Achieving Needed Organizational Change:

A Customs Service Dilemma

FPCD-78-29: Published: Mar 30, 1978. Publicly Released: Mar 30, 1978.


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The United States Customs Service is organized on four levels, or tiers--headquarters, 9 regions, 45 districts, and 303 ports. The four-tier structure stems from the Stover report, the result of a Department of the Treasury management study, which gave the impetus for the 1965-66 reorganization.

While the four-tier structure has contributed to management efficiency, the Stover report and later studies recommended a reduction in the number of regions and districts. Customs has been unwilling to make the reductions because of external opposition to consolidation. Fewer regions and districts would allow Customs to reduce overhead and reassign personnel to day-to-day operations. This could be achieved without eliminating a Customs presence at affected communities, and it would improve services.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendation for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should direct the Commissioner of Customs to: reduce the number of regions and districts in keeping with workload requirements and sound organizational principles, clarify the responsibilities of organizational levels and units, realign responsibilities for functions among and within organizational levels, and establish definitive criteria for reviewing port status and use these criteria to identify unneeded ports.

    Agency Affected:

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

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