Customs Service and INS:

Dual Management Structure for Border Inspections Should Be Ended

GGD-93-111: Published: Jun 30, 1993. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Customs Service's and the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) border crossing operations, focusing on: (1) the role of Customs and INS at border crossing points, particularly along the southwestern border, and the degree to which their responsibilities overlap; and (2) coordination efforts and alternatives for improvements.

GAO found that: (1) coordination problems persist despite interagency agreements providing for cross-designation of Customs and INS inspectors; (2) the agencies have not provided updated cross-designation training for inspectors, monitored inspectors' performance, or coordinated an approach to address staffing and traffic backups; (3) interagency rivalry is substantial at the headquarters level, which affects field relations between Customs and INS, particularly concerning drug interdiction; (4) inspectors often fail to enter data into the enforcement system's database, but supervisors cannot discipline inspectors from outside their own agency; (5) the dual management structure weakens operational accountability because no one is in charge of overall entry-port operations; (6) long-range planning is uncoordinated and performance measurement efforts are often duplicated; (7) dual operations increase operations costs; (8) options for improving operations include improving coordination within the joint-staffing framework, establishing one agency as the lead for primary inspections, and creating a border management agency by merging the INS border patrol and inspection functions with the Customs Service; and (9) Customs and immigration officials believe the three management options have insurmountable flaws and an independent immigration and customs agency should be created.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Rather than have single or centralized management of border inspections, INS and Customs have taken steps to improve coordination by jointly implementing various initiatives. These include joint performance standards, cross training, coordinated shift scheduling, and coordinated special operations.

    Recommendation: The Director, Office of Management and Budget, working with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Attorney General, should develop and present to Congress a proposal for ending the dual management of border inspections.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Rather than have single or centralized management of border inspections, INS and Customs have taken steps to improve coordination by jointly implementing various initiatives. These include joint performance standards, cross training, coordinated shift scheduling, and coordinated special operations.

    Recommendation: The Director, Office of Management and Budget, working with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Attorney General, should develop and present to Congress a proposal for ending the dual management of border inspections.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Rather than have single or centralized management of border inspections, INS and Customs have taken steps to improve coordination by jointly implementing various initiatives. These include joint performance standards, cross training, coordinated shift scheduling, and coordinated special operations.

    Recommendation: The Director, Office of Management and Budget, working with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Attorney General, should develop and present to Congress a proposal for ending the dual management of border inspections.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

 

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