USCIS chief data officer prioritizing data quality in fiscal 2022

Linking digital records around the same person is key to streamlining the processing of immigration benefits.
A sign outside a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration office in the Northlake area of DeKalb County, Georgia. (Image credit: Gulbenk / Wikimedia Commons).

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ top priority is reducing the time it takes to obtain green cards, visas and employment authorizations in fiscal 2022, and for its Office of the Chief Data Officer that means first improving data quality, according to CDO Beth Puchek.

OCDO’s Data Quality Branch already created a process allowing USCIS‘s more than 1,000 data analysts to report data issues, and next the office wants to streamline processing of employment authorization documents (EADs).

To do that OCDO must first use data to determine which cases are easier to adjudicate among large groups before automating the process — thereby freeing up adjudicators to work on harder cases.

“Data standards are so important here because our legacy case management systems are very transactional; they’re not quite person-centric yet,” Puchek said, during a Data Foundation virtual event Tuesday. “So being able to link different records together or different receipts together around the same person — all these applications are really for the same person — has become incredibly important to reconcile as we are designing these latest streamlined processes.”


OCDO is about to refresh USCIS’s three-year-old data strategy, which has four goals: data management, business intelligence, network analytics and optimization. The exercise with involve making “hard choices” about what OCDO will and won’t address this year, but data standards are the priority, Puchek said.

Puchek is optimistic OCDO can implement more of the 108 data standards approved the last three years, despite them proving the hardest discipline to elevate among USCIS personnel due to aging internal systems.

“Now it’s considered technical debt,” Puchek said. “So it’s just hard to get it bumped up in the agile backlog and prioritize it.”

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