GAO Report – Additional Actions Needed to Strengthen Customs and Border Protection Efforts to Mitigate Risk of Employee Corruption and Misconduct
The United States Government Accountability Office report (link below) delivered to Congressional requesters is comprehensively summarized by its very title: “Additional Actions Needed to Strengthen CBP [Customs and Border Protection] Efforts to Mitigate Risk of Employee Corruption and Misconduct”
“CBP is the largest uniformed law enforcement agency in the United States, with approximately 21,400 BPAs patrolling between the nation’s ports of entry and more than 20,000 CBPOs stationed at air, land, and seaports nationwide at the end of fiscal year 2011. … The total number of CBP employees increased from 43,545 in fiscal year 2006 to 60,591 as of August 2012….
On the U.S. southwest border, there are about 5,500 CBPOs and 18,000 BPAs as of the end of fiscal year 2011. CBPOs, based within OFO, are responsible for processing immigration documentation of passengers and pedestrians and inspecting vehicles and cargo at U.S. ports of entry. BPAs are based within the USBP and are responsible for enforcing immigration laws across the territory in between the ports of entry and at checkpoints located inside the U.S. border. Together, CBPOs and BPAs are responsible for detecting and preventing the illegal entry of persons and contraband, including terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, across the border.”
The GAO report concluded that much more could be done to decrease misconduct and corruption in the agency:
“Data indicate that the overwhelming majority of CBP employees adhere to the agency’s integrity standards; however, a small minority have been convicted of engaging in corruption due, in part, to the increasing pressure from drug-trafficking and other transnational criminal organizations that are targeting CBPOs and BPAs, particularly along the southwest U.S. border. The Acting Commissioner of CBP testified that no act of corruption within the agency can or will be tolerated and that acts of corruption compromise CBP’s ability to achieve its mission to secure America’s borders against all threats while facilitating and expediting legal travel and trade. Strategic and continuous monitoring of operational vulnerabilities is important given the shifting tactics of drug-trafficking organizations seeking to infiltrate the agency. Therefore, CBP has taken steps to mitigate the risk of misconduct and corruption among incoming CBPOs and BPAs by implementing controls during the preemployment screening process. However, tracking and maintaining data on the results of its screening tools for applicants, a feasibility assessment for potential expansion of polygraph requirements, and a robust quality assurance program for background investigations and periodic reinvestigations that ensures reviews are consistently conducted and documented could better position CBP to mitigate risk of employee corruption. In addition, clear roles and responsibilities for OFO’s integrity officers developed in coordination with appropriate stakeholders such as CBP IA could help CBP ensure that the program is operating effectively. Moreover, establishing a target time frame for completing a comprehensive integrity strategy could help CBP ensure sufficient progress toward its development and implementation. In addition, completed, postcorruption analysis reports of former CBP employees who have been arrested for corruption could better position CBP to implement any lessons learned from these cases.”