An ICE call center streamlined increases in case volume received during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) saw large increases in the volume of calls to one of its contact centers during the pandemic, and now the agency’s tech leadership is committed to applying automation technologies to ease these burdens in processing. -navigate its case management processes regarding its inmates.
The effort is part of ICE’s overall IT strategy to streamline the immigration process and improve data interoperability and functionality with other Department of Homeland Security agencies such as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The contact center under ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) division – called the ERO Contact Center of Operations (ECCO) – aims to use artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation to help process requests. faster. These requests may come from family members and attorneys trying to locate individuals detained by ICE. Individuals released by ICE are also required to check in regularly with ECCO.
Ramond Burries, ECCO Program Manager, told GovCIO Media & Research that ECCO modernization will enhance visibility and transparency in ICE and will also better protect the privacy of citizens and non -citizens.
Modernization efforts are especially critical because ECCO is experiencing very high call volumes and caseloads due to recent influxes in immigration to the southwestern border, Burries said.
ECCO’s operations are divided into a “three-tier prong,” Burries said. Tier 1 includes live calls, which are resolved when the call analyst has ended the call with the caller. Tier 2 includes callers whose cases are not resolved at the end of the call, where the case will be handed over to an ICE enforcement officer for further investigation. According to Burries, most Tier 2 cases are resolved within a business day or two.
Tier 3 cases, which include requests for information submitted through online forms, are a notable pain point for ECCO. These cases require extensive use of Microsoft SharePoint, which Burries said is not an adequate case management system for the department.
For example, if Burries wanted to take a three-month-old case, finding it would require complex IT processes because SharePoint archives any cases older than 60 days.
“That’s where IT modernization comes in,” he said. “It’s always been a funding issue. [With] Funding technology as a top priority over the past year or two, we’ve got funds to modernize these things. [With SharePoint], we don’t always get 100% clarity when a case closes. In the old module, SharePoint required an officer in the field to close the case then link back to headquarters the case was closed and they had done their job. Sometimes we miss that and we don’t get a response back that the case is closed. That’s where we see the points or issues. That can now be resolved with the new case management system. ”
Burries said ECCO plans to use ServiceNow for the new case management system based on the success of other federal agencies in the system for contact centers, such as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The Online Detainee Locator System (OLDS), managed by ECCO, has already seen significant improvements in efficiency thanks to AI. The online form allows family members, attorneys and other stakeholders to search for detainees based on their biographical information or A-Number, which is a number assigned by ICE to detainees.
“When I first started looking at this particular module here in 2014, it wasn’t automatic,” Burries said. “We used to run these scripts that would go to USCIS databases, find this information, retrieve it and send a response back.”
Today, OLDS runs checks every 20 minutes for new data from USCIS to ensure ECCO is up to date with the latest information on the status of an individual passing through the immigration system while ensuring the individual’s privacy.
“An example is, if they came with a B2 visitor’s visa, and something changed and now they have converted to‘ 384 ’and they have filed applications for the U visa in relation to some kind of case the agencies are working on, “Burries said.” The system will take that and protect them from exposure to the general public. “
Given the aforementioned increases in call and case volume over the past two years, these IT modernization efforts will alleviate the pressure on ECCO’s advancement.
Burries said total calls have jumped from 8,000 to 9,000 a day since the start of the pandemic. Due to the Biden administration’s request to transfer more immigrants to ICE’s Alternatives to Detention Program (ATD), ATD -related calls have risen from 20 to 200 per day.
“The third contributed [to high call and case volume] is what happens at the boundary at the beginning of ”Burries said, adding that immigrants there were specifically instructed to contact ECCO.“ We’re kind of an entry point for the agency, whether it’s victim services, or, ‘Hey thanks for introducing to me in the country, what am I going to do now? ‘”
Burries believes the modernization of the case management system and technologies such as AI will help ECCO better comply with audits or inquiries from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in the future.
“To get something, we have to make another request (through a data team) that goes through the archive system to pull it,” Burries said. “The new case management system gives us the ability to view all cases [holistically]. In SharePoint, you need to generate report parameters. If you’re not someone who creates SharePoint reports, you’ll need to ask someone to retrieve this information for you and compile the information. [ServiceNow gives] leadership the ability to extract data from many different sources. ”