|Title or Topic
||Review of Domestic Passport Operations Phase II: Fraud Prevention Program, (Report No. ISP-CA-03-25) |
||Office of the Inspector General, Department of State|
||Charles E. Sparks, Office Director, Bureau of Diplomatic Security|
- With improved support from bureau management, the passport fraud prevention operation could become a model border security program. At both headquarters and regional levels, support for fraud programs has been inconsistent. There is no model to match staffing levels against workloads. Internal training does not include formal feedback to passport specialists on the disposition of each fraud referral. Because acceptance agents execute about 80% of the passport applications for those who must personally appear, they would benefit from regularly scheduled training programs and on-site visits. DS has noted that U.S. attorneys are more interested in prosecuting passport fraud cases. However, U.S. attorneys cannot prosecute cases unless DS investigates and presents them to individual U.S. attorney offices. The Bureaus of Consluar Affairs (CA) and Diplomatic Security need to expand data sharing with each other and with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Social Security Administration (SSA) and the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC). Personnel need to be assigned to implement coordination and data sharing activities.
- The annual Domestic Passport Fraud Detection reports should be evaluated and categories listed defined as precisely as possible. The regulatory exemption that allows children under age 14 not to appear personally to apply for a U.S. passport should be eliminated. The appropriate staffing requirements for both bureaus should be determined to include sufficient staff to maximize access to INS, SSA and EPIC's interagency databases. Training schedules for all acceptance agents should be developed. Definitive written guidance on who manages the passport antifraud program should be written. DS must investigate individual cases fully and promptly. Expand efforts with U.S. attorney's offices to establish prosecution guidelines that bring about a greater number of, and a more consistent nationwide standard for, acceptances for prosecution.
|Major Actions Taken or That Will be Taken
- Comprehensive action plans have been developed, federal prosecutors are increasing focus on border security and accepting and prosecuting passport and visa fraud cases. Efforts are continuing to establish a performance metrics that would validate establishment of a permanent presence or alternatives in proposed sites such as EPIC. A Memorandum of Agreement is being developed with SSA to engage in information sharing. DS and CA have established regular/monthly meetings to share information. The development and implementation of an integrated, worldwide investigations database will establish a central index to manage all DS criminal cases investigations, electronically store and pass case-related information, provide direct access for all DS domestic and overseas investigative components, provide investigative/intelligence analysis and analytical processing and two-way data sharing with CA and other U.S. law enforcement agencies.
- DS and CA are collaborating in an unprecedented manner at all levels to protect the integrity of our passport and visa issuance processes. A robust intake of DS agents has resulted in a significant improvement in our responsiveness to the passport agencies and our overall investigative performance. DS has embarked on an aggressive case closing initiative to reduce the number of backlogged cases. The deployment of 23 agents to high fraud posts overseas will allow the Department to expand its investigative targets and work with the respective host government law enforcement, immigration and airport authorities to improve our capability to detect, deter and apprehend fraudulent document vendors/brokers and rings operating overseas. Development of investigative timelines and case categories for all types of investigations under DS purview will streamline the passport fraud investigation. Development of the worldwide investigations database will enhance the gathering, storage and dissemination of investigative information. DS and CA are participating in the newly formed Vulnerability Assessment Unit that will dramatically improve its ability to reduce vulnerabilities in these processes.