U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is moving forward with a plan to digitize millions of immigration documents, making them easier to access by immigration and law enforcement officials, the agency said Friday.
USCIS has contracted with Datatrac Information Services, Inc., to provide digitization services for millions of files, known as alien files or A-files, which immigrants fill out during the long, slow, arduous process of applying to enter the country and become citizens.
Under the first “call,” or task order, Datatrac is expected to digitize one million records in the next 12 months at the new facility it’s opened for the purpose in Williamsburg, Ky., in the home district of Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) who, not coincidentally, chairs the House Appropriations subcomittee for Homeland Security. Rogers is widely known as the “Prince of Pork” for bringing the homeland security bacon home to his eastern Kentucky district.
This means he decides where the homeland security money goes, and much of it goes to his district, whether it makes sense or not: More than 55 million of the estimated 70 million records to be digitized are in cold storage in Lee’s Summit, Mo., a suburb of Kansas City.
USCIS has already established the Records Digitization Facility in Williamsburg where Datatrac will digitize the first million records.
CIS awarded a blanket purchasing agreement on July 20 for the project to Datatrac Information Services Inc. of Richardson, Texas. The company estimated the contract’s value at $150 million over its five-year span. Datatrac will work with its subcontractor, Anacomp Inc. of San Diego to help CIS create, standardize and implement digitization technology for the new center, providing the foundation for electronic capture and management of the A-Files. — Government Computer News
At this rate the project, which will make the digitized files available to multiple users at the same time over the Department of Homeland Security’s network, will take about 70 years, and far exceed the $550 million estimates put forth by the Government Accountability Office earlier this year.
That report, published last May, found that USCIS “has not yet developed a plan governing how it will manage this program and the contractors working on it, and it has not yet developed a plan for measuring and evaluating the results of a pilot test of a document scanning and storage capability.” In other words, they’re flying blind.
There will be more on this pork-barrel boondoggle in the future, I am sure.