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Testimony before the Committee on Homeland Security, House of 
Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

GAO: 

For Release on Delivery Expected at 11:00 a.m. MST: 

Saturday, December 15, 2007: 

Border Security: 

Despite Progress, Weaknesses in Traveler Inspections Exist at Our 
Nation's Ports of Entry: 

Statement of Richard M. Stana, Director Homeland Security and Justice 
Issues: 

GAO-08-329T: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-08-329T, a testimony before the Committee on Homeland 
Security, House of Representatives. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for keeping 
terrorists and other dangerous people from entering the country while 
also facilitating the cross-border movement of millions of travelers. 
CBP carries out this responsibility at 326 air, sea, and land ports of 
entry. In response to a congressional request, GAO examined CBP 
traveler inspection efforts, the progress made, and the challenges that 
remain in staffing and training at ports of entry, and the progress CBP 
has made in developing strategic plans and performance measures for its 
traveler inspection program. To conduct its work, GAO reviewed and 
analyzed CBP data and documents related to inspections, staffing, and 
training, interviewed managers and officers, observed inspections at 
eight major air and land ports of entry, and tested inspection controls 
at eight small land ports of entry. GAOs testimony is based on a 
report GAO issued November 5, 2007. 

What GAO Found: 

CBP has had some success in identifying inadmissible aliens and other 
violators, but weaknesses in its operations increase the potential that 
terrorists and inadmissible travelers could enter the country. In 
fiscal year 2006, CBP turned away over 200,000 inadmissible aliens and 
interdicted other violators. Although CBPs goal is to interdict all 
violators, CBP estimated that several thousand inadmissible aliens and 
other violators entered the country though ports of entry in fiscal 
year 2006. Weaknesses in 2006 inspection procedures, such as not 
verifying the citizenship and admissibility of each traveler, 
contribute to failed inspections. Although CBP took actions to address 
these weaknesses, subsequent follow-up work conducted by GAO months 
after CBPs actions found that weaknesses such as those described above 
still existed. In July 2007, CBP issued detailed procedures for 
conducting inspections including requiring field office managers to 
assess compliance with these procedures. However, CBP has not 
established an internal control to ensure field office managers share 
their assessments with CBP headquarters to help ensure that the new 
procedures are consistently implemented across all ports of entry and 
reduce the risk of failed traveler inspections. 

CBP developed a staffing model that estimates it needs up to several 
thousand more staff. Field office managers said that staffing shortages 
affected their ability to carry out anti-terrorism programs and created 
other vulnerabilities in the inspections process. CBP recognizes that 
officer attrition has impaired its ability to attain budgeted staffing 
levels and is in the process of developing a strategy to help curb 
attrition. CBP has made progress in developing training programs; 
however, it does not measure the extent to which it provides training 
to all who need it and whether new officers demonstrate proficiency in 
required skills. 

CBP issued a strategic plan for operations at its ports of entry and 
has collected performance data that can be used to measure its progress 
in achieving its strategic goals. However, current performance measures 
do not gauge CBP effectiveness in apprehending inadmissible aliens and 
other violators, a key strategic goal. 

Figure: 

This figure is a combination of two photographs. One shows the vehicle 
lanes at the San Ysidro port of entry and passenger lines at JFK 
International Airport. 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: GAO. 

[End of figure] 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO made recommendations aimed at enhancing internal controls in the 
inspection process, mechanisms for measuring training provided and new 
officer proficiency, and a performance measure for apprehending 
inadmissible aliens and other violators. The Department of Homeland 
Security (DHS) concurred with GAOs recommendations. DHS said that CBP 
is taking steps to address the recommendations. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
[hyperlink, http://www.GAO-08-329T]. For more information, contact 
Richard Stana at (202) 512-8777 or stanar@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Mr. Chairman and Members of the committee: 

I appreciate the opportunity to participate in today's field hearing in 
El Paso Texas, to discuss the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) 
efforts to inspect travelers at our nation's ports of entry.[Footnote 
1] My statement today is based on our November 5, 2007, report[Footnote 
2] that describes the progress made by CBP in inspecting travelers at 
air and land ports of entry and the challenges that remain.[Footnote 3] 

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)--a major component within 
DHS--is the lead federal agency in charge of inspecting travelers 
seeking to enter the United States at 326 air, land, and sea ports of 
entry. CBP officers, who number about 17,600 at these ports of entry, 
play a critical role in carrying out this responsibility. Since the 
terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, their role has involved 
increased emphasis on countering threats posed by terrorists and others 
attempting to enter the country with fraudulent or altered travel 
documents. Intelligence officials believe that the United States will 
face a persistent and evolving terrorist threat and that the terrorist 
group al Qaeda will intensify its efforts to put operatives here. 

In addition to its homeland security responsibilities, CBP is 
responsible for preventing inadmissible aliens, criminals, and 
inadmissible goods from entering the country. Doing so is a difficult 
task given the high volume of travelers and goods that enter the 
country. For example, officers frequently carry out their 
responsibilities with little time to make decisions about admitting 
individuals into the country because they also face pressure to 
facilitate the cross-border movement of millions of legitimate 
travelers and billions of dollars in international trade. 

When CBP was created in March 2003, it represented a merger of 
components from three departments--the U.S. Customs Service,[Footnote 
4] the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service,[Footnote 5] and the 
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.[Footnote 6] As part of the 
merger, CBP moved forward with an approach that was to allow a CBP 
officer, with the proper cross-training, to carry out homeland security 
as well as traditional customs and immigration responsibilities. For 
example, former customs inspectors would be trained and work on tasks 
traditionally done by immigration inspectors and vice versa. The CBP 
officer would also be capable of referring agricultural violations to 
agricultural specialists. By training officers from legacy agencies to 
perform both the customs and immigration functions, CBP aimed to have a 
well-trained and well-integrated workforce to carry out the range of 
the agency's missions. 

In July 2003, we reported on vulnerabilities and inefficiencies in 
traveler inspections.[Footnote 7] Given the critical role that CBP 
plays in homeland security, you asked us to review the progress CBP has 
made in strengthening its ability to inspect travelers arriving at the 
nation's international airports and land borders. In response, on 
November 5, 2007, we issued a report that addressed the following 
questions: 

* What success and challenges has CBP had in interdicting inadmissible 
aliens and other violators[Footnote 8] at its ports of entry? 

* What progress has CBP made in improving staffing and training at its 
ports of entry and how successful has it been in carrying out these 
workforce programs? 

* What progress and problems has CBP encountered in setting goals and 
performance measures for its traveler inspection program? 

* To address the questions above, we analyzed information and data on 
CBP's traveler inspections, staffing, and training at ports of entry. 
We reviewed CBP policies and procedures for the traveler inspection 
program as well as other documents related to traveler inspection 
efforts. We interviewed CBP officials on the status of CBP efforts to 
develop a staffing model, train staff, carry out traveler inspections, 
and develop performance measures.[Footnote 9] For information that 
would provide an overall picture of CBP's efforts, we reviewed and 
analyzed several nationwide databases, including data on staffing, 
training, attrition, resource requests from CBP's 20 field 
offices[Footnote 10] and 1 pre-clearance headquarters office, and 
apprehension of inadmissible aliens and other violators at major air 
and land ports of entry. We assessed the reliability of CBP's data from 
CBP's random selection program of travelers and staffing and training 
data by, among other things, meeting with knowledgeable officials about 
these data, reviewing relevant documentation, and performing electronic 
testing. We concluded that data from CBP databases, with the exception 
of the data on training as we discuss in our report, were sufficiently 
reliable for the purposes of our review. Although we discussed the 
staffing model and its results with CBP officials responsible for the 
model, validating the model and its results was outside the scope of 
our review. 

To supplement our analyses of CBP's nationwide data, we visited eight 
ports of entry. While we cannot generalize our work from our visits to 
all ports of entry, we chose these ports of entry to provide examples 
of operations at air and land ports of entry. At each site, we held 
discussion groups with CBP officers and met with management to discuss, 
among other things, staffing and training programs. In addition, GAO 
investigators visited other small ports of entry to test the traveler 
inspection process. Although we cannot generalize our investigators' 
work at these locations to all ports of entry, we selected these ports 
of entry to provide examples of traveler inspections. Our investigators 
did their work in accordance with quality standards for investigations 
as set forth by the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency. 
Unless we specify that the work was done by our investigators, all 
referrals to our visits to ports of entry pertain to the eight air and 
land ports of entry we visited. In addition, we analyzed the 2004 and 
2006 Office of Personnel Management Federal Human Capital Surveys of 
staff at 36 federal agencies, including the results from CBP, that 
dealt with the views of federal employees on training and staffing in 
the workplace. We reviewed standards for internal control in the 
federal government[Footnote 11] and compared the standards for 
information and communications and monitoring with CBP's policies and 
procedures for traveler inspections. Finally, we reviewed prior GAO 
reports on best practices for developing strategic plans and 
performance measures and compared the best practices with CBP's plans 
and measures for its operations at its ports of entry. We did our work 
in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards 
from August 2006 through September 2007. 

Summary: 

CBP has had some success in interdicting inadmissible aliens and other 
violators, but weaknesses in its traveler inspection procedures and 
related physical infrastructure increase the potential that dangerous 
people and illegal goods could enter the country. In 2006, CBP officers 
turned away over 200,000 aliens who attempted to enter the country 
illegally, and seized over 600,000 pounds of illegal drugs and more 
than 40,000 fraudulent documents, according to CBP. To help officers 
identify potential violators, CBP has installed additional technology 
to inspect vehicles for smuggled aliens and illicit cargo and to check 
traveler documents against law enforcement databases. While CBP has had 
some success in apprehending inadmissible aliens and other violators, 
its analyses indicate that several thousand inadmissible aliens and 
other violators entered the country at air and land ports of entry in 
fiscal year 2006.[Footnote 12] When CBP does not apprehend a 
potentially dangerous person, this increases the potential that 
national security may be compromised. Weaknesses that contributed to 
failed inspections relate both to procedures and to infrastructure: 

Weaknesses in traveler inspection procedures. In mid-2006, CBP reviewed 
videotapes from about 150 large and small ports of entry and, according 
to CBP officials, determined that while CBP officers carried out 
thorough traveler inspections in many instances, they also identified 
numerous examples where traveler inspections at land ports of entry 
were weak in that they did not determine the citizenship and 
admissibility of travelers entering the country as required by law. The 
following were examples that were on the videotape: 

* In one instance, officers waved vehicles into the United States 
without stopping the vehicle or interviewing the driver or its 
passengers as required. In another instance, motorcycles passed through 
inspection lanes without stopping and making any contact with an 
officer. In a third instance, during "lane switches" when CBP officers 
were relieved of their duty and replaced by other officers, officers 
waved traffic through the lane while the officer logged into the 
computer. The proper procedure is for traffic to be stopped until the 
officer is logged into the system and is available to perform proper 
inspections. 

* In another instance, while the CBP officer was reviewing information 
on his computer screen, he waved pedestrians through the lane without 
looking at them, making verbal contact, or inspecting travel documents. 
In another instance, travelers would simply hold up their 
identification cards and officers would view them without stepping out 
of the booth before waving the vehicle through. In these cases, the 
officers did not appear to make verbal contact with the passengers and 
did not interview any passengers sitting in the back seat of the 
vehicle. As a final example, officers did not board recreational 
vehicles to determine whether additional traveler inspections should be 
carried out. 

Without checking the identity, citizenship, and admissibility of 
travelers, there is an increased potential that dangerous people and 
inadmissible goods may enter the country and cause harm to American 
citizens and the economy. According to CBP interviews with apprehended 
alien smugglers, alien smuggling organizations have been aware of 
weaknesses in CBP's inspection procedures and they have trained 
operatives to take advantage of these weaknesses. This awareness 
heightens the potential that failed inspections will occur at ports of 
entry when such procedural weaknesses exist. 

According to CBP senior management, the factors that may have 
contributed to these weaknesses included the following: 

* Failure to engage, lack of focus, and complacency. According to CBP 
senior management, emphasis is not being placed on all missions, and 
there is a failure by some of its officers to recognize the threat 
associated with dangerous people and goods entering the country. 

* Insufficient staffing. According to CBP senior management, they are 
unable to staff ports of entry to sufficiently accommodate the 
workload. Lack of sufficient staff contributes to officers working 
double shifts, sometimes resulting in fatigue that can affect 
decisions.[Footnote 13] 

* Lack of supervisory presence in primary inspections. CBP senior 
management noted that lack of supervisory presence at primary 
inspection booths can contribute to less than optimal inspections. 

* Lack of training. CBP senior management acknowledged that, in some 
cases, periodic and on-the-job training is not being delivered. 

In the summer of 2006, CBP management took actions to place greater 
management emphasis on traveler inspections by holding meetings with 
senior management to reinforce the importance of carrying out effective 
inspections and by providing training to all supervisors and officers 
on the importance of interviewing travelers, checking travel documents, 
and having adequate supervisory presence. However, tests our 
investigators conducted in October 2006 and January 2007--as many as 5 
months after CBP issued management guidance and conducted the training-
-showed similar weaknesses as those on the videotape were still 
occurring in traveler inspections at ports of entry. At two ports, our 
investigators were not asked to provide a travel document to verify 
their identity--a procedure that management had called on officers to 
carry out--as part of the inspection. The extent of continued 
noncompliance is unknown, but these results point to the challenge CBP 
management faces in ensuring its directives are carried out. Standards 
for internal control in the federal government require that information 
should be communicated to agency management to enable it to carry out 
its program responsibilities. In July 2007, CBP issued new internal 
policies and procedures for agency officials responsible for its 
traveler inspection program at land ports of entry. The new policies 
and procedures require field office managers to conduct periodic audits 
and assessments to ensure compliance with the new inspection 
procedures. However, they do not call on managers to share the results 
of their assessments with headquarters management. Without this 
communication, CBP management may be hindering its ability to 
efficiently use the information to overcome weaknesses in traveler 
inspections. 

Weaknesses in physical infrastructure. While we cannot generalize our 
findings, at several land ports of entry of entry that we examined, 
barriers designed to ensure that vehicles pass through a CBP inspection 
booth were not in place, increasing the risk that vehicles could enter 
the country without inspection.[Footnote 14] CBP recognizes that it has 
infrastructure weaknesses and has estimated it needs about $4 billion 
to make the capital improvements needed at all 163 of the nation's land 
crossings. CBP has prioritized the ports with the greatest need. Each 
year, depending upon funding availability, CBP submits its proposed 
capital improvement projects based upon the prioritized list it has 
developed. Several factors affect CBP's ability to make improvements, 
including the fact that some ports of entry are owned by other 
governmental or private entities, potentially adding to the time needed 
to agree on infrastructure changes and put them in place. For example, 
according to CBP officials, for 96 ports of entry that are owned by the 
General Services Administration (GSA), GSA approves and prioritizes 
capital improvement projects. The process of submitting a request for 
an infrastructure improvement and completion of the project is 
approximately 7 years from start to finish, according to a GSA 
official. For 23 ports of entry that are privately owned and leased by 
GSA,[Footnote 15] CBP officials noted that coordinating with privately- 
owned companies on infrastructure improvements is a difficult process 
because the private owner's interest in facilitating commerce must be 
balanced with CBP's interest in national security. As of September 
2007, CBP had infrastructure projects related to 20 different ports of 
entry in various stages of development. 

As previously mentioned, insufficient staffing and lack of training can 
contribute to a greater likelihood of failed traveler inspections. CBP 
has taken action to improve staffing and training at ports of entry by 
assessing staffing needs, adding more officers since 2005 in response 
to higher budgeted staffing levels, and developing an extensive 
training program, but it lacks (1) data to measure progress on 
providing required training and (2) certain elements in its on-the-job 
training program for new CBP officers, which limits its ability to 
effectively train and evaluate the performance of new officers. 
According to managers at ports of entry, staffing shortages can result 
in, among other things, officer fatigue that can affect the quality of 
traveler inspections. Untrained or poorly trained officers can increase 
the probability that terrorists, inadmissible aliens, and illicit goods 
will enter the country. Progress and problems with staffing and 
training involved the following: 

Progress and problems with staffing. Responding to language in a 
conference report for its fiscal year 2007 appropriation, CBP has 
developed a staffing model to estimate staffing needs. The model is 
based on several assumptions, such as whether overtime is considered as 
part of CBP's staffing at ports of entry. CBP's model estimates that 
CBP may need up to several thousand more officers and agricultural 
specialists[Footnote 16] to operate its ports of entry.[Footnote 17] 
According to field officials, lack of staff is affecting their ability 
to carry out border security responsibilities. For example, we examined 
requests for resources from CBP's 20 field offices and its preclearance 
headquarters office for January 2007 and found that managers at 19 of 
the 21 offices cited examples of anti-terrorism activities not being 
carried out, new or expanded facilities that were not fully 
operational, and radiation monitors and other inspection technologies 
not being fully used because of staff shortages. At seven of the eight 
major ports we visited, officers and managers told us that not having 
sufficient staff contributes to morale problems, fatigue, lack of 
backup support, and safety issues when officers inspect travelers-- 
increasing the potential that terrorists, inadmissible travelers, and 
illicit goods could enter the country. In addition, officers at six of 
the eight ports of entry we visited indicated that officer fatigue 
caused by excessive overtime negatively affected inspections at their 
ports of entry. On occasion, officers said they are called upon to work 
16-hour shifts, spending long stints in the primary passenger 
processing lanes to keep lanes open, in part to minimize traveler wait 
times.[Footnote 18] Further evidence of fatigue came from officers who 
said that CBP officers call in sick due to exhaustion, in part to avoid 
mandatory overtime, which in turn exacerbates the staffing challenges 
faced by the ports. 

Reported staffing shortages are exacerbated by challenges in retaining 
staff, contributing to an increasing number of vacant positions 
nationwide.[Footnote 19] CBP officials attribute attrition to 
retirements, officers receiving better law enforcement benefits at 
other DHS components and other federal agencies, and new officers being 
unable to afford high cost-of-living locations. Low job satisfaction, 
as reflected in the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) Federal 
Human Capital Survey, is also a contributing factor to attrition, 
according to CBP. CBP recognized that it has a problem with retaining 
staff and plans to develop ways to stem its problems in this area. For 
example, CBP plans to analyze attrition data and data from OPM's Human 
Capital Survey and employee satisfaction and exit surveys in order to 
help identify what actions are needed to curb attrition. CBP plans to 
develop some initial retention strategies by December 2008 and by 
September 2009 develop approaches to retain staff based on areas of 
concern identified in the employee exit survey. 

Progress and problems with training. CBP has developed 37 courses on 
such topics as how to carry out inspections and detect fraudulent 
documents and has instituted national guidelines for a 12-week on-the- 
job training program that new officers should receive at land ports of 
entry. However, CBP faces challenges in providing the required 
training. Managers at seven of the eight ports of entry we visited said 
that they were challenged in putting staff through training because 
staffing shortfalls force the ports to choose between performing port 
operations and providing training. For example, at one land port of 
entry we visited, managers stated that courses are scheduled, but then 
canceled because of staffing concerns. 

Managers and supervisors at six of eight ports of entry we visited told 
us that vulnerabilities in traveler inspections occurred when officers 
did not receive cross-training before rotating to new inspection areas. 
Although CBP's training policy calls for no officer to be placed in an 
area without receiving the proper cross-training module, officers and 
supervisors at ports of entry we visited told us that officers were 
placed in situations for which they had not been trained. While we 
cannot determine the degree to which this is happening in other ports 
of entry cross the country, we identified several examples where this 
policy is not being followed at the ports of entry we visited. For 
example, legacy customs officers at one port of entry reported feeling 
ill prepared when called upon to inspect passengers because they had 
not received the requisite training. One supervisor at this port of 
entry stated that he had "no confidence" that the officers he 
supervised could process the casework for a marijuana seizure correctly 
to successfully prosecute the violator because they had not received 
training. Supervisors at another port of entry told us that they were 
rotated to areas in which they had not received training. With 
responsibility over admissibility decisions, these supervisors were 
concerned that they could not answer questions from their subordinates 
or make necessary determinations beyond their area of expertise. As a 
result of not being trained, officers at this port stated that they 
relied heavily on senior officers from legacy agencies. The officers 
also told us that these senior officers have been leaving the agency. 
CBP managers in headquarters recognize that insufficient training can 
lead to a higher risk of failed inspections. For example, in a 
presentation that was given to all field office directors, CBP 
headquarters officials stated that untrained officers increase the risk 
that terrorists, inadmissible travelers, and illicit goods could enter 
the country. 

Standards for internal control in the federal government provide a 
framework for agencies to achieve effective and efficient operations 
and ultimately to improve accountability. One of the standards calls on 
agencies to compare actual performance to planned or expected results 
throughout the organization and to analyze significant differences. 
However, CBP lacks data that show whether the individuals who require 
training are receiving it. Having reliable data to measure the degree 
to which training has been delivered would put CBP management in a 
position to better gauge the results of its cross-training program. In 
regards to on-the-job training, while CBP guidance states that new 
officers at land ports of entry should receive 12 weeks of on-the-job 
training, new officers at the ports we visited did not receive 12 weeks 
of training. For example, at one port of entry, new officers told us 
they received between 2 weeks and 6 weeks of on-the-job training. In 
addition, internal control standards related to management of human 
capital state that management should ensure that the organization has a 
workforce that has the required skills necessary to achieve 
organizational goals. CBP's guidance for its on-the-job training 
program does not require that new CBP officers perform certain tasks in 
order to develop needed skills or that the officers demonstrate 
proficiency in specific tasks. In contrast, the U.S. Border Patrol, 
another office within CBP, has developed a field training program where 
officers are required to demonstrate proficiency in 32 different 
skills. We discussed the utility of the Border Patrol's on-the-job 
training standards with CBP officials who told us that they might 
examine the Border Patrol's program to identify best practices that 
they could incorporate into the on-the-job training program for new CBP 
officers. When staff do not receive required training or are not 
trained consistently with program guidance, it limits knowledge 
building and increases the risk that needed expertise is not developed. 

Our analysis of OPM's 2006 Federal Human Capital Survey shows that CBP 
staff expressed concern about training. Our analysis shows that less 
than half of nonsupervisory CBP staff were satisfied with how CBP 
assesses their training needs (43 percent), the extent to which 
supervisors support employee development (43 percent), and the degree 
to which supervisors provide constructive feedback on how to improve 
(42 percent). In responding to these three questions, a significantly 
lower percentage of nonsupervisory staff at CBP was satisfied with 
their training experiences than nonsupervisory staff in other federal 
agencies. 

CBP has developed strategic goals that call for, among other things, 
establishing ports of entry where threats are deterred and inadmissible 
people and goods are intercepted--a key goal related to traveler 
inspections--but it faces challenges in developing a performance 
measure that tracks progress in achieving this goal. Linking 
performance to strategic goals and objectives and publicly reporting 
this information is important so that Congress and the public have 
better information about agency performance and to help to ensure 
accountability. While CBP's 2006 Performance and Accountability Report 
included some performance measures related to CBP's goal of 
intercepting inadmissible people and goods, the report did not include 
a performance measure regarding how effective CBP is at achieving this 
goal at ports of entry. CBP has data on the degree to which it 
interdicts travelers who seek to enter the country illegally or who 
violate other laws at major air and land ports of entry. During the 
course of our review, we discussed with CBP officials the potential of 
using these data as one way of measuring the effectiveness of CBP 
inspection efforts. In June 2007, CBP officials told us that CBP was in 
the process of selecting performance measures for fiscal year 2008 and 
a decision had not yet been made on whether to include these data or 
other similar outcome-based measures in its performance report. 

Concluding Remarks: 

Effective inspection of the millions of travelers entering the country 
each year is critical to the security of the United States. As CBP 
matures as an organization, having effective inspection procedures, 
retaining its officer corps, and developing the necessary skills in its 
officer corps are essential given the critical role that CBP plays in 
national security. Although CBP developed new inspection procedures 
that require CBP field office directors to monitor and assess 
compliance with the new procedures, a key internal control requiring 
field office directors to communicate with CBP management the results 
of their monitoring and assessment efforts is not in place. As a 
result, CBP management may not get information that would identify 
weaknesses in the traveler inspections process that need to be 
addressed. The initial set of actions that CBP has taken for dealing 
with challenges in training at ports of entry is a positive start, but 
it has not established a mechanism to know whether officers who need 
specific cross-training have received it and whether new CBP officers 
have experience in the necessary job tasks and are proficient in them. 
This means that some officers may be called on to perform certain 
inspection tasks without having the knowledge and skills to do them. 

It is also important to have performance measures in place to permit 
agency management to gauge progress in achieving program goals and, if 
not, to take corrective action. In regard to traveler inspections, CBP 
is missing an important performance measure that shows what results are 
achieved in apprehending inadmissible aliens and other violators. CBP 
has apprehension rate data that could be used to develop such a 
performance measure. Having performance measures related to the 
effectiveness of CBP interdiction efforts would help inform Congress 
and agency management of improvements resulting from changes in CBP's 
traveler inspection program and what gaps in coverage, if any, remain. 

In our report,[Footnote 20] we made a number of recommendations to 
mitigate the risk of failed traveler inspections. We recommended that 
the Secretary of Homeland Security direct the Commissioner of Customs 
and Border Protection to take the following four actions: 

* implement internal controls to help ensure that field office 
directors communicate to agency management the results of their 
monitoring and assessment efforts so that agencywide results can be 
analyzed and necessary actions taken to ensure that new traveler 
inspection procedures are carried out in a consistent way across all 
ports of entry; 

* develop data on cross-training programs that measure whether the 
individuals who require training are receiving it so that agency 
management is in a better position to measure progress toward achieving 
training goals; 

* incorporate into CBP's procedures for its on-the-job training program 
(1) specific tasks that CBP officers must experience during on-the-job 
training and (2) requirements for measuring officer proficiency in 
performing those tasks; and: 

* formalize a performance measure for the traveler inspection program 
that identifies CBP's effectiveness in apprehending inadmissible aliens 
and other violators. 

DHS said it agreed with our recommendations and discussed actions CBP 
has underway or has taken to address our recommendations. 

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement. I would be happy to 
answer any questions that you and the Members of the committee may 
have. 

GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

For further information about this statement, please contact Richard M. 
Stana, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues, on (202) 512- 
8777 or at stanar@gao.gov. 

Major contributors to this testimony included Mike Dino, Assistant 
Director; Neil Asaba; Frances Cook; Josh Diosomito; Kasea Hamar; Chris 
Leach; Michael Meleady; Ron La Due Lake; and Stan Stenersen. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] Ports of entry are government-designated locations where CBP 
inspects persons and goods to determine whether they may be lawfully 
admitted into the country. A land port of entry may have more than one 
border crossing point where CBP inspects travelers for admissibility 
into the United States. 

[2] See GAO, Border Security: Despite Progress, Weaknesses in Traveler 
Inspections Exist at Our Nation's Ports of Entry, GAO-08-219 
(Washington D.C.: Nov. 5, 2007). 

[3] Our November 2007 report (GAO-08-219) is the public version of a 
For Official Use Only report that we issued on October 5, 2007. This 
report contained sensitive information about CBP traveler inspection 
efforts, including information on the techniques used to carry out 
inspections, data on the number of inadmissible aliens and other 
violators that enter the country each year, and data on staffing at 
ports of entry. See GAO, Border Security: Despite Progress, Weaknesses 
in Traveler Inspections Exist at Our Nation's Ports of Entry, GAO-08-
123SU (Washington D.C.: Oct. 5, 2007). 

[4] U.S. Customs Service was in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. 
Customs inspectors were primarily responsible for inspecting cargo and 
goods. 

[5] U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service was in the Department 
of Justice. Immigration inspectors were responsible for processing 
people traveling across the border. 

[6] Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service was in the Department of 
Agriculture. Unlike the Customs Service and the Immigration and 
Naturalization Service, which were moved to DHS in its entirety, Animal 
and Plant Health Inspection Service continues to exist within the 
Department of Agriculture and retains responsibility for conducting, 
among other things, veterinary inspections of live imported animals, 
establishing policy for inspections and quarantines, and providing risk 
analysis. 

[7] See GAO, Land Ports of Entry: Vulnerabilities and Inefficiencies in 
the Inspections Process, GAO-03-782 (Washington, D.C.: July 2003). 

[8] Other violators include individuals seeking to enter the country 
who are not in compliance with the laws and regulations for entry, 
including immigration, customs, and agricultural requirements. 

[9] Our work on training focused on the training provided at ports of 
entry and did not include basic training given to CBP officers at the 
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. We also did not examine the 
role of agricultural specialists in CBP because we issued a report on 
agricultural inspections at ports of entry last year. See GAO, Homeland 
Security: Management and Coordination Problems Increase the 
Vulnerability of U.S. Agriculture to Foreign Pests and Disease, GAO-06-
644 (Washington D.C.: May 19, 2006). 

[10] BP's 20 field offices are responsible for managing more than 300 
ports of entry. 

[11] GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, 
GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1 (Washington, D.C.: November 1999). 

[12] We did not include data on the rate at which CBP apprehends 
inadmissible aliens and other violators who seek to enter the country 
because the data are considered sensitive. 

[13] Staffing and training issues are discussed in more detail later in 
this testimony. 

[14] The locations and a description of weaknesses in physical 
infrastructure are considered sensitive information and therefore are 
not included in this testimony. 

[15] Examples of privately-owned ports of entry that are leased to GSA 
include the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, New York, and the Windsor 
Tunnel in Detroit, Michigan. 

[16] The agricultural specialist is a technical, scientific position 
rather than a law enforcement position with an emphasis on detecting 
and preventing the importation of harmful agricultural pests and 
diseases. The agricultural specialist is responsible for conducting 
agriculture inspections of passengers and cargo as well as analysis of 
agriculture imports. Additionally, agricultural specialists are not 
authorized to carry firearms, and therefore, they cannot staff primary 
inspection lanes. However, they may provide backup support to CBP 
officers during secondary screening. 

[17] CBP has determined that data from the staffing model is law 
enforcement sensitive. Therefore, we are not providing more detailed 
data and information from the model in this testimony. 

[18] Specific concerns from CBP officials of how officer fatigue 
affects primary inspections are not included in this testimony because 
the information is considered sensitive. 

[19] Specific data on CBP's budgeted staffing level and the number of 
officers onboard are not included in this testimony because CBP 
considers the data sensitive. 

[20] See GAO-08-219. 

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