Border Security



GAO: Actions Needed to Enhance CBP's Maintenance of Roads Used for Its Operations

October 2017

U.S. Border Patrol, within the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), generally has access to public roads and has certain processes and authorities to use other federal, state, local, tribal, and private owned roads for its operations. CBP may enter into arrangements or agreements to address maintenance of certain federal, state, local, and private roads, but CBP has not consistently documented these arrangements, or shared them with all relevant Border Patrol sector officials. This could hinder maintenance efforts and, therefore, Border Patrol's access to the roads. Report


DHS OIG: Challenges Facing DHS in Its Attempt to Hire 15,000 Border Patrol Agents and Immigration Officers 

July 2017

The Department, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are facing significant challenges in identifying, recruiting, hiring, and fielding the number of law enforcement officers mandated in the Executive Orders. Neither CBP nor ICE could provide complete data to support the operational need or deployment strategies for the additional 15,000 additional agents and officers they were directed to hire. Although DHS has established plans and initiated actions to begin an aggressive hiring surge, in recent years the Department and its components have encountered notable difficulties related to long hire times, proper allocation of staff, and the supply of human resources.

Proper workforce planning is needed to ensure correct staffing levels, ratios, and placements, and to guide targeted recruitment campaigns. Conversely, inadequate workforce planning will likely undermine the ability of CBP and ICE to achieve hiring mandates and perform mission essential duties and functions. Report


DHS OIG: Special Report: Lessons Learned from Prior Reports on CBP's SBI and Acquisitions Related to Securing our Border  

June 2017

Prior reports (see Appendix A) found that CBP did not have defined and validated operational requirements resulting in unachievable performance. CBP also lacked a proper acquisition workforce that resulted in missteps, waste, and delays. In addition, CBP did not have robust business processes and information systems needed to enable program offices to move forward expeditiously on the tasks of managing to program objectives.

Although DHS has made much progress, it needs to continue toward a strong central authority and uniform policies and procedures. Most of DHS’s major acquisition programs continue to cost more than expected, take longer to deploy than planned, or deliver less capability than promised. Report


GAO: CBP: Improved Planning Needed to Strengthen Trade Enforcement

June 2017

CBP conducts trade enforcement across seven high-risk issue areas using a risk-based approach, but its plans generally lack performance targets that would enable it to assess the effectiveness of its enforcement activities. Violations in the high-risk issue areas can cause significant revenue loss, harm the U.S. economy, or threaten the health and safety of the American people. CBP's trade enforcement activities reduce risk of noncompliance and focus efforts on high-risk imports, according to CBP. For example, CBP conducts targeting of goods, conducts audits and verifications of importers, seizes prohibited goods, collects duties, and assesses penalties. However, CBP cannot assess the effectiveness of its activities without developing performance targets as suggested by leading practices for managing for results.

Over the past 5 fiscal years, CBP generally has not met the minimum staffing levels set by Congress for four of nine positions that perform customs revenue functions, and it generally has not met the optimal staffing level targets identified by the agency for these positions. Staffing shortfalls can impact CBP's ability to enforce trade effectively, for example, by leading to reduced compliance audits and decreased cargo inspections, according to CBP officials. CBP cited several challenges to filling staffing gaps, including that hiring for trade positions is not an agency-wide priority. Contrary to leading practices in human capital management, CBP has not articulated how it plans to reach its staffing targets for trade positions over the long term, generally conducting its hiring on an ad hoc basis. Report


DHS OIG: CBP's Border Security Efforts - An Analysis of Southwest Border Security Between Ports of Entry

February 2017

In 1993, Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) published a study on the state of the security along the United States/Mexico border. In the study, Sandia identified measures and made recommendations designed to increase border security and to gain control of areas of rampant illegal immigration and drug trafficking. 

OIG concluded that CBP likely did not act in direct response to the Sandia report, but it has instituted many border security programs and operations that align with the report’s recommendations. However, OIG's review and analysis of these reports also highlighted some continuing challenges to CBP in its efforts to secure the southwest border.

In particular, CBP does not measure the effectiveness of its programs and operations well; therefore, it continues to invest in programs and act without the benefit of the feedback needed to help ensure it uses resources wisely and improves border security. CBP also faces program management challenges in planning, resource allocation, infrastructure and technology acquisition, and overall efficiency. Report




DHS OIG: CBP Needs Better Data to Justify Its Criminal Investigator Staffing 

April 2016

From October 1, 2010, through March 12, 2015, CBP received 11,367 allegations of misconduct by its employees. IA investigated 6,524 of those allegations, of which 819 were classified as criminal.

IA performed this audit to determine whether CBP has an effective process to identify the required number of criminal investigators needed to accomplish its mission in an efficient and cost-effective manner. 

In January 2015, CBP converted 183 of its 212 investigative program specialists to new criminal investigative positions without determining the appropriate number of investigators needed to effectively and efficiently accomplish its mission. 

Without a comprehensive process and analysis to determine the appropriate number of criminal investigators, CBP may have improperly spent the approximately $3.1 million it paid for criminal investigators’ premium pay in fiscal year 2015. Furthermore, if CBP does not make any changes to the number of criminal investigator positions, we estimate that it will cost as much as $22.6 million over 5 years for premium Law Enforcement Availability Pay. Report

Media Coverage

Government Executive: Is DHS Wasting Millions Paying Investigators It Doesn’t Need?