U.S. Customs Service's Import Classification Operations:

Staffing and Workload Changes

GGD-84-59: Published: Mar 8, 1984. Publicly Released: Mar 14, 1984.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reported on certain aspects of the U.S. Customs Service's process for ensuring the accurate classification of imported products, including the number of imported goods and the staffing to process entry documentation for fiscal years 1979 through 1983.

Over the past few years, the number of formal entries of imported merchandise has increased while the backlog of entries waiting Customs' review has decreased. This has occurred despite a decrease in the number of personnel used to process entries. The decline in the backlog has been attributed to the Customs Procedural Reform and Simplification Act, which established a specific time period for Customs to liquidate an entry of merchandise. Therefore, a priority was placed on reducing the backlog of entries. Customs also implemented a manual selective entry processing system to lessen the import specialists' workload. Entries are grouped into high- or low-risk categories, and import specialists review the high-risk entries and clerical personnel process the low-risk entries. Since September 1981, the number of import specialists and customs aides has decreased because Customs has not filled vacant positions. There was little change in the number of other entry processing positions during the same time period.

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