 GAO/ T- GGD/ AIMD- 99- 129

Five of the 11 programs under the Office of Field Operations had
less discretionary funds than in fiscal year 1998.

Program End of fiscal

year 1998 allocation

Partial fiscal year 1999 allocation a 12/ 23/ 98

Increase/ (decrease) from fiscal year 1998

Fiscal year 1999 allocation 1/ 28/ 99

Increase/ (decrease) from fiscal year 1998

Percent change from fiscal year 1998 Inspections $109.5 $99.9 ($
9.6) $103.3 ($ 6.2) -5.7 Border Patrol 86.5 57.4 (29.1) 89.5 3. 1
3.5 Investigations 41.3 9. 3 (32.0) 21.9 (19.4) -47.0 Detention
and Deportation 463.8 420.3 (43.5) 426.0 (37.8) -8.1 Intelligence
0. 5 1.4 0. 9 1.9 1. 4 309.6 Adjudications and Naturalization 38.7
6. 7 (32.0) 176.2 137.4 355.0 International Affairs 46.6 7. 0
(39.6) 35.0 (11.6) -24.9 Training 0.5 0. 4 (0.1) 0. 5 0.0 0. 3
Data and Communication 1.9 2. 4 0.5 32.9 31.0 1, 657.0 Information
and Resource Management 12.3 0. 2 (12.1) 38.4 26.1 211.5
Management and Administration 5.6 3. 2 (2.4) 3. 4 (2.2) -39.7
Total 807.1 608.1 (199.0) 929.0 121.9 15.1

Note: Rounding may affect the calculation of percentages and
totals. a Excludes $270. 7 million that was available, but had not
yet been calculated and communicated to the

field. This amount consisted of $171. 7 million in Examinations
Fee funds, $92.0 million in S& E funds for Adjudications and
Naturalization program initiatives, and $7.0 million in Working
Capital funds.

Source: Immigration and Naturalization Service, Office of Budget
and Office of Field Operations.

According to a DOJ official, these problems were not communicated
to Congress until January 22, 1999. According to INS Office of
Budget officials, the potentially difficult fiscal situation for
fiscal year 1999 was conveyed internally at meetings with (1)
resource management staff in July 1998, (2) executive staff and
regional directors in August 1998 during the third quarterly
financial review, and (3) INS managers in October 1998 at the
annual Commissioner's conference. However, initial budget
allocations were not made until December 11, 1998, nearly the end
of the first quarter of fiscal year 1999. According to budget
officials, the allocations were made in December because of the
complicated nature of the appropriation. 6 Office of Field
Operations officials said they were surprised by the magnitude of
the reductions in discretionary funds.

6 Office of Budget officials said this year's budget execution
process was complicated by (1) the threeweek delay in final
appropriations, (2) numerous base transfers between appropriated
and fee accounts, (3) the division of the S& E account into
separate enforcement and benefits accounts, which also affected
all fee accounts, reimbursable agreements, and transfers that
reimburse the split S& E

Table 2: Discretionary Funding Allocations to Field Operations
(Dollars in Millions)

Statement Page 8 GAO/ T- GGD/ AIMD- 99- 129

INS continues to pursue the goal of hiring to its authorized
level. However, as of January 6, 1999, the Executive Associate
Commissioner for Field Operations cancelled the over- hire
authority for all programs except, in certain circumstances, those
funded by the Examinations Fee Account.

In formulating its fiscal year 1999 budget, INS projected in
November 1997 that it would receive 6.9 million Adjudications and
Naturalization applications, 7 and that these would produce $862
million in revenues for its Examinations Fee account. In July
1998, INS was projecting 5.6 million applications and $560 million
in revenues for this account. INS overestimated the number of
applications in particular, the number of naturalization
applications-- that would be submitted to INS, and because of
computer problems, it was not able to detect the downturn in
applications in a timely fashion. In August 1998, DOJ submitted a
reprogramming request for $171 million, of which $88 million was
to help cover the decline in Examinations Fee revenues.

INS uses statistical modeling methods to estimate anticipated
applications and associated revenues. Based on receipts collected
since October 1991, the statistical analyses forecast receipts for
the coming year. For fiscal year 1999, the original forecasts were
made in November 1997. Revisions were made in March, June, and
July 1998. INS also has a working group, the Examinations Fee
Working Group, that meets at least quarterly to review the
statistical forecasts and decide whether to make adjustments to
the statistical estimates. The working group is composed of
representatives from the Offices of Budget, Policy and Planning
(Statistics Branch), Field Operations (Immigration Services
Division) and Programs (Adjudications and Naturalization Branch).
The group's main responsibility is to formulate monthly and annual
receipt projections for the Examinations Fee account. The
Statistics Branch develops the statistical model for each of the
applications based on workload and/ or receipts. The working group
uses this information to develop its projections for the
Examinations Fee account. In addition, INS consults with community
based organizations (CBOs) to obtain their input

accounts, and (4) the fiscal year 1999 reprogramming for
naturalization initiatives that was submitted as a separate
request in August.

7 The function of the Adjudications and Naturalization program is
to process, adjudicate, and grant or deny applications for
benefits provided under the immigration laws. Adjudication
activities include, among other things, processing applications
for permanent resident status, petitions for relatives, and
workers' applications. Naturalization activities include, among
other things, the examination of aliens to determine their
qualifications for naturalization and issuance of citizenship
documents. Declines in

Examinations Fee Revenues and Delays in Detecting the Declines
Added to INS' Fiscal Stress

INS Erroneously Expected Examinations Fee Revenues to Continue
Increasing in Fiscal Year 1999

Statement Page 9 GAO/ T- GGD/ AIMD- 99- 129

concerning the activities of immigrant groups. None of these
sources anticipated the decline in applications and revenues that
occurred in fiscal year 1998.

A specific type of naturalization application, referred to as N-
400 by INS, made up the single largest component, both in terms of
the number of applications (estimated to be 21 percent in fiscal
year 1999) and revenues generated (estimated to be 39 percent in
fiscal year 1999), of the Examinations Fee account. INS projected
in November 1997 that in fiscal year 1999, it would receive nearly
1.5 million N- 400 applications, and that these would produce
approximately $334 million in Examinations Fee revenue. In June
1998, INS lowered its fiscal year 1999 projections to 700,000
applications and $127 million in revenue.

INS officials have developed some hypotheses, including the
following, to explain the unanticipated drop in applications:

 Based on contacts with several community based organizations
(CBOs), INS believed that CBOs were stockpiling naturalization
applications in an effort to help eligible aliens meet a January
1998 deadline for filing certain types of adjustment of status
applications. 8 INS officials expected that naturalization
applications would surge after the deadline. However, it turned
out that CBOs were not stockpiling naturalization applications,
and the expected surge did not occur.

 Legislative changes restored some benefits for aliens, reportedly
causing a reduction in the demand for naturalization.

 Naturalization applications have peaked from among the 2. 7
million aliens who were granted amnesty by the Immigration Reform
and Control Act of 1986. However, evidence of this did not become
clear until well into fiscal year 1998.

 INS had a large backlog of N- 400 applications, perhaps creating
a disincentive for applicants to apply for naturalization.

8 In 1994, in P. L. 103- 317, Congress enacted section 245( i) of
the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allowed illegal aliens
in the United States to adjust status once they, because of family
relationships or job skills, became eligible for permanent
residency, provided they paid a penalty fee. This section of the
act was to sunset on September 30, 1997. There was debate on
extending the provision, and the result was that the section was
terminated in the fiscal year 1998 Commerce, Justice, State and
the Judiciary Appropriations Act, P. L. 105- 119. However, it
included a grandfather clause that gave illegal aliens until
January 14, 1998, to file the application for adjustment of
status.

Statement Page 10 GAO/ T- GGD/ AIMD- 99- 129

INS did not have timely information to determine that the number
of N- 400 applications had begun to decline. The key reason for
this was that computer programming errors were not detected and
resolved for an 8- month period in fiscal year 1998. During this
period, INS did not know how many N- 400 applications were
received.

In December 1997, INS tried to change its naturalization case
processing and tracking system, the Redesigned Naturalization
Application Casework System (RNACS), to show the date that
naturalization applications were received at INS, not the date
that they began to be processed by INS adjudicators. However, when
INS began to use RNACS with the applications receipt date
incorporated into it, the system only recognized those
applications that were received and processed in the same month.
If the application was received in one month and processed in
another month, the end- of- month summary report produced by INS'
Office of Information Resources Management did not capture the
information on date of receipt.

INS headquarters officials were reportedly skeptical of the low
naturalization numbers derived from RNACS. However, it took
several months for INS officials to determine that there was a
problem with RNACS because (1) it generally takes 5 to 6 weeks for
INS field offices to generate statistical information for
headquarters which, in turn, is compiled and reported by
headquarters' Office of Statistics, and (2) INS headquarters
officials were not certain whether the unexpectedly low numbers of
naturalization applications represented real behavior or a
reporting error. It then took several months to correct the
computer problem and generate new reports. As a result, between
October 1997 and May 1998, INS' Examinations Fee Working Group did
not have reliable data on which to base revised estimates of N-
400 applications for fiscal years 1998 and 1999.

We also examined whether and why INS' rental payment to the
General Services Administration (GSA) for fiscal year 1999 may
exceed INS' amount of appropriation identified for rent. We found
that INS' rental payment is expected to exceed the amount
appropriated by $13.2 million. For several reasons, Justice
officials said, it is difficult to accurately project rent costs,
and the shortfall in INS' funds for rent is not inconsistent with
what it has incurred in prior years.

As of March 1999, the anticipated GSA rental payment for INS for
the current fiscal year is $160.1 million. This is $9.9 million
above what was Computer Problems

Prevented INS From Detecting Downturn in Naturalization
Applications

GSA Rental Payment Was Higher Than Expected

Statement Page 11 GAO/ T- GGD/ AIMD- 99- 129

requested in the President's Budget for rent and $13.2 million
higher than the $146.9 million appropriated by Congress.

Arriving at an accurate projection of rental payments is difficult
for INS and other Justice components, according to Justice
officials. INS' GSA rental payment exceeded its appropriation by
$15 million in fiscal year 1998, $9 million in fiscal year 1997,
and $5 million in fiscal year 1996. According to INS and and
Justice officials, year- to- year fluctuations in the accuracy of
rent estimates could be caused by such factors as (1) the actual
GSA rental payment for fiscal year 1999 being higher than that
anticipated by INS at the time that it formulates its budget; (2)
changes in INS programs after the end of the budget cycle (e. g.,
information on new projects requiring space become available after
the budget cycle has ended); and (3) the difficulty of projecting
requirements in an environment of high growth, such as that
experienced by INS in recent years.

Page 12 GAO/ T- GGD/ AIMD- 99- 129

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