Cablegate: Certification of Consular Management Controls

Published: Sat 27 Feb 2010 07:19 PM
DE RUEHMO #0438/01 0581919
R 271919Z FEB 10
E.O. 12958: N/A
Ref: State 12136
1. In accordance with reftel, the Consular Section at U.S. Embassy
Moscow completed its review of consular management controls on 25
February 2010. Richard Beer, FE-OC, Consul General, certifies that
the management review was successfully completed and that we are in
compliance with the Department guidelines with the exception of two
items: line-of-sight for IV printing and physical access to the
Section by non-consular employees. Both of these issues will be
corrected in the coming months.
2. Below is a narrative of our review of consular management
A. Inventory Count and Reconciliation of Accountable Items: Post has
conducted inventories of accountable consular supplies in the NIV,
IV and ACS sections. Post always uses the AI module to manage visa
foils, CRBAs, passport books and foils; all other accountable items
are tracked through a spreadsheet system maintained by the ACO. The
physical inventory reconciles with the AI and ACO-file inventory
records. The following officers participated in the inventories:
Richard Beer, Consul General; Julie Stufft, overall section ACO and
ACS ACO; Doug Johnston, NIV ACO, and Jessica Wolf-Hudson, IV ACO.
B. Guidance:
- All consular officers have access to 7 and 9 FAM, 7 FAH and CA
web on their desktops as Qfavorites.Q Moscow officers have access
to classified references (including CAWeb) and are encouraged to
read classified traffic at least bi-monthly (classified access is
located in another building). Consular supervisors routinely stress
that only official Department guidance should be consulted. No one
should be using training materials or outdated SOPs as references.
- All consular officers in Moscow have access to classified systems
located in another building. Consular officers from the St.
Petersburg and Yekaterinburg consulates travel to Moscow quarterly
in order to read classified material. MoscowQs Consular Section
facilitates their travel, lodging and classified access. For reasons
of cost and travel convenience, the lone consular officer at
Consulate Vladivostok travels to Embassy Seoul for quarterly access
to the classified system. The Consular Chief checks the classified
system daily and, in his absence, the acting Consular Chief does the
same. Other supervisory officers check the classified system on at
least a weekly basis.
C. Consular Shared Tables (CST) Management: Post has reviewed its
CST tables and verifies it is in full compliance; CST roles are
checked by the FPM on a monthly basis to ensure that they are
accurate in the system. RSO staff has non-consular roles in INK,
NIV and CCD. All parser roles have been disabled in CST. All
adjudicatory and management roles are limited to American consular
officers. ACOs for fees have separate user IDs for ACRS and ACOs
were advised to set different passwords for ACRS. LES consular
cashiers have been set up with different user IDs and passwords in
ACRS as well. Systems passwords are periodically reset (when the
system prompts a change) and are self selected by the individuals.
Only the individual user has access to their individual passwords
and passwords are never shared.
D. Physical Access:
- Regular access is limited to consular section employees and those
whose responsibilities require access. Currently two employees of
our courier service, Pony Express, also have a door combination
which allows access during business hours for passport pick-up and
delivery. We recognize this is a vulnerability and have requested
construction of an entrance with access remotely controlled by an
MSG or local guard. Pending construction of that access, we are
installing a buzzer and changing the door combination. When
complete, Pony Express employees will have to press the buzzer for
access. These contract employees, due to the nature of their work,
require frequent access.
- LES personnel are not present outside of office hours unless a
cleared American is present. During working hours, controlled items
are secured if an American consular officer is not present.
E. Access to PII: Post confirms that collection of PII is kept to a
minimum. Access to consular systems containing PII is controlled
and limited to consular section employees or those with a legitimate
need to see this information; PII is properly secured after business
hours. Post has not had any incidents of disclosure of PII.
F. Control/Reconciliation/Destruction of Accountable Items: Post
confirms that accountable consular items are controlled, handled,
destroyed and accounted for in accordance with 7 FAH-1 H-600. The
AI module is being used for reconciling daily usage of accountable
consular supplies. Post has not had any instance of a missing
controlled item in the last twelve months, but reported the loss of
two missing passport-application barcodes in January 2010, after the
barcodes lost adhesion and fell from the roll. Post is properly
destroying spoiled consular accountable items and recording their
witnessed destruction in AI when applicable. Post recently sent two
cables (09 Moscow 2612 and Moscow 3156) including serial numbers of
presumed-destroyed items, dating back to 2002, which were still
listed in AI as not destroyed; ACO destroyed these in the AI system
per Department guidance.
G. Cash Accountability: Post confirms that the Accountable Consular
Officer, alternates, and consular sub-cashiers, have been designated
using the model letters found on the CA web. The ACO and alternates
have completed PC-417, and all consular cashiers and alternates have
successfully completed PC-419. The ACO has on file the Daily
Accounting sheets for the last twelve months signed by both the FMO
and ACO, noting no discrepancies between cash count and ACRS
H. Periodic Comparison of MRV fees and NIV applications: Post
confirms the regular and robust periodic comparison of MRV fees and
applications on a weekly basis. When postQs ACO receives deposit
reports from the off-site fee collection agency, she verifies these
against OF-158 receipts issued by postQs Class B cashier, and
creates a weekly report comparing the number of NIV applications and
the fees registered for that month. Post is using the DS-160. Under
current arrangements with our offsite collection agency, it produces
one copy of the MRV receipt, which is attached to the passport and
initialed by the officer at the time of visa adjudication, to
prevent its re-use. At present the offisite collection agency is
unable to generate a second copy of the MRV receipt for retention by
us. Given these new reconciliation procedures, we will request that
the agency do this.
I. Referral System: Post certifies it is in full compliance with the
Worldwide Referral Policy. All Mission officers are required to
attend a referral briefing and submit a signed compliance agreement
before they can submit referrals. Only officers under COM authority
are permitted to submit referrals and all referral data is captured
in the NIV system. The section chief personally reviews every
referral (A and B) upon submission and before data entry, to confirm
that it meets referral criteria, and returns to the referring
officer with an explanation those that do not meet criteria.
Referrals are reviewed for fraud trends. Only tenured officers
adjudicate Class B referrals. The section chief adjudicates all
Class A referrals. Referrals from within the Consular section and
from all other sections and agencies are handled in an identical
J. Training:
- All American and locally employed staff are adequately trained
for their responsibilities, including awareness of fraud in visa
applications and other benefits.
- All cashiers have completed PC-419. All officers and some
locally employed staff have completed PC 441; those who have not
yet taken the course are currently registered and in the process of
completing the on-line class.
- All ACOs have completed PC-400 and PC-417, as appropriate.
K. Standards of Employee Conduct: We reviewed the DepartmentQs
Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch
during one of our regularly scheduled training days and provided
each officer with a copy of those standards. The Consul General
made particular application of these standards to our local context.
There are no influences brought to bear on either the visa or
passport process that would lead to any perception of impropriety.
Officers are instructed to recuse themselves from cases where there
may be a real or perceived conflict of interest. The Consular
Section is in compliance with the Department standards on gift
giving and receiving. The Consul General makes a practice of
reminding/reinforcing these standards regularly during weekly staff
meetings and our monthly Consular training days. We have reminded
all members of the Consular Section of the reporting requirements
and options for reporting possible unethical or malfeasant
L. Namecheck and Clearance Reviews: All consular officers are
aware of and comply with VLA requirements. Officers understand that
if a there is insufficient biographical data to exclude a hit or if
the hit is a close match, that it should be treated as if it were a
M. Visa Lookout Accountability (VLA): Consular supervisors review
a random sampling of issuances to verify that adjudicating officers
comply with VLA procedures. In addition, bimonthly the FPM pulls
the CCD generated report that deals with QIssuances over CAT 1 hits
to ensure that officers are compliant with the guidelines. Over the
past year, we have held two training sessions on VLA procedures and
guidelines. When new officers arrive at Post, VLA responsibilities
are explained in detail.
N. Intake, Interview, and Screening : The NIV and IV Units are in
full compliance with Department instructions regarding intake,
interview and screening. LESs data enter, screen for completeness
of documentation and take fingerprints. They do not ask further
questions or make notes. LESs do not turn away anyone who has paid
the MRV fee. If an application is incomplete, an officer refuses
221(g). IV applicants are interviewed by an officer and refused
221(g) if they are missing any required documents.
O. Oversight of processing:
- Adequate supervision of processing is exercised by American
- The layout of the antiquated annex building which houses the
Consular section makes it difficult to co-locate cleared Americans
with local staff in every case. However, we have improved
co-location during the past year. A new Immigrant Visa furniture
configuration, when completed, will improve line of site in that
- The NIV Unit moved its visa printing operation to improve line of
site supervision. Due to the physical layout of the IV Unit, there
is currently not line of sight of visa printing stations in IV,
although a planned reconfiguration of the IV Unit in the coming
months will provide direct officer line-of-sight over all printers
in the IV Unit.
- The IV Unit Chief exercises oversight of the panel physicians
located in Moscow, including occasional unannounced visits. The
most recent unannounced visit occurred in January and February 2010.
The Consul in Vladivostok exercises direct oversight of the panel
physicians located in Vladivostok and visited the clinic last year.
At that time, he found all procedures to be in accordance with FAM
guidance. The Vladivostok-based panel physician divides her time
between a local hospital and the clinic where IV medical
examinations are conducted, making it difficult to conduct an
unannounced visit, but the Consul in Vladivostok plans to complete
an unannounced visit in mid-March.
P. Biometric collection: The Consular Section is in compliance
with Bio/Visa Enrollment policy and procedures found in 9 FAM
Appendix L. LES collect fingerprints and American Officers verify
them. Where fingerprint quality is too low for verification, an EFM
collects fingerprints.
Q. Photo Standards: Post rigorously applies the photo standards of
the Department. Fortunately, most of our applicants visit a Pony
Express contractor site prior to submission of application. Pony
Express advises applicants to replace unacceptable photos with
proper photos before applicants visit us or before they send their
applications to us, in the case of interview waiver candidates. If
a photo is dated, we refuse the case 221(g) and request a new
R. Visa Adjudication Oversight:
- NIV refusals and issuances are reviewed electronically daily by
the appropriate supervisors in the chain of command. If a
supervisory officer determines that an error was made during initial
adjudication, the supervisory officer re-interviews the applicant
and speaks with the adjudicating officer prior to adjudicating the
case under his/her own login. In these rare cases, the supervisory
officer enters a thorough explanation in the system. Per
DepartmentQs guidance, all of visa applicants for whom a personal
appearance is required are being interviewed.
- The Fraud Prevention Unit (FPU) regularly reviews issuance
patterns to third country nationals and reports trends to the Consul
General and to all adjudicating officers. Russian posts are
authorized to adjudicate Belarusian visa applicants (they are not
considered to be applying out-of-district) due to understaffing in
Minsk. FPU regularly conducts validation studies of these
applicants and reports its findings.
- We do not have a written re-application process. Applicants may
apply at a time of their choosing through normal visa application
S. Files: Post confirms that it is compliant with the records
disposition schedule in 9 FAM Appendix F. In December 2009, we
began using the on-line CEAC application for all NIV applicants and
therefore, we no longer keep paper records after the NIV case is
closed. Additionally, all consular employees, officers, LES and
EFMs, understand and abide by INA 222(F).
T. Passports and CRBAs: Post confirms that procedures are in place
to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the U.S. passport and CRBA
functions. Post conducts namechecks for all
passport services, including extra visa pages. The ACS Unit Chief
audits passport cases adjudicated at post for accuracy,
completeness, and fraud detection purposes.
U. Fraud Prevention Programs: Post confirms that there is active
oversight of the Fraud Prevention Unit by a tenured, mid-level
consular officer. All consular officers use the electronic system
to refer cases to the FPU for investigation. These cases are first
reviewed by the Fraud Prevention Manager (FPM) and then the notes
are inserted into the case instructing what action is required by
the LES. To ensure that the reports are unbiased and accurate and
that no further action is required all investigation reports are
reviewed by the FPM prior to processing the results in the system.
The FPM randomly selects one to two cases a month to verify the
results. We have not conducted a field investigation over the past
year, but in the event that a field investigation was required, a
consular officer would accompany the LES.
V. Wilberforce Act: The Consular Section conducted Wilberforce
training on one of its regularly scheduled training days. The same
information was conveyed to constituent posts during one of our
monthly digital video conferences. Moscow designated an officer to
ensure compliance with the Wilberforce Act. Moscow has sufficient
copies of the brochures on hand and officers ensure that every
affected applicant reads and understands the brochure.
W. Oversight of Applicant Service Centers (ASCs): Not applicable.
X. Consular Agents: A new Consular Agent was recently designated
for Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, in the Russian Far East. He is under the
supervision of Consulate Vladivostok, although Embassy Moscow is
handling matters relating to his accreditation by the Russian
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media