DOL Needs to Improve H-2A Data: GAO Report

DOL Needs to Improve H-2A Data: GAO Report

"The H-2A visa program allows U.S. employers that anticipate a shortage of domestic agricultural workers to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis. GAO issued a report on the process employers follow in applying for these workers and made several recommendations to the Department of Labor (Labor) for improving that process In pursuing work on that report, GAO found that the number of applications submitted by employers for H-2A worker positions, the number of H-2A worker positions requested, and the number of worker positions approved by Labor cited in Labor's annual reports from fiscal year 2006 and FY 2012 sometimes differed from the numbers reported by Labor in the data it makes available to the public on its website. GAO also found that much of the data Labor reported from applications submitted on behalf of multiple employers for this same period contained inconsistencies and that Labor lacked internal controls to monitor and prevent these inconsistencies. As a result, GAO was unable to rely on the data to draw conclusions about trends in usage of the H-2A program and, in some cases, found the data to be unreliable in terms of the number and identity of the employers seeking H-2A workers. Finally, GAO found that the new system Labor is using to allow employers to file their H-2A applications electronically, iCERT, does not contain data edit checks to ensure its accuracy. To inform users of the data's reliability and completeness and to improve the quality of future data, GAO recommends that Labor take steps to disclose the limitations of the H-2A data it posts on its website, and that Labor verify the data provided on multi-employer applications." - GAO, July 2, 2013.