$US1B to digitise a single US Immigration form: WSJ reports

The Wall Street Journal has reported that despite an outlay of $US1 billion and a decade long effort to digitise 100 paper based forms used to process applications to immigrate to the US, only one has successfully been implemented.

It describes the application system, run by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as “archaic” and “error-filled.

The project to replace the paper forms was initially costed at $US500 million and due to end in 2013. That timetable has now moved to estimated completion in 2019 at a total cost of up to $US3.1 billion according to the WSJ.

“The sole form now available for electronic filing is an application for renewing or replacing a lost “green card” — the document given to legal permanent residents. By putting this application online, the agency aimed to bypass the highly inefficient system in which millions of paper applications are processed and shuttled among offices. But government documents show that scores of immigrants who applied online waited up to a year or never received their new cards, disrupting their plans to work, attend school and travel.

“You’re going on 11 years into this project, they only have one form, and we’re still a paper-based agency,’’ said Kenneth Palinkas, former president of the union that represents employees at the immigration agency. “It’s a huge albatross around our necks.’’

DHS officials acknowledge the setbacks but say the government is well on the way to automating the immigration service, which processes about 8 million applications a year. The department has scrapped the earlier technology and development method and is now adopting a new approach relying in part on cloud computing.

The full report is available HERE