Retirement Security:

Retirement Eligibility of Customs and INS Employees on the Southwest Border

GGD-98-70R: Published: Mar 13, 1998. Publicly Released: Mar 30, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the: (1) number of certain types of Customs Service and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) employees assigned to anti-drug smuggling activities on the Southwest Border who were eligible or who should become eligible to retire as of January 1, 1998, January 1, 1999, and January 1, 2000; and (2) plans Customs and INS have to replace their retirees.

GAO noted that: (1) as of September 30, 1997, Customs had 2,933 employees on the Southwest Border whose duties included anti-drug smuggling activities; (2) between January 1, 1998, and January 1, 2000, 279 of these employees were eligible or should become eligible to retire; (3) also as of September 30, 1997, INS had 7,983 employees assigned to the Southwest Border whose duties included anti-drug smuggling activities; (4) between January 1, 1998, and January 1, 2000, 399 of these employees were eligible or should become eligible to retire; (5) Customs and INS officials noted that not all employees will retire when they are eligible; (6) these officials stated that past experience has shown that about one-third of the Customs employees and about one-half of the INS employees who become eligible will retire during a particular fiscal year; (7) on the basis of at least 2 years of retirement data, Customs and INS officials do not expect a significant increase in the number of retirements during fiscal years 1998, 1999, and 2000; (8) in Customs and INS, retirement eligibility rates vary among occupations; (9) of the occupations GAO examined, criminal investigators have significantly higher retirement eligibility rates than other occupations; (10) canine enforcement officers have the lowest retirement eligibility rates; (11) since many canine enforcement officers have been hired during the past several years, few are eligible to retire; (12) Customs and INS have developed planning processes to replace their retiring employees; (13) using retirement data from previous years and data on the number of individuals who should become eligible to retire, Customs and INS develop projections, by occupation, of the number of employees who are expected to retire; (14) Customs and INS then develop their hiring plans on the basis of their projections; and (15) according to Customs and INS officials, in the past, they generally have been able to meet their hiring goals.

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