Mind-boggling incompetence at DHS sends permanent residency green cards to people who didn’t apply for them

The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General John Roth has issued a report that, in any private sector company, would have people fired, but in government will probably only see budgets increased. You see, the people in charge of keeping out terrorists who have proclaimed their intention to infiltrate us and destroy us with weapons of mass destruction have been sending permanent residency cards out to the wrong addresses. Even to people who have filed change-of-address forms. And the inauguration of a new computer system to handle the process in 2012 made the problem worse.

Joe Davidson of the Washington Post’s Federal Insider column, is appropriately outraged:

...when the government sends cards to the wrong address, it’s a big problem for those who should have them but don’t and for government officials who wince at the thought of the cards in the wrong hands.

Now comes word that since U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) installed its Electronic Immigration System (ELIS) in 2012, the number of cards going to the wrong places has only increased.

By how much, no one seems to know.

In this age of terror, this can be more serious than an employee working without proper papers.

And officials are not exactly on top of the problem:

…officials acknowledge there is “no accurate means of identifying the exact number of potentially hundreds of cards sent to incorrect addresses for cases processed in ELIS.”

As seems to be the case repeatedly in government lately, the blame goes to the computer systems, as if they are beyond the control of chief information officers. But that’s apparently the case at CIS.

The report says the cards were sent erroneously “due to a system limitation” that prevented humans from changing the addresses. Even when green-card holders requested a change of address, employees could not update the system.

In other words, the computer system was mal-designed in the first place. Which seems to be the rule for government data processing projects. And of course, as computerization takes over more and more aspects of work, the incompetence level of government activity is on the rise. While the rest of the economy increases in efficiency with the IT revolution, the government is headed in the opposite direction – even as government increases in size relative to the rest of the economy.

Davidson asked for comment from the DHS, and the response from the CIS director is either hilarious of infuriating, depending on how you seriously you regard matters of protecting us from terrorists:

[CIS Director León] Rodríguez was critical of the report, however, saying it “does not fully recognize the extent of USCIS’ efforts to implement new technology and the extraordinary impact that these changes have had on the effectiveness of the system.” Several of the findings “do not reflect the drastically improved approaches put into place as we rebuilt our Electronic Immigration System,” he said, adding that the report did not “fully acknowledge” improvements made after an inspector general’s audit period, which ended in July.

Roth’s office sought comment on the report from CIS management before publication. The document said Rodríguez “did not understand our ‘report’s assertion that national security was impacted based on address changes by applicants.’ ”

Roth’s office did not understand that misunderstanding.

“It is intuitive,” the report said, “that sending official USCIS credentials to unauthorized individuals poses potential national security risks.”

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit likes to sarcastically comment, “The country’s in the best of hands” when featuring government incompetence.

If only…

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