THE INSPECTOR GENERAL
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
ENUMERATION AT ENTRY
We improve SSA programs and operations and protect them against fraud, waste, and abuse by conducting independent and objective audits, evaluations, and investigations. We provide timely, useful, and reliable information and advice to Administration officials, the Congress, and the public.
The Inspector General Act created independent audit and investigative units, called the Office of Inspector General (OIG). The mission of the OIG, as spelled out in the Act, is to:
Conduct and supervise independent and objective audits and investigations
relating to agency programs and operations.
Promote economy, effectiveness, and efficiency within the agency.
Prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse in agency programs and operations.
Review and make recommendations regarding existing and proposed legislation and regulations relating to agency programs and operations.
Keep the agency head and the Congress fully and currently informed of problems in agency programs and operations.
To ensure objectivity, the IG Act empowers the IG with:
Independence to determine what reviews to perform.
Access to all information necessary for the reviews.
Authority to publish findings and recommendations based on the reviews.
By conducting independent and objective audits, investigations, and evaluations,
we are agents of positive change striving for continuous improvement in the
Social Security Administration's programs, operations, and management and in
our own office.
Date: March 15, 2005
To: The Commissioner
From: Inspector General
Subject: Assessment of the Enumeration at Entry Process (A-08-04-14093)
The objective of our review was to assess the effectiveness of the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Enumeration at Entry (EAE) process.
SSA entered into agreements with the Departments of State (State) and Immigration and Naturalization Service, in 1996 and 2000, respectively, to assist SSA in assigning Social Security numbers (SSN) to certain classes of immigrants. SSA's goal in implementing the EAE process was to reduce the possible acceptance of counterfeit immigration documents by SSA personnel and eliminate duplicate contacts immigrants must make with Federal agencies. In October 2002, State and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began assisting SSA by collecting data needed for SSN assignment as part of the immigration process.
Currently, SSA only allows immigrants who are lawfully admitted as permanent
residents (LAPR) and age 18 or older to voluntarily apply for an SSN through
EAE. By choosing to participate in EAE, LAPRs do not complete SSA's Form SS
for a Social Security Card. Instead, they apply for an original or replacement SSN card on State Form DS 230, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration. Once DHS admits an LAPR into the United States, it electronically transmits to SSA certain data elements needed for SSN assignment. Using these data, SSA's Modernized Enumeration System (MES) processes the record, assigns an SSN to the LAPR, and mails the SSN card to the address provided to State or DHS. Appendix B provides flowcharts of the EAE process.
As of September 30, 2004, SSA had issued EAE participants over 101,000 SSN cards. According to SSA, in Fiscal Year (FY) 2004, it cost about $24 and $10 to process an SSN application at an SSA field office (FO) and through EAE, respectively.
To accomplish our objective, we reviewed SSA policies and procedures for assigning SSNs to LAPRs. In addition, we visited six FOs to observe staff processing immigrants' SSN applications. We also reviewed 50 EAE records that MES could not process (pending records) and discussed possible causes with FO management. To learn more about State and DHS' role in the EAE process, we visited two foreign service posts and five U.S. ports of entry. We also identified a population of 10,752 EAE records for which SSA assigned original SSNs from December 2003 through February 2004. From our population, we randomly selected a sample of 250 records to determine whether SSA assigned multiple SSNs to the same individual. We also reviewed EAE records for accuracy and completeness. Appendix C includes a detailed description of our scope, methodology and sample appraisal.
RESULTS OF REVIEW
We commend SSA for its EAE initiative and believe it has the potential to strengthen SSN integrity and assist the Agency in delivering a higher quality of service to immigrants. However, we identified weaknesses in existing controls and operations we believe SSA needs to address to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the EAE process. We project SSA assigned about 1,161 multiple SSNs to immigrants who received an SSN through EAE from December 2003 through February 2004. This figure represents about 11 percent of the SSNs the Agency assigned to EAE applicants during this period. In addition, we determined that MES could not process 27,383 (26 percent) EAE applications during FY 2004 because of data incompatibility issues among SSA, State and DHS. Furthermore, EAE records did not always include immigrants' complete names or SSNs. Although the EAE process shows significant promise, we believe SSA must resolve these weaknesses before the Agency expands EAE to other classes of noncitizens.
SSA ASSIGNED MULTIPLE SSNs TO IMMIGRANTS
We project SSA assigned about 1,161 multiple SSNs to immigrants who received an SSN through EAE during our 3-month audit period (see Appendix C, Table 1). This amount represents about 11 percent of the 10,752 original SSNs the Agency assigned to EAE applicants during this time. We believe SSA erroneously assigned these immigrants more than one SSN because
SSA system edits did not identify previously assigned SSNs or multiple SSN applications, and
FO personnel improperly resolved enumeration feedback messages (EM).
The SSN has become one of the most important keys to social, legal and financial assimilation in the United States. As such, we believe SSA has a responsibility to ensure effective controls are in place to prevent improper SSN assignment. We believe an 11 percent error rate is undesirable, and SSA must make immediate changes in its EAE process. If SSA does not take a proactive role in addressing weaknesses in its controls and operations, and all variables remain constant, we estimate SSA will assign multiple SSNs to about 23,220 immigrants over the next 5 years. This is particularly important given SSA's interest in expanding EAE to other classes of noncitizens. We discuss in greater detail below factors we believe contributed to multiple SSN assignment.
System Edits Did Not Identify Duplicate Applications Processed on the Same Date or Previously Assigned SSNs
We estimate SSA assigned about 903 (about 78 percent) of the projected 1,161
multiple SSNs to immigrants because system edits did not identify (1) duplicate
applications submitted on the same date or (2) previously assigned SSNs (see
Appendix C, Estimate 1). When SSA's MES processes each SSN application, the
system runs an "edit routine" to determine whether any duplicate applications
were submitted on the same date. In doing so, MES compares certain positions
of the applicants' first and last names and dates of birth with other applications
to be processed that day. However, we identified instances in which duplicate
applications were entered into MES on the same date, but the matched records
had variations in the applicant's name or date of birth. In one case, the EAE
record had a double surname, while the FO created record
showed only one surname. We believe SSA needs to enhance its duplicate record detection routine to provide greater assurance of identifying duplicate requests submitted on the same day.
Once a record passes the duplicate record detection routine, MES searches its SSN master file for SSNs the Agency may have previously assigned the applicant. During the search, MES compares numerous data fields on the incoming SSN application with the master file. However, we identified instances in which edits failed to identify SSNs previously assigned to applicants because there was a variance in the applicant's first or last name or date of birth. In one case, the EAE record had a single first name, while the FO-created record showed a compound first name. We believe SSA needs to enhance its search routine to ensure previously assigned SSNs are identified.
FO Personnel Improperly Resolved Enumeration Feedback Messages
When the previously assigned SSN detection routine identifies a record on the SSN master file containing applicant information similar to that shown on an incoming EAE application, MES generates an EM and transmits it to the servicing FO for investigation and resolution. SSA instructions require that FO personnel compare master file information (name, date and place of birth, gender, alien status, parents' names) with the corresponding data on the incoming EAE record to determine whether a match exists. If FO personnel determine there is a previously assigned SSN, they should record the master file SSN on the incoming EAE application, which will cause MES to issue a replacement card. However, if FO personnel fail to do so, MES will assign an original SSN.
We estimate SSA assigned about 258 (about 22 percent) of the projected 1,161 multiple SSNs to immigrants because FO personnel improperly resolved EMs (see Appendix C, Estimate 2). In almost all instances, immigrants' first and last names and dates of birth on the matched records were identical. While there were some variations in parents' names, applicants' genders or city of birth, there was enough information on the master file and the incoming EAE application to clearly indicate the records belonged to the same individual. SSA representatives reviewed these cases and agreed that each set of records belonged to one individual. We believe FO personnel need to exercise greater care when resolving EMs.
IMMIGRANTS APPLIED FOR SSNs THROUGH ENUMERATION AT ENTRY AND AT FOs
One of EAE's key features is that it allows immigrants to apply for an SSN
as part of the immigration process rather than requiring that they visit an
SSA FO. However, we are concerned that a number of immigrants apply for SSNs
through EAE and at FOs. In fact, many immigrants visit an FO within the first
week of entering the country. SSA personnel at five of the six FOs we visited
told us that most immigrants who apply for SSNs through EAE also apply at an
FO. Our findings appear to support their concerns.
We estimate that about 645 (about 56 percent) of the projected 1,161 immigrants with multiple SSNs visited an SSA FO within 1 week of entering the country (see Appendix C, Estimate 3). Furthermore, our analysis of 50 EAE records that MES could not process (pending records) showed that 30 (60 percent) immigrants obtained an SSN at an FO, most of whom did so within 1 week of entering the country.
Based on our discussions with SSA, State and DHS personnel, we believe the following factors may contribute to immigrants applying for SSNs through EAE and at FOs. Specifically, immigrants
may not fully understand SSA's SSN assignment process because the Agency's instructional handout (provided to the immigrant at a foreign service post) is not always in the individual's native language;
may forget they applied for an SSN at a foreign service post because they may have up to 6 months to travel to the United States after visa approval;
do not always receive accurate information from DHS regarding SSN attainment;
visit FOs because they believe they can obtain an SSN quicker; and
must visit an FO to obtain an SSN for their children who are under age 18, and while there, also apply for their own SSN again.
We believe EAE's efficiency and effectiveness is diminished when immigrants apply for SSNs through EAE and at FOs. This not only increases FO workload and administrative costs, it impacts SSN integrity because of the potential for multiple SSN assignment. We recognize that SSA depends on assistance and support from State and DHS in assigning SSNs to immigrants. Nevertheless, we believe SSA, as the agency ultimately responsible for SSN assignment, has a duty to ensure State and DHS correctly educate immigrants on the steps they must take to obtain an SSN.
DATA INCOMPATIBILITY ISSUES PREVENTED PROCESSING OF SOME EAE RECORDS
MES could not process 27,383 (26 percent) of the 103,383 EAE records SSA received in FY 2004 because of data incompatibility issues among the Agency, State and DHS. As such, immigrants had to visit an FO to obtain an SSN, which defeats the purpose of EAE. This increases FO workload and Agency administrative costs. Had MES processed these EAE applications, we estimate the Agency could have saved approximately $657,000 in FY 2004, assuming all immigrants later obtained an SSN through an FO. If data incompatibility issues prevent MES from processing EAE records, and all variables remain constant, we estimate SSA may incur about $3.3 million in additional costs over the next 5 years. Resolution of the data incompatibility issue is particularly important given SSA's interest in expanding EAE to other classes of noncitizens.
When EAE records have invalid information in one or more data fields, MES places them on a "pending file." Our analysis of 50 pending EAE records disclosed that 48 (96 percent) failed to process because characters in the applicant's address field were not compatible with MES data requirements. These invalid characters were primarily commas, periods, colons, semicolons, ampersands and improperly placed blank spaces. For example, MES could not process an EAE record that included a period after "Street" (St.) in the address field.
SSA personnel acknowledged that data incompatibility problems prevent processing of some EAE records. SSA personnel explained that they provided State and DHS with specific data requirements, but the other agencies' data systems continue to allow characters MES will not accept. Although SSA no longer holds regular discussions with State and DHS, SSA personnel told us they still communicate when problems occur.
We believe EAE's efficiency and effectiveness is reduced when one of every four EAE applicants cannot obtain an SSN unless they visit an FO. As such, we believe SSA needs to continue to work with State and DHS to resolve data incompatibility issues. Until SSA resolves these issues, the Agency should consider contacting EAE applicants whose SSN applications could not be processed. The Agency relies on EAE applicants to eventually visit or call an SSA FO to inquire about his/her application. If the immigrant visits an FO to apply for an SSN and system edits identify the pending record, MES will process the EAE transaction and remove it from the pending file. Given SSA's commitment to world-class service, we believe the Agency should attempt to contact SSN applicants to resolve EAE discrepancies.
EAE RECORDS DID NOT ALWAYS INCLUDE IMMIGRANTS' COMPLETE NAMES OR SSNs
Although SSA allows initials and abbreviated names on SSN cards, Agency policy instructs FO personnel to include individuals' full names in the application field ("Full Name at Birth" or "Other Names Used"). We are concerned that EAE records State and DHS transmit to SSA do not always include immigrants' complete names or previously assigned SSNs, which are important identifying information for SSA records. Our analysis of EAE records disclosed instances in which State did not transmit immigrants' prior names as shown on the visa application. State also transmitted some EAE records with abbreviated names or initials. For example, we identified numerous instances in which State used the first name "Ma" instead of "Maria." Because of the limited information on these records, Agency edits may not always identify that a prior SSN exists.
Additionally, we identified instances in which State did not include immigrants' previously assigned SSNs on EAE records it forwarded to SSA, even though the immigrants included the SSNs on their visa applications. In all of these instances, SSA assigned the immigrants a second original SSN instead of a replacement card.
EAE's efficiency and effectiveness is diminished when SSA does not receive immigrants' complete names or previously assigned SSNs. EAE records with complete identifying information decrease the likelihood that SSA will assign multiple SSNs. Accordingly, we believe SSA must take a proactive role in addressing name standardization issues.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
We believe EAE has the potential to assist the Agency in preventing fraud and improving customer service. We recognize SSA must rely on assistance and support from State and DHS. However, weaknesses exist in controls and operations we believe SSA needs to address to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the EAE process. This is particularly important given SSA's interest in expanding EAE to other classes of noncitizens. Ultimately, the success of SSA's efforts will depend on the priority it places on improving existing EAE controls and operations and how successful it is in obtaining assistance and support from State and DHS.
Accordingly, we recommend that SSA:
1. Enhance its duplicate record and previously assigned SSN edits to provide greater protection against multiple SSN assignment.
2. Reemphasize to FO personnel the importance of appropriate EM resolution to avoid multiple SSN assignment.
3. Cross-reference multiple SSNs the Agency assigned to immigrants we identified during our review. We will provide further details regarding these individuals under separate cover.
4. Continue to work with State and DHS to provide clear instructions to immigrants on SSN attainment.
5. Consider providing its handout regarding SSN attainment to immigrants in their native languages.
6. Continue to work with State and DHS to resolve data incompatibility issues, including name standardization.
7. Until SSA resolves its data compatibility problems, consider contacting EAE applicants to resolve pending records.
AGENCY COMMENTS AND OIG RESPONSE
We believe SSA's response and planned actions adequately address Recommendations 1 through 6. However, we believe SSA's response to Recommendation 7 does not effectively address our concern that one of every four EAE applicants cannot obtain an SSN unless they visit an FO, which defeats the purpose of EAE. Given SSA's commitment to world-class service, we continue to believe the Agency should use available information to attempt to contact EAE applicants to resolve pending records.
Regarding SSA's response to Recommendation 7, we acknowledge that SSA may not
always have complete or correct address information on pending EAE applications.
However, we believe most EAE pending applications have adequate address information
because SSA would have mailed an SSN card to the same address had MES processed
the application. As stated in the report, MES failed to process EAE records
primarily because of minor data incompatibility problems, such as commas, periods,
colons, and other improperly placed blank spaces. As such, we believe SSA could
review most of these pending records and generally determine it has adequate
address information. We encourage SSA to reconsider its response to Recommendation
SSA also provided technical comments that we considered and incorporated, where appropriate. The full text of SSA's comments is included in Appendix D. Additionally, because of State's significant role in the EAE process, we provided that agency a copy of the draft report for comments. State's comments are included in Appendix E.
FO Personnel Did Not Always Comply with Enumeration Policies and Procedures
During our FO visits, we determined that SSA personnel were generally complying with EAE policy, but they did not always comply with other Agency enumeration policies. For example, we observed SSA personnel
not using black lights when reviewing DHS evidentiary documents,
inputting applicant names in MES that differed from the names shown on identity documents presented, and
enumerating all family members at one time.
Because we previously reported on FO noncompliance with enumeration policies and procedures, we are not making any recommendations related to the observances of noncompliance detected during this review.
Patrick P. O'Carroll, Jr.
APPENDIX A - Acronyms
APPENDIX B - Flowcharts of the Enumeration at Entry Process
APPENDIX C - Scope, Methodology and Sample Appraisal
APPENDIX D - Agency Comments
APPENDIX E - Department of State Comments
APPENDIX F - OIG Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments
DS-230 Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration
DHS Department of Homeland Security
State Department of State
EAE Enumeration at Entry
EM Enumeration Feedback Message
FO Field Office
FY Fiscal Year
LAPR Lawfully Admitted as Permanent Resident
MES Modernized Enumeration System
POMS Program Operations Manual System
SS-5 Application for a Social Security Card
SSA Social Security Administration
SSN Social Security Number
Flowcharts of the Enumeration at Entry Process
Flowchart 1. Departments of State (State) and Homeland Security (DHS) Roles in the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Enumeration at Entry (EAE) Process
Flowchart 2. SSA's SSN Assignment via EAE
Scope, Methodology and Sample Appraisal
To accomplish our objective, we reviewed the Social Security Administration's (SSA) policies and procedures for assigning Social Security numbers (SSN) to lawfully admitted permanent residents (LAPR). We held discussions with SSA personnel responsible for enumeration policy and procedures, systems, and operations. We visited U.S. Consulates in Montreal, Canada, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. A representative from the Department of State's Office of Inspector General coordinated and accompanied us on our visit to Mexico. We also visited five Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ports of entry and six SSA field offices (FO) in New York, New Jersey, Texas, and California. We selected the DHS locations based on the volume of immigrants and nearby SSA FOs with a high average of Enumeration at Entry (EAE) pending and/or processed records.
We interviewed personnel at each of the Consulates and ports of entry to obtain an understanding of their role in SSA's EAE process. In addition, we observed Consulate representatives interviewing applicants and processing immigrants' visas. We also observed DHS personnel interviewing intended immigrants and admitting LAPRs.
During our site visits to SSA FOs, we interviewed staff to determine their knowledge of the EAE process. We also observed FO personnel interviewing LAPRs and processing immigrant SSN applications. We obtained data from each office regarding the number of EAE applications pending in SSA's Modernized Enumeration System (MES) either as a "not complete or investigate." We selected 50 EAE pending records (with status of "not complete") to determine why MES was unable to process them. We determined whether EAE applicants also visited an FO and applied again for an SSN. For those applicants who visited an FO, we determined how quickly the individual visited the FO after admission into the United States as an LAPR.
We also obtained SSA's MES transaction history file for noncitizens who obtained an original SSN via the EAE process from December 2003 through February 2004. From our population of 10,752 EAE records, we reviewed first names for completeness, and we randomly selected a sample of 250 records to determine whether SSA subsequently assigned a second SSN to those individuals.
The SSA entities reviewed were the Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Operations,
Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Disability and Income Security Programs,
and Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Systems. We relied primarily on MES
to complete our review and determined the MES data used in the report were sufficiently
reliable given the audit objective and use of the data. We conducted our work
from March through November 2004 in accordance with generally accepted government
The following table shows our sample size, results, and appraisal.
Table 1: Sample Results and Projection on Multiple SSNs Identified
SAMPLE ATTRIBUTE APPRAISAL
Total Population of Original SSNs SSA Assigned to Immigrants via the EAE Process
from December 2003 through February 2004
Sample Size 250
Number of Instances in Sample Where SSA Assigned Multiple SSNs to Immigrants 27
Estimate of Instances in Population Where SSA Assigned Multiple SSNs to Immigrants 1,161
Projection-Lower Limit 834
Projection-Upper Limit 1,564
Projection made at the 90-percent confidence level.
Estimate 1: Estimation of Multiple SSN Cases Where System Edits Did Not Identify Duplicate Applications on Same Date or Previously Assigned SSNs
We identified 27 (about 11 percent) multiple SSNs from our review of 250 sample cases. Of the 27 multiple SSN cases, we determined 21 of these occurred because system edits did not identify duplicate applications on the same date or previously assigned SSNs. Based on these results, we estimate about 903 (about 78 percent) of the projected 1,161 multiple SSNs are due to system edits not identifying duplicate applications on same date or previously assigned SSNs. We calculated our estimate as follows: 21 ÷ 27 =.77777 X 1,161 = 902.99 (903).
Estimate 2: Estimation of Multiple SSN Cases Where FO Personnel Improperly Resolved Enumeration Feedback Messages
We identified 27 (about 11 percent) multiple SSNs from our review of 250 sample cases. Of the 27 multiple SSN cases, we determined 6 occurred because FO personnel improperly resolved enumeration feedback messages. Based on these results, we estimate about 258 (about 22 percent) of the projected 1,161 multiple SSNs are due to FO personnel improperly resolving EMs. We calculated our estimate as follows: 6 ÷ 27 =.22222 X 1,161 = 257.99 (258).
Estimate 3: Estimation of Multiple SSN Cases Where Immigrants Visited an FO Within 1 Week of Entering the United States as an LAPR
We identified 27 (about 11 percent) multiple SSNs from our review of 250 sample
cases. Of the 27 multiple SSN cases, we determined 15 belonged to immigrants
who visited an SSA FO within 1 week of entering the United States as an LAPR.
Based on these results, we estimate about 645 (about 56 percent) of the projected
1,161 multiple SSNs belong to immigrants who visited an FO within 1 week of
entering the United States as an LAPR. We calculated our estimate as follows:
15 ÷ 27 =.55555 X 1,161 = 644.99 (645).
Date: February 22, 2005
To: Patrick P. O'Carroll, Jr.
From: Larry W. Dye
Chief of Staff
Subject: Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Draft Report "Assessment of the Enumeration at Entry Process" (A-08-04-14093)--INFORMATION
We appreciate OIG's efforts in conducting this review. Our comments on the draft report content and recommendations are attached.
Please let me know if you have any questions. Staff inquiries may be directed to Candace Skurnik, Director, Audit Management and Liaison Staff, at extension 54636.
COMMENTS ON THE OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL DRAFT REPORT "ASSESSMENT
OF THE ENUMERATION AT ENTRY PROCESS"
Thank you for the opportunity to review and comment on the subject draft report. We agree that the Enumeration at Entry (EAE) process has the potential to assist in strengthening Social Security number (SSN) integrity and will provide high quality service to SSA's immigrant population. We also appreciate your acknowledgement that the success, outside of our efforts to improve the EAE process, depends on the assistance and support from the Department of State (State) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
As you are aware, we also conducted a review of the EAE process and the preliminary results of that review, which we shared with you on February 4, 2005, are consistent with your findings in that the EAE is more susceptible to multiple SSN issuances than the regular enumeration process. The specific recommendations being made based on our study are currently undergoing intercomponent review and are not yet final. We will use the data available from your review, as well as our study, to serve as the basis for making further enhancements to the EAE process.
Below are our responses to your specific recommendations as well as some technical comments that were developed to enhance the accuracy of the report.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) should enhance its duplicate record and previously assigned SSN edits to provide greater protection against multiple SSN assignment.
We agree. We are forming a workgroup to look into changes to improve enumeration systems screening and will address this recommendation as part of that workgroup's efforts. However, we also need to be cautious as unintended consequences can be produced by either tightening or loosening matching routines.
SSA should reemphasize to Field Office (FO) personnel the importance of appropriate
Enumeration Feedback Message (EM) resolution to avoid multiple SSN assignment.
We agree. FO personnel must process EM messages promptly and accurately to avoid the assignment of multiple SSNs. We will issue an Administrative Message (AM) with reminders on resolving EM messages related to the EAE process. We expect to release the AM in February 2005.
SSA should cross-reference multiple SSNs the Agency assigned to immigrants identified during the review.
We agree. We have taken action to cross-refer the multiple SSNs identified during the review.
SSA should continue to work with State and DHS to provide clear instructions to immigrants on SSN attainment.
We agree. We will work with State and DHS to provide clear instructions to immigrants on SSN attainment.
SSA should consider providing its handout regarding SSN attainment to immigrants in their native languages.
We agree. We will contact State to discuss the feasibility of providing such handouts.
SSA should continue to work with State and DHS to resolve data incompatibility issues, including name standardization.
We agree. We will contact State and DHS to discuss these data incompatibility
issues and explore ways to resolve them.
Until SSA resolves its data compatibility problems, it should consider contacting EAE applicants to resolve pending records.
We disagree. We do not have complete or correct address information on pending EAE applications, making contact with the applicants difficult or impossible.
Department of State Comments
Social Security Administration OIG Draft Report:
"Assessment of the Enumeration at Entry (EAE) Process" (A-08-04-14093)
Department of State Comments
General Observations: The report identifies important opportunities for improving this data-sharing arrangement. The Department of State is fully prepared to work closely with SSA and DHS to further refine the process that has been in place since October 2002. We agree the program should be strengthened prior to introducing additional data sharing for other visa categories.
The SSA/OIG draft Report did not make specific recommendations for State, but it points out some perceived weaknesses that we might address.
1. EAE records did not always include immigrants' complete names or SSNs.
Comment: The SSA/OIG draft report is concerned that EAE records State and DHS transmit to SSA do not always include immigrants' complete names or previously assigned SSNs. The State data are the most accurate and most up-to-date available to consular officers. Names are entered into visa records exactly as they appear in the applicant's passport.
2. State did not include immigrants' previously assigned SSNs on EAE records it forwarded to SSA, even though the immigrants included the SSNs on their visa applications.
Comment: Officers will be encouraged to double-check the information provided by the applicants to questions 33a and 33b on the IV application form (DS-230). However, our analysis showed that most of the information provided on the DS-230 is transmitted to the SSA by DHS, not DOS. It is not clear how the information is processed at the DHS level before being transmitted to SSA.
3. SSA personnel explained that they provided State and DHS with specific data requirements, but that those agencies' data systems continue to allow characters MES will not accept.
Comment: In any data-sharing regimen, Federal agencies may have different formatting standards. Generally, it is the receiving agency that must translate any differences so that its systems can effectively receive another agency's data. This is the most effective approach, rather than asking the sending agency to makes itself aware of the intricacies of the receiving agency's database system. In other words, our view is that since SSA is aware of this issue, it would be best for SSA to create and manage a solution as part of its data quality assurance efforts.
S:\VO Special Assistant\2005-02 Taskers\2005-02 Notes, Memos\T0182 Comments on SSA OIG Report
Drafted: CA/VO/I: Noubassem Namde (x3-2192) (02-23-2005)
Cleared: CA/VO/I: MSardinas -ok-
CA/EX/CSD: DWilliams -ok-
CA/VO/F/P: KChristensen -ok-
CA/VO: DBean: -ok-
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OIG Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments
Kim Byrd, Director, (205) 801-1605
Jeff Pounds, Audit Manager, (205) 801-1606
In addition to those named above:
Theresa Roberts, Senior Auditor
Kenley Coward, Program Analyst
Kimberly Beauchamp, Writer-Editor
Rich Astor, Department of State, Office of Inspector General
Robert Wurster, Department of State, Office of Inspector General
For additional copies of this report, please visit our web site at www.socialsecurity.gov/oig or contact the Office of the Inspector General's Public Affairs Specialist at (410) 965-3218. Refer to Common Identification Number A-08-04-14093.
Overview of the Office of the Inspector General
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is comprised of our Office of Investigations (OI), Office of Audit (OA), Office of the Chief Counsel to the Inspector General (OCCIG), and Office of Executive Operations (OEO). To ensure compliance with policies and procedures, internal controls, and professional standards, we also have a comprehensive Professional Responsibility and Quality Assurance program.
Office of Audit
OA conducts and/or supervises financial and performance audits of the Social Security Administration's (SSA) programs and operations and makes recommendations to ensure program objectives are achieved effectively and efficiently. Financial audits assess whether SSA's financial statements fairly present SSA's financial position, results of operations, and cash flow. Performance audits review the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of SSA's programs and operations. OA also conducts short-term management and program evaluations and projects on issues of concern to SSA, Congress, and the general public.
Office of Investigations
OI conducts and coordinates investigative activity related to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement in SSA programs and operations. This includes wrongdoing by applicants, beneficiaries, contractors, third parties, or SSA employees performing their official duties. This office serves as OIG liaison to the Department of Justice on all matters relating to the investigations of SSA programs and personnel. OI also conducts joint investigations with other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies.
Office of the Chief Counsel to the Inspector General
OCCIG provides independent legal advice and counsel to the IG on various matters, including statutes, regulations, legislation, and policy directives. OCCIG also advises the IG on investigative procedures and techniques, as well as on legal implications and conclusions to be drawn from audit and investigative material. Finally, OCCIG administers the Civil Monetary Penalty program.
Office of Executive Operations
OEO supports OIG by providing information resource management and systems security. OEO also coordinates OIG's budget, procurement, telecommunications, facilities, and human resources. In addition, OEO is the focal point for OIG's strategic planning function and the development and implementation of performance measures required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993.