Justice and Law Enforcement:

Customs' Efforts To Develop a System for Assigning Inspectors Need Top Management Support

GGD-78-48: Published: May 2, 1978. Publicly Released: May 2, 1978.


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The method the U.S. Customs Service uses to allocate inspectors to ports-of-entry has created staffing inconsistencies and the potential for their inefficient use. Although Customs has been aware of these shortcomings for many years, only recently have efforts been made to correct the problem. In August 1976, Customs established the Productivity Task Force to develop an approach to productivity management.

Despite the magnitude of its responsibilities, Customs does not have a system which provides detailed information on its inspection efforts and which relates such efforts to accomplishments, considering such factors as volume, processing complexity, enforcement risks, and facility restrictions. In addition, Customs terminology has not been standardized, thereby hindering the conversion of workload data to staffing requirements. A review of Customs operations at several locations showed no apparent correlation between the number of inspectors assigned to a port-of-entry and the workload in terms of activity levels, work complexity, or enforcement risks. Efforts to correct these problems through the Productivity Management and Improvement Program appear to be weakening, and top management support is needed if Customs is to make a more rational allocation of inspectors.

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 provide the Productivity Task Force the necessary leadership and the authority, guidance, and personnel to accomplish its objectives; monitor the progress of the Productivity Management and Improvement Program; and develop standardized Customs terminology for current and proposed information systems.

    Agency Affected:

    Status: Closed

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

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