US Citizenship and Immigration Services
Enhancing critical systems
At a glance
We helped the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) modernize its cloud-based systems, including verification systems that process millions of transactions every year.
With the cloud solution in place, USCIS was able to increase the speed and accuracy of its data processing, so immigrants can more easily access benefits and start building their new life in America.
Key Technologies / Platforms
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Federal & national government
Helping individuals in the United States live healthy and prosperous lives
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) verification systems are used regularly by hundreds of thousands of people—citizens, immigrants, refugees, individuals seeking asylum—as well as by other agencies and businesses, and they process millions of transactions every year.
Slalom and USCIS are partnering on a three-year engagement to modernize the agency’s cloud-based systems, including the public-facing E-Verify and SAVE systems that are used to confirm individual eligibility for benefits and employment.
“One of the missions of the verification program is to provide services for people, with a variety of statuses, who arrive in the United States,” says Andreia Calin, a director at Slalom Build Seattle. “The work we are doing has a direct impact in the government, determining the timely and right benefits for these individuals. A large portion of people who arrive in the US and apply for these benefits come here to reunite with their families; others arrive after escaping dictatorial regimes. As a US citizen who is also a first-generation immigrant, I recognize the invaluable impact for those who come to the US seeking a better life.”
Slalom’s team of 150+ engineers and consultants is working across seven different geographic locations and collaborating with multiple USCIS contract teams. We’ve already completed a successful transition of eight USCIS legacy systems or “products”—six systems internal to USCIS and two systems that are public facing—from various incumbent vendors to enhanced cloud infrastructure. In an additional win for USCIS, our consultants were able to identify areas contributing to high technical spend and implemented initiatives that reduced USCIS’s cloud costs by approximately 20% in 2020.
Our technical approach to system enhancement
Slalom’s approach to any project is holistic. We take into consideration a client’s entire stakeholder ecosystem and the scale of the enhancement. In our partnership with USCIS, we aim to not only support its people and teams but also enhance the way other agencies and users engage with its systems.
Our consultants began the project by fostering a deep understanding of USCIS’s stakeholders and end users. We rapidly assessed the complex US immigration system as well as the technical landscape of specific internal and external USCIS systems.
Then we applied our product engineering methodology to help USCIS manage its portfolio of enterprise-level, internal, and external-facing applications. Our consultants combined software and systems engineering expertise to develop an automated approach to building and operating USCIS’s products that will ensure resilience for their entire life cycle.
Slalom consultants and USCIS staff are working in Agile teams with well-defined areas of responsibility for a full stack of services, including maintenance of the cloud infrastructure. This helps our consultants create clear troubleshooting zones and makes it easy for USCIS and its stakeholders to identify the accountable owners of a service or set of services. Our teams are also leveraging project management best practices across the program to help manage cost, schedule, performance, and risk.
Throughout every stage of USCIS’s enhancement effort, we’ve established and monitored business-focused service-level targets and set success benchmarks. This approach helps business and technical stakeholders at USCIS align on work prioritized by the engineering teams, and ultimately will ensure users have streamlined access to their immigration and eligibility benefits, while providing a high-quality, end-to-end digital experience.
Fostering continuous improvement
USCIS prioritizes continuous improvement and continuous delivery (CI/CD) to enhance operations. Our consultants worked with USCIS teams to establish a DevOps cultural model that instilled the DevOps principles necessary for effective and efficient system modernization into USCIS processes, tools, standards, automation, roles, and responsibilities. We integrated DevOps functions into sprints and are now working alongside stakeholders to push an average of 50 to 100 production commitments per week across the verification program for CI/CD-enabled products.
Our joint teams have put user experience and human-centered design practices at the forefront, and they’re assessing the business impact every step of the way. First, we conducted user research and story collaboration. Then we carried out user interviews to identify pain points to understand how new features would impact existing business processes. With that research in hand, we are regularly prototyping new features, revising content strategies, testing them with users, and iterating designs based on user feedback and more user research. As part of a commitment to delivering an improved interface experience, usability and accessibility stories are prioritized, built in, and accounted for as part of the sprint backlog.
Collaboration with community impact
Despite the global challenges of 2020 and 2021, Slalom and USCIS have worked in tandem, weaving innovation into each stage of the project and supporting continued transformation for USCIS in the future. And throughout the process, our metrics-driven approach to prioritizing system changes continues to measure the value of each feature and how the changes tie back to the overall vision and mission of the verification program.
Of course, enhanced internal and user-facing systems that provide streamlined access to data and information won’t only be impactful to USCIS’s employees and stakeholders. A big part of the program’s mission is focused on the people who have newly arrived in the United States. For immigrants who are eligible to receive benefits, improving the speed and accuracy of USCIS systems ultimately means less time in lines and more time spent building a new life—and a future they love—in the US.