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False Reporting by Contractor on Alternatives to Detention Activities

Published Mar 7, 2023

What lies behind ICE’s frequent posting of Alternatives to Detention (ATD) data that the agency now admits was incorrect? The data ICE had been posting for months showed that use of GPS ankle monitors had been increasing. ICE now reports this is incorrect, that ankle monitor usage is in fact way down, not up.

TRAC received a partial answer in the data we received March 1, 2023, in response to one of our FOIA requests. ICE reported these records comprised a copy of the participant-by-participant report that ICE’s contractor BI, Inc., had furnished at the end of FY 2022. This report had been the basis of the statistics ICE had posted back on September 29, 2022 and remained online at the agency’s website through December 8, 2022. [1]

TRAC analyzed this newly released participant-by-participant report from BI, Inc. We found that the contractor (a subsidiary of the GEO Group), which is responsible for carrying out the ATD program, has systematically reported incorrect information to ICE, which ICE then passed along, uncorrected, to the public.

Indeed, the numbers ICE had originally posted for FY 2022 corresponded exactly to the participant-by-participant information BI, Inc. had sent ICE. Precisely matching were the national total of ATD persons monitored, the national breakdown by technology used, as well as the corresponding office-by-office details.

This clearly wasn’t an isolated problem, but a practice of systematic misreporting which has been ongoing in BI’s weekly reporting to ICE. These numbers showed an ongoing increase in the number of migrants monitored by GPS ankle monitors which on September 30, 2022, TRAC had written about:

“ICE’s use of GPS ankle monitors shot back up to nearly 41,000 after steadily declining for over a year and reaching a low of just 16,444 in July 2022. This means that nearly 25,000 immigrants have been added to ICE list of people with ankle monitors in less than two months, at the average rate of over 400 net people added each day.”

ICE’s posted figures during this current fiscal year showed GPS ankle monitor usage continuing to climb from nearly 41,000 at the end of September to 56,805 at the beginning of December. See ICE posted statistics as of December 5, 2022, showing GPS ankle monitor usage at 56,805. The detailed report TRAC received March 1, 2023, showed not only that the erroneous numbers on the use of GPS ankle monitors had been steadily increasing, but this BI’s participant report showed that this increase was occurring for large numbers of newly assigned migrants who had just been added to the ATD program.

This raises a number of questions. Who is minding the store? Is ICE not checking BI’s reports? How far back was this or other misreporting going on? And today, can the public trust the accuracy of current reports?

Misreporting involved more than the use of monitoring technologies. Substantial public funds may also be at stake. Comparing the supposedly “corrected” FY 2022 year-end report with the original version showed that ATD costs and presumably payments due the contractor also had substantially been inflated.

About 1 in 9 of the individuals BI had reported “monitoring” now showed up under the heading “no technology” with no charges due. Daily costs reported also dropped because use of GPS ankle monitors result in payments that were nearly 3 times higher per participant than use of SmartLINK. [2] All in all, payments due BI were apparently inflated by 31 percent as a result of these reporting errors. [3]

TRAC is continuing to pursue additional underlying documentation for current and past periods of time, as well as billing, payment and auditing records. The public and oversight bodies need full transparency on what is currently occurring, what took place in the past, and why no one at ICE apparently noticed what was going on.

[1]^ Compare original FY 2022 Year-End report (at “ATD FY22” tab), to what ICE has replaced it with on the agency’s current website here.
[2]^ “Daily Tech Cost” was reported as averaging $2.74/person for GPS, $0.96/person for SmartLINK, and $0.18/person for VoiceID.
[3]^ Based on the numbers of individuals monitored by technology in the original BI, Inc. Participant Report, ICE showed $361,218.08 as the total “Daily Tech Cost.” The corrected ICE report now on the agency’s website shows $276,221.52 as the total “Daily Tech Cost” for FY 2022.
TRAC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit data research center affiliated with the Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Whitman School of Management, both at Syracuse University. For more information, to subscribe, or to donate, contact trac@syr.edu or call 315-443-3563.