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    Subject Term: "Border patrols"

    8 publications with a total of 36 open recommendations
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve its efforts to coordinate Predator B operations among supported agencies and assess the effectiveness of its Predator B and tactical aerostat programs, the Commissioner of CBP should develop and document procedures for Predator B coordination among supported agencies in all operating locations.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve its efforts to coordinate Predator B operations among supported agencies and assess the effectiveness of its Predator B and tactical aerostat programs, the Commissioner of CBP should update and maintain guidance for recording Predator B mission information in its data collection system.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve its efforts to coordinate Predator B operations among supported agencies and assess the effectiveness of its Predator B and tactical aerostat programs, the Commissioner of CBP should provide training to users of CBP's data collection system for Predator B missions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve its efforts to coordinate Predator B operations among supported agencies and assess the effectiveness of its Predator B and tactical aerostat programs, the Commissioner of CBP should record air support forms for Predator B mission requests from non-CBP law enforcement agencies in its data collection system for Predator B missions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve its efforts to coordinate Predator B operations among supported agencies and assess the effectiveness of its Predator B and tactical aerostat programs, the Commissioner of CBP should update Border Patrol's data collection practices to include a mechanism to distinguish and track asset assists associated with TARS from tactical aerostats.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the monitoring of holding facilities, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct Border Patrol and ICE to develop and implement a process to assess their time in custody data for all individuals in holding facilities, including: (1) identifying and addressing potential data quality issues; and (2) identifying cases where time in custody exceeded guidelines and assessing the factors impacting time in custody.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen the transparency of the complaints process, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct CBP and ICE to develop and issue guidance on how and which complaint mechanisms should be communicated to individuals in custody at holding facilities.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To facilitate the tracking of holding facility complaints, the Secretary of Homeland Security should include a classification code in all complaint tracking systems related to DHS holding facilities.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To provide useful information for compliance monitoring, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct CBP and ICE to develop and implement a process for analyzing trends related to holding facility complaints across their respective component.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    9 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DHS complies with TVPRA requirements for training, screening, and transferring UAC to HHS, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to develop and implement TVPRA training for OFO officers at airports who have substantive contact with UAC.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Office of Field Operations (OFO) within U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in collaboration with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, conducted a "Train-the-Trainer" conference in August 2015 that focused on juvenile and unaccompanied alien children (UAC). The conference, among other things, addressed screening requirements for UAC consistent with Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA). CBP officers who received this additional training were then responsible for training other officers who process UAC at the ports of entry. According to CBP, while the conference was comprehensive, it did not fully encompass CBP's needs. In June 2016, CBP reported that OFO, Office of Chief Counsel, and a headquarters-level working group on UAC issues are finalizing a revised Form CBP-93 and with that are developing a detailed, relevant Train-the-Trainer course for officers responsible for TVPRA at all CBP ports of entry. In December 2016, CBP notified GAO that OFO, in coordination with CBP's Office of Training and Development, was concluding the design and embarking on the development phase of a distance learning course, tentatively entitled "Processing, Holding, and Transfer of Unaccompanied Alien Children by CBP." This course will be an annual requirement for all OFO officers. In April 2017, CBP reported that OFO was no longer pursuing a separate Train-the-Trainer course for CBP officers at air ports of entry. However, CBP continues to develop a new UAC training course. The new course is a collaborative effort between OFO and USBP, in consultation with CBP's Office of Chief Counsel, and in partnership with CBP's Office of Training and Development (OTD) to develop, deconflict, and revise training consistent with requirements under TVPRA, specifically outlining rules to identify and screen UAC, among other things. As of September 2017, CBP estimates that they will finalize the training module by June 2018. To fully address this recommendation, CBP needs to ensure that OFO officers at airports who have substantive contact with UAC complete this training.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DHS complies with TVPRA requirements for training, screening, and transferring UAC to HHS, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to revise the Form 93 to include indicators or questions that agents and officers should ask UAC to better assess (1) a child's ability to make an independent decision to withdraw his or her application for admission to the United States and (2) credible evidence of the child's risk of being trafficked if returned to his or her country of nationality or last habitual residence.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2015, CBP officials stated that CBP formed a working group in headquarters with representatives from the department's Office of Policy and Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to examine the screening process for UAC. In addition, CBP officials noted that CBP is in the process of convening a similar group in the field. According to CBP officials, the working group meets weekly and is coordinating with nongovernmental organizations and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, among others. As of June 30, 2016, CBP reported that CBP's Office of Field Operations (OFO) and U.S. Border Patrol (BP) have finalized and routed the Form CBP-93 to the OFO Executive Assistant Commissioner and United States Border Patrol Chief for final approval. As of June 2017, the revised CBP Form 93 is still under review and CBP officials estimate that the review process will be completed by December 31, 2017. To fully address this recommendation, CBP should revise the Form 93 to include indicators or questions that CBP officers and Border Patrol agents should ask UAC relative to their ability to make an independent decision and regarding the potential risk of the UAC being trafficked if returned to their country of nationality or last habitual residence.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DHS complies with TVPRA requirements for training, screening, and transferring UAC to HHS, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to provide guidance to Border Patrol agents and OFO officers that clarifies how they are to implement the TVPRA requirement to transfer to HHS all Mexican UAC who have fear of returning to Mexico owing to a credible fear of persecution.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on a draft of our report, DHS indicated that CBP's U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) and Office of Field Operations (OFO) would issue further guidance to agents and officers emphasizing TVPRA transfer procedures for UAC who are nationals or habitual residents of Canada or Mexico and who are victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons. In September 2015, CBP reported that USBP and OFO estimated implementing this additional guidance by the end of calendar year 2015. In January 2016, CBP reported to GAO that, since June 2015, a headquarters level working group had been reviewing CBP's screening process for UAC. According to CBP officials, the activities of this working group will influence the guidance that will be deployed to Border Patrol agents and OFO officers and that USBP and OFO will be working together to develop additional guidance to the field by September 2016. In December 2016, CBP notified GAO that Border Patrol and OFO have partnered with CBP's Office of Training and Development, as well as the Office of Chief Counsel, to develop a distance learning course, tentatively entitled "Processing, Holding, and Transfer of Unaccompanied Alien Children by CBP." According to CBP, this course will be an annual requirement for all CBP agents and officers. As of September 2017, CBP estimates that they will finalize the training module by June 2018. To fully address this recommendation, CBP should ensure that this distance learning training module on how to implement the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA) criteria is developed and implemented, as required by CBP policy, to all Border Patrol agents and OFO officers.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DHS complies with TVPRA requirements for training, screening, and transferring UAC to HHS, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to develop and implement guidance on how Border Patrol agents and OFO officers are to implement the TVPRA requirement to transfer to HHS all Canadian and Mexican UAC who are victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on a draft of our report, DHS indicated that CBP's U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) and Office of Field Operations (OFO) would issue further guidance to agents and officers emphasizing TVPRA transfer procedures for UAC who are nationals or habitual residents of Canada or Mexico and who are victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons. In September 2015, CBP reported that USBP and OFO estimated implementing this additional guidance by the end of calendar year 2015. In January 2016, CBP reported to GAO that, since June 2015, a headquarters level working group has been reviewing CBP's screening process for UAC. According to CBP officials, the activities of this working group will influence the guidance that will be deployed to Border Patrol agents and OFO officers and that USBP and OFO will be working together to develop additional guidance to the field by September 2016. In December 2016, CBP notified GAO that Border Patrol and OFO have partnered with CBP's Office of Training and Development as well as the Office of Chief Counsel to develop a distance learning course, tentatively entitled "Processing, Holding, and Transfer of Unaccompanied Alien Children by CBP." According to CBP, this course will be an annual requirement for all CBP agents and officers. As of September 2017, CBP estimates that they will finalize the training module by June 2018. To fully address this recommendation, CBP should ensure that this distance learning training module on how to implement the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA) criteria is developed and implemented, as required by CBP policy, to all Border Patrol agents and OFO officers.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DHS complies with TVPRA requirements for training, screening, and transferring UAC to HHS, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to ensure that Border Patrol agents document the basis for their decisions when assessing screening criteria related to (1) an unaccompanied alien child's ability to make an independent decision to withdraw his or her application for admission to the United States, and (2) whether UAC are victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2015, CBP officials reported that an internal working group charged with assessing UAC screening procedures was considering issues related to independent decision-making and appropriate documentation as it develops a revised screening tool. As of June 30, 2016, CBP reported that CBP's Office of Field Operations (OFO) and U.S. Border Patrol (BP) had finalized and routed a revised CBP Form 93 to the OFO Executive Assistant Commissioner and United States Border Patrol Chief for final approval. As of August 31, 2016, the revised CBP Form 93 was still under review and CBP officials estimated that the review process would be completed by December 31, 2016. In January 2017, CBP notified GAO that the expected completion date for the revised form is April 2017, and that direction to Border Patrol agents on the new form would be delivered by June 2017. In June 2017, CBP told GAO that Border Patrol and other CBP partners were continuing to determine which changes are necessary to the CBP Form 93 and estimated that these efforts would not be completed until December 31, 2017. As of September 2017, CBP reported that these efforts would not be completed until June 2018. To fully address this recommendation, CBP should ensure that Border Patrol agents document the basis for their decisions when assessing screening criteria related to (1) an unaccompanied alien child's ability to make an independent decision to withdraw his or her application for admission to the United States, and (2) whether UAC are victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DHS complies with TVPRA requirements for training, screening, and transferring UAC to HHS, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to determine which agents and officers who have substantive contact with UAC, complete the annual UAC training, and ensure that they do so, as required.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: On July 1, 2015, the Assistant Commissioner for Field Operations (OFO) disseminated a memorandum to all OFO Field Office Directors regarding the mandatory annual UAC training requirement. The Assistant Commissioner directed all Field Offices to ensure that officers completed the required training by December 31, 2015 (the memo also specified which officers are required to complete the training). On July 31, 2015, the Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol disseminated a memorandum to all Chief Patrol Agents and Directorate Chiefs for dissemination to all uniformed personnel, including supervisors, regarding the mandatory annual UAC training requirement. CBP documentation indicates that CBP implemented a new learning management system mandated by DHS on July 13, 2015, through which online training courses are offered to all CBP employees. Further, in 2016 DHS added a feature to this system that provided the capability to produce reports on courses completed by CBP employees. In April 2017, CBP provided 2016 data on the OFO officers and Border Patrol agents that had completed the required UAC training course. According to the data, 23 percent of OFO officers and 7 percent of Border Patrol agents required to complete the training had not done so. CBP officials stated that they plan to take steps to increase the percent of agents and officers who complete the required training in 2017 and will provide new data to GAO in early 2018. To fully address this recommendation, Border Patrol and OFO should ensure that all required personnel have completed the annual training, as required.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DHS has complete and reliable data needed to ensure compliance with the UAC time-in-custody requirement under TVPRA and for required reports on UAC time in custody under the Flores Agreement, the Secretary of Homeland Security should require ICE officers to record accurate and reliable data in their automated system when UAC leave ICE custody in order to track the length of time UAC are in ICE custody.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a July 23, 2015 memo, ICE's Assistant Director for Custody Management, with concurrence from the Acting Assistant Director for Field Operations, provided instructions to all ICE Field Office Directors, Deputy Field Office Directors, and Field Office Juvenile Coordinators (FOJCs) with instructions for processing juveniles, including unaccompanied alien children (UAC). The memo stated that FOJCs or assigned officers must immediately book UAC into ICE's automated system upon the UAC's transfer into ICE's custody (including ICE transportation contractors). The instructions state that no more than 4 hours may elapse without recording the UAC's time in ICE custody. Further, the instructions stated that when ICE transfers UAC to a new location, that FOJCs, or other assigned officers, must also ensure that ICE's automated system is updated to reflect the exact location of the transfer. According to ICE, these instructions are to be included in a juvenile processing handbook that will provide detailed instructions for officers in processing and managing juvenile cases. ICE expects to complete this handbook by June 30, 2016. As of October 2016, the handbook was still being cleared within ICE. To fully implement our recommendation, ICE should require that officers record accurate and reliable data (date and time) in their automated system when UAC leave ICE custody.
    Recommendation: To increase the efficiency and improve the accuracy of the interagency UAC referral and placement process, the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services should jointly develop and implement a documented interagency process with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, as well as procedures to disseminate placement decisions, for all agencies involved in the referral and placement of UAC in HHS shelters.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2015, DHS stated that the department was collaborating with HHS on finalizing a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) regarding UAC procedures. According to DHS, the MOA is meant to provide a framework for interagency coordination on the responsibilities of the parties in coordinating and establishing procedures, shared goals, and interagency cooperation with respect to UAC. In February 2016, DHS and HHS finalized the MOA. The MOA states that DHS and HHS agree to establish a Joint Concept of Operations (JCO) that should be completed no later than one year following the signing of the MOA. According to the MOA, the JCO should include, among other things, standard protocols for consistent interagency cooperation on the care, processing, and transport of UAC during both steady state operations, as well as in the event the number of UAC exceeds the standard capabilities of the departments to process, transport, and/or shelter with existing resources. As of February 2017, HHS told GAO that HHS and DHS are still in the process of drafting the JCO. To fully address the recommendation, DHS and HHS will need to ensure that the JCO, once finalized and implemented, includes a documented interagency process with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, as well as procedures to disseminate placement decisions, for all agencies involved in the referral and placement of UAC in HHS shelters.
    Recommendation: To increase the efficiency and improve the accuracy of the interagency UAC referral and placement process, the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services should jointly develop and implement a documented interagency process with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, as well as procedures to disseminate placement decisions, for all agencies involved in the referral and placement of UAC in HHS shelters.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2015, DHS stated that the department was collaborating with HHS on finalizing a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) regarding UAC procedures. According to DHS, the MOA is meant to provide a framework for interagency coordination on the responsibilities of the parties in coordinating and establishing procedures, shared goals, and interagency cooperation with respect to UAC. In February 2016, DHS and HHS finalized the MOA. The MOA states that DHS and HHS agree to establish a Joint Concept of Operations (JCO) that should be completed no later than one year following the signing of the MOA. According to the MOA, the JCO should include, among other things, standard protocols for consistent interagency cooperation on the care, processing, and transport of UAC during both steady state operations, as well as in the event the number of UAC exceeds the standard capabilities of the departments to process, transport, and/or shelter with existing resources. As of August 2017, HHS told GAO that HHS and DHS are still in the process of drafting the JCO. To fully address the recommendation, DHS and HHS will need to ensure that the JCO, once finalized and implemented, includes a documented interagency process with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, as well as procedures to disseminate placement decisions, for all agencies involved in the referral and placement of UAC in HHS shelters.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that CBP's land mobile radio systems are functioning as intended in each location and are meeting user needs, the CBP Commissioner should develop a plan to monitor the performance of its deployed radio systems.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure the ICE TACCOM program is effectively managed, the Assistant Secretary of ICE should develop a program plan to ensure that the agency establishes the appropriate documentation of resource needs, program goals, and measures to monitor the performance of its deployed radio systems.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security: Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve CBP training efforts, CBP Commissioner should develop and implement a plan to address any skills gaps for CBP agents and officers related to understanding the new digital radio systems and interagency radio use protocols.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve CBP training efforts, CBP Commissioner should develop a mechanism to verify that all Border Patrol and OFO radio users receive radio training.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve ICE training efforts, the Assistant Secretary of ICE should develop and implement a plan to address any skills gaps for ICE agents related to understanding the new digital radio systems and interagency radio use protocols.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security: Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve ICE training efforts, the Assistant Secretary of ICE should develop a mechanism to verify that all ICE radio users receive radio training.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security: Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Gambler, Rebecca S
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness of southwest border crossing wait time data for informing public and management decisions, the Commissioner of CBP should identify and carry out steps that can be taken to help CBP port officials overcome challenges to consistent implementation of existing wait time estimation methodologies. Steps for ensuring consistent implementation of these methodologies could include, for example, implementing the fiscal year 2008 Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative report recommendations to use closed-circuit television cameras to measure wait time in real time and provide a standardized measurement and validation tool.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, CBP officials report that in order to avoid further investment in a manual wait time methodology, the agency plans to focus resources on developing an enterprise-wide solution for automating the measurement of border delays. CBP estimates that this recommendation will be completed in October 2017.
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness of southwest border crossing wait time data for informing public and management decisions, the Commissioner of CBP should, in consultation with Federal Highway Administration and state DOTs, assess the feasibility of replacing current methods of manually calculating wait times with automated methods, which could include assessing all of the associated costs and benefits, options for how the agency will use and publicly report the results of automated data collection, the potential trade-offs associated with moving to this new system, and other factors such as those influencing the possible expansion of existing automation efforts to the 34 other locations that currently report wait times but have no automation projects under way.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, CBP's Office of Field Operations (OFO) reports working to identify a feasible and cost effective wait time solution to measure commercial vehicle delays along the southern border. Specifically, CBP officials report that they have been partnering with the Federal Highway Administration and the Texas A&M's Transportation Institute on the deployment of an automated radio-frequency identification measurement solution to measure commercial delays at eight crossings. To verify the accuracy of the automated wait time data, CBP officials report that in June 2016 they conducted a ground-truth analysis with mixed results. CBP officials report DHS Science and Technology directorate delivered their final report in February 2017 and by the end of September 2017, pending review and acceptance of the report's findings, CBP will coordinate efforts to develop the required communication protocols and data schematics for near real-time commercial vehicle wait time updates to the CBP Border Wait Time website and Border Wait Time app. CBP estimates that this recommendation will be completed in October 2017.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that CBP's Office of Field Operations' (OFO) staffing processes are transparent and to help ensure CBP can demonstrate that these resource decisions have effectively addressed CBP's mission needs, the Commissioner of CBP should document the methodology and process OFO uses to allocate staff to land ports of entry on the southwest border, including the rationales and factors considered in making these decisions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, CBP's Office of Field Operations (OFO) reports that they have adopted a workload staffing model to identify CBP staffing requirements at land ports of entry. CBP officials report that the workload staffing model provides senior leadership with a decision-support tool to identify the number of required resources for each location and accounts for distinct operating environments, unique variables, and major functions and activities. CBP officials report that they use the workload staffing model results in its budget requests and when allocating staff to the ports of entry. However, CBP has not provided GAO with documentation showing how staff are allocated among land ports of entry including how workload staffing model results are used in this process. CBP officials report that in May 2017 OFO began working with contracted experts to synthesize the quantitative and qualitative data available and develop a comprehensive CBP position allocation methodology. CBP estimates that this recommendation will be completed in March 2018.
    Director: Gambler, Rebecca S
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase the likelihood of successful implementation of the Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan and maximize the effectiveness of technology already deployed, the Commissioner of CBP should take the following step in planning the agency's new technology approach: determine the mission benefits to be derived from implementation of the plan and develop and apply key attributes for metrics to assess program implementation.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: As GAO recommended in November 2011, CBP has identified mission benefits to be derived from implementing the Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan (Plan). In April 2013, CBP issued its Multi-Year Investment and Management Plan for Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology for Fiscal Years 2014 through 2017, which identifies mission benefits to be achieved by all surveillance technologies (e.g., cameras or sensors) to be deployed under the Plan. According to CBP, the majority of these technologies will provide the mission benefits of improved situational awareness and agent safety. Furthermore, according to CBP's Multi-Year Investment and Management Plan for Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology for Fiscal Years 2014 - 2017, the technologies deployed or planned for deployment as part of the Plan are intended to help enhance the ability of Border Patrol agents to detect, identify, deter, and respond to threats along the border. CBP's identification of mission benefits will help position CBP to assess its progress in implementing the Plan and the effectiveness of the Plan's technologies in achieving their intended goals. CBP has made some progress in identifying key attributes for metrics to assess implementation of the Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan (Plan), as GAO recommended in November 2011, but it has not yet fully identified and applied attributes for metrics for all technologies under the Plan. Since August 2010, CBP has operated multiple technology systems under the Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet), which preceded the Plan and is a combination of surveillance technologies aimed at creating a "virtual fence" along the southwest border. Specifically, CBP has operated two surveillance systems under SBInet's initial deployment in high-priority regions of the Arizona border. In October 2012, CBP officials stated that these operations identified examples of key attributes for metrics that can be useful in assessing the implementation for technologies. For example, according to CBP, to help measure whether illegal activity has decreased, examples of key attributes include decreases in arrests, complaints by citizens and ranchers, and destruction of public and private lands and property. In November 2014, CBP identified a set of potential key attributes for performance metrics for all technologies to be deployed under the Plan. While CBP has yet to apply these measures, it established a timeline for developing performance measures for each technology. CBP initially expected baselines for each performance measure to be developed by the end of fiscal year 2015. However, in October 2015, CBP officials stated that CBP had modified its time frame for developing baselines and that additional time would be needed to implement and apply key attributes for metrics. In March 2016, CBP officials stated that CBP had planned to use the baseline data to establish a tool by the end of fiscal year 2016. In addition, CBP officials stated these performance measures would profile levels of situational awareness in various areas of the border. In September 2016, CBP provided GAO a case study that assessed technology assist data along with other measures such as field-based assessments of capability gaps, to determine the contributions of surveillance technologies to its mission. While this is a start to developing and applying performance metrics, the case study was limited to one border location and the analysis was limited to select technologies. Until CBP completes its efforts to fully develop and apply key attributes for performance metrics for all technologies to be deployed under the Plan, it will likely not be able to fully assess its progress in implementing the Plan and determine when mission benefits have been fully realized.
    Recommendation: To increase the reliability of CBP's Cost Estimate for the Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan, the Commissioner of CBP should update its cost estimate for the Plan using best practices, so that the estimate is comprehensive, accurate, well-documented, and credible. Specifically, the CBP's Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition (OTIA) program office should (1) fully document data used in the cost model; (2) conduct a sensitivity analysis and risk and uncertainty analysis to determine a level of confidence in the estimate so that contingency funding can be established relative to quantified risk; and (3) independently verify the new life-cycle cost estimate with an independent cost estimate and reconcile any differences.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: As GAO recommended in 2011, CBP provided cost estimates for the IFT and RVSS programs, the two highest cost programs in the Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan (Plan), in February and March 2012, respectively, and updated the cost estimate for the Plan in June 2013. However, these estimates do not fully meet cost-estimating best practices. In November 2011, GAO reported that the Plan's original cost estimate met some, but not all, cost-estimating best practices. Specifically, CBP had not conducted a sensitivity analysis and a risk and uncertainty analysis to determine a level of confidence in the original estimate, nor did CBP compare the original cost estimate with an independent estimate. For the cost estimate that CBP provided for the IFT in February 2012 and RVSS in March 2012, CBP partially documented the data used in the cost model for the IFT's LCCE (but needs to provide additional data and document management approval) and fully documented the cost model for the RVSS' LCCE. Developing a well-documented cost estimate is a best practice. CBP also conducted a sensitivity analysis and risk and uncertainty analysis to determine the level of confidence in both LCCEs so that contingency funding could be established relative to quantified risk. In addition, CBP's June 2013, CBP revised the cost estimate for the Plan does not fully address our concerns. For example, the IFT and RVSS compose over 90 percent of the Plan's cost in the June 2013 cost estimate; however, CBP has not independently verified its cost estimates for these two programs with independent cost estimates and reconciled any differences. Such action would help CBP better ensure the reliability of each system's cost estimate. Furthermore, the remainder of the June 2013 cost estimate is not fully documented for the Plan's other five programs, consistent with best practices. For example, the estimates for the other five programs are not fully documented because they are provided as summary program costs without detailed descriptions, such as including back-up documentation for labor hours. In November 2015, CBP had yet to update its LCCEs for two of its highest cost programs under the plan. In May 2016, CBP officials stated that the DHS's Cost Analysis Division had started piloting DHS's Independent Cost Estimate capability on the RVSS program in fiscal year 2016. According to CBP officials, this pilot test within CBP is an opportunity to assist DHS in developing its Independent Cost Estimate capability and that CBP selected the RVSS program for the pilot because the RVSS program is at a point in its planning and execution process where it can benefit most from having an independent cost estimate performed as these technologies are being deployed along the southwest border, beyond Arizona. As of October 2016, CBP officials stated that the RVSS schedule and analysis, as well as the results of the independent program cost estimate pilot is expected to be completed at the end of fiscal year 2017. CBP officials stated that they will provide information on the final reconciliation of the independent cost estimate and the RVSS program cost estimate once the pilot has been completed. Further, CBP officials have yet to detail similar plans for the IFT program. As updated life-cycle cost estimates have yet to be completed and independent cost estimates have not been conducted, GAO cannot determine the extent to which the agency is following best practices when updating the life-cycle cost estimates. Moreover, to fully address our recommendation, a LCCE for the Plan that fully addresses best practices is needed to ensure that the estimate is comprehensive, accurate, well-documented, and credible to help the agency and Congress fully understand the impacts of integrating the Plan's various programs.
    Director: Gambler, Rebecca
    Phone: (202) 512-6912

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure DHS is maximizing the benefits of its coordination efforts with northern border partners through interagency forums, documented agreements, and its resource planning process, the Secretary of Homeland Security should provide DHS-level guidance and oversight for interagency forums established or sponsored by its components to ensure that the missions and locations are not duplicative and to consider the downstream burden on northern border partners.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In fiscal year 2011, we reviewed and reported the extent to which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had improved federal coordination of border security intelligence and enforcement operations with state, local, and Canadian law enforcement partners. We found, among other things, that DHS improved northern border security coordination through interagency forums and joint operations; however, partners raised concerns about the resources needed for the increasing number of interagency forums and that some efforts may be overlapping. In May 2011 and June 2012, DHS reported that it took action to coordinate law enforcement initiatives and advance communications interoperability and information sharing, while reducing duplicative activities. DHS also reported that the DHS Northern Border Strategy, released in June 2012, is intended to align internal DHS operations and provide a unified direction that will also help the department reduce duplicative activities. However, DHS's efforts to coordinate law enforcement initiatives and its Northern Border Strategy do not specifically address possible duplication of efforts and resource constraints that may be imposed by interagency forums. Further, DHS leadership has not yet determined how the strategy will be implemented. In October 2015, DHS officials stated that a statement of cooperation for a Cross-Border Law Enforcement Advisory Committee was signed by all five core members. The intent of the committee is to provide executive-level strategic guidance to cross-border law enforcement initiatives involving partnerships between U.S. and Canadian law enforcement agencies on the northern border. However, DHS officials stated that it will take at least a year to show how this committee will increase coordination and prevent duplication among interagency forums, including the IBET and BEST. Development of this committee is a positive step; however, it is too soon to assess the extent to which this committee helps prevent duplication of effort and strengthen coordination efforts along the northern border. As of November 2016, DHS had not provided evidence to show how the committee increased coordination and prevented duplication among interagency forums. To fully address this recommendation, DHS needs to provide guidance specific to interagency forums established or sponsored by its components and conduct DHS-level oversight for those forums to ensure they are not duplicative and do not burden northern border partners.
    Recommendation: To help ensure DHS is maximizing the benefits of its coordination efforts with northern border partners through interagency forums, documented agreements, and its resource planning process, the Secretary of Homeland Security should provide regular DHS-level oversight of Border Patrol and ICE compliance with the provisions of the interagency memorandum of understanding (MOU), including evaluation of outstanding challenges and planned corrective actions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In fiscal year 2011, we reviewed and reported on the extent to which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had made progress in addressing past coordination challenges between U.S. Border Patrol, an office within U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and across the Drug Enforcement Administration and Forest Service, according to northern border security partners. We found, among other things, that federal agency coordination to secure the northern border was improved, but partners cited ongoing challenges sharing information and resources for daily border security related to operations and investigations despite the efforts made to establish and update interagency agreements. In June 2012, DHS reported that the DHS Northern Border Strategy emphasizes the importance of partnerships and coordination and discusses the benefits that can be garnered through collaboration and information sharing. DHS also reported that a National Special Agent in Charge/Chief Patrol Agent Advisory Council was established to enhance collaboration between Border Patrol and ICE, which includes addressing historical points of contention between the two components. While the strategy emphasizes and encourages coordination between Border Patrol and ICE, it does not specifically address compliance with the interagency memoranda of agreement, evaluation of longstanding challenges, or any planned corrective actions. In addition, the advisory council established does not provide DHS-level oversight as it is composed of ICE and Border Patrol officials. In October 2015, DHS officials stated that the Cross-Border Law Enforcement Advisory Committee may provide DHS-level oversight because both CBP and ICE officials are members of the committee. However, as of November 2016, DHS has not yet indicated how the committee may provide guidance and oversight to ensure Border Patrol and ICE compliance with the provisions of the interagency memorandum of understanding, and DHS could not provide timeframes for addressing this recommendation. To fully address this recommendation, DHS needs to take action to specifically address long-standing coordination challenges and enforce DHS-level oversight of Border Patrol and ICE compliance with the interagency memoranda of agreement.
    Recommendation: To help ensure DHS is maximizing the benefits of its coordination efforts with northern border partners through interagency forums, documented agreements, and its resource planning process, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct CBP to develop policy and guidance necessary to identify, assess, and integrate the available partner resources in northern border sector security assessments and resource planning documents.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In fiscal year 2011, we reviewed and reported on the progress the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had made in securing the northern border and the extent to which DHS used partnerships and coordination efforts to address DHS's reported border security vulnerabilities. We found, among other things, that U.S. Border Patrol--a component of DHS's U.S. Customs and Border Protection--reported that 32 of the nearly 4,000 northern border miles in fiscal year 2010 had reached an acceptable level of security. Additionally, law enforcement resources available from DHS's northern border partners to address border security vulnerabilities were not reflected in Border Patrol's processes for assessing border security and resource requirements. In June 2012, CBP reported that the 2012-2016 Border Patrol Strategic Plan is focused on integration, which includes leveraging northern border partnerships and all available capabilities and tools to address threats. In January 2013, the CBP Integrated Planning Guidance (IPG) Fiscal Years 2015-2019 was released. CBP reported that the IPG strengthens CBP's planning capabilities and further implements the Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Accountability integrated business structure. CBP offices were directed to consider guidance in this IPG to inform requirements generation, capabilities prioritization, and coordination with the programming office to refine and validate program, project, and activity requirements. Subsequently, CBP has provided documents that demonstrate CBP coordination efforts with northern border partners through forums, coordination mechanisms, and documented operations plans, but still has no plans to include partner resources in planning documents. As of November 2016, CBP could not provide any evidence that northern border partner resources are included in their operation plans. To fully address the recommendation, CBP must provide policy and guidance to ensure integration of partner resources beyond DHS components and the integration of planning outside of DHS. While the IPG discusses the integration of partner resources it is only within CBP and does not ensure that these resources are integrated into border security assessments and included in its northern border integrated mission analysis and resource planning.
    Director: Gambler, Rebecca S
    Phone: (202)512-8816

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and accountability of checkpoint performance results to the Congress and the public, the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection should establish internal controls for management oversight of the accuracy, consistency, and completeness of checkpoint performance data.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security: Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: In our review of Border Patrol traffic checkpoints, we found inconsistencies in the way field agents collected and entered performance data into the checkpoint information system. As a result, data reported in the system were unreliable. We recommended that Border Patrol establish internal controls to ensure the accuracy, consistency, and completeness of checkpoint performance data. In October 2009, the Border Patrol reported internal control solutions were underway, which would primarily involve upgrading its existing checkpoint data systems and creating a checkpoint data oversight protocol. In June 2013, Border Patrol reported that it was developing a redesigned checkpoint information system that should address the data errors and issues identified by our report. The agency also noted that it was exploring ways to implement a data oversight procedure and training on the importance of accurate data collection. In October 2014, the Border Patrol reported that the recommendation was being addressed in various phases, with a new expected completion date of March 2015. In June 2015, Border Patrol revised the expected completion date to September 2015. In September 2016, Border Patrol officials stated that the agency had not yet updated its checkpoint data system or created a data oversight protocol. Without established internal controls, the integrity of Border Patrol's performance and accountability system with regard to checkpoint operations remains uncertain.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and accountability of checkpoint performance results to the Congress and the public, the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection should implement the quality of life measures that have already been identified by the Border Patrol to evaluate the impact that checkpoints have on local communities. Implementing these measures would include identifying appropriate data sources available at the local, state, or federal level, and developing guidance for how data should be collected and used in support of these measures.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security: Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: In our review of Border Patrol traffic checkpoints, we found that the Border Patrol had identified some measures to evaluate the impact that checkpoints have on local communities in terms of quality of life, but Border Patrol had not implemented the measures. As a result, the Border Patrol lacked information on how checkpoint operations could affect nearby communities. In October 2009, the Border Patrol reported that it was reevaluating its checkpoint performance measures, including quality of life measures. In June 2012, Border Patrol reported that the University of Arizona and the University of Texas, El Paso had completed a study for CBP on checkpoints. This study made several recommendations to Border Patrol on evaluating the impact of checkpoints on local communities using quantitative measures and with maintaining regular contact with the public to elicit opinions on experiences with the checkpoint, both positive and negative. At the time, the Border Patrol noted it intended to develop quantitative measures on community impact, such as on public safety and quality of life, using information collected in the new checkpoint information system it was planning. Border Patrol also noted that it was considering the budgetary feasibility of (1) conducting a survey of checkpoint travelers to gather detailed information about the community and impact metrics that are of highest importance to the public and (2) implementing an expedited lane for regular and pre-approved travelers. In July 2014, the Border Patrol revised the expected completion date for this recommendation to March 2015, noting that it planned to request ideas from the field commanders on what the agency could measure that would accurately depict the impact of checkpoints on the community. In June 2015, Border Patrol revised the expected completion date to September 2015. In September 2016, officials from Border Patrol's Checkpoint Program Management Office said quality of life measures had not been implemented and they were not aware of any plans to develop and implement such measures.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and accountability of checkpoint performance results to the Congress and the public, the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection should use the information generated from the quality of life measures in conjunction with other relevant factors to inform resource allocations and address identified impacts.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security: Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: In our review of Border Patrol traffic checkpoints, we found that while the Border Patrol's national strategy cites the importance of assessing the community impact of Border Patrol operations, the implementation of such measures was lacking in terms of checkpoint operations. We recommended that Border Patrol implement such measures in areas of community concern to provide greater attention and priority in Border Patrol operational and staffing decisions to address any existing issues. In October 2009, the Border Patrol reported that once it had completed an upgrade of its existing checkpoint data systems and had reevaluated its checkpoint performance measures, the agency would begin using information garnered by these performance measures to inform future resource allocation decisions. This was originally expected to be completed by September 30, 2010, but due to budgetary and other issues, the checkpoint system upgrades were not yet completed as of June 2013. Border Patrol reported to us in June 2013 that the redesigned and upgraded checkpoint information system was expected to be implemented in September 2014. In July 2014, however, Border Patrol revised its expected completion date to March 2016. In June 2015, Border Patrol reported that it was on target to meet this March 2016 completion date. However, in September 2016, officials from Border Patrol's Checkpoint Program Management Office stated that they were not aware of any planned or completed actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the checkpoint design process results in checkpoints that are sized and resourced to meet operational and community needs, the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection should, in connection with planning for new or upgraded checkpoints, conduct a workforce planning needs assessment for checkpoint staffing allocations to determine the resources needed to address anticipated levels of illegal activity around the checkpoint.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security: Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: In our review of Border Patrol traffic checkpoints, we found that Border Patrol's checkpoint strategy to push illegal aliens and smugglers to areas around checkpoints-which could include nearby communities-underscores the need for the Border Patrol to ensure that it deploys sufficient resources and staff to these areas. We recommended that Border Patrol conduct a needs assessment when planning for a new or upgraded checkpoint in order to better ensure that officials consider the potential impact of the checkpoint on the community and plan for a sufficient number of agents and resources. In October 2009, Border Patrol reported that the agency was evaluating its checkpoint policy regarding the establishment of a new checkpoint or the upgrade of an old checkpoint, and checkpoint policy changes would be finalized by September 30, 2010. Border Patrol also reported that checkpoint system upgrades that capture data on checkpoint performance would help management determine future resource needs at checkpoints. In June 2013, Border Patrol reported that due to budget and other issues, the checkpoint system upgrade had not been completed, and the rewritten checkpoint data protocol had not been approved. In June 2013, Border Patrol reported that as part of the checkpoint study conducted by the DHS Centers of Excellence, the Centers created checkpoint simulation tools that would help inform resource allocations when determining the number of inspection lanes on current or new checkpoints. The Border Patrol agreed with the utility of such a model, but noted that the Border Patrol would need to purchase modeling software--a cost-prohibitive measure in the current budget environment. In the interim, Border Patrol is developing a formal workforce staffing model to identify staffing strategies for all Border Patrol duties. Border Patrol expected to implement this model for checkpoint staffing assignments in fiscal year 2014. However, in July 2014, Border Patrol reported that the Border Patrol Personnel Requirements Determination project was still being developed and would not be complete until 2015. That process will inform staffing at checkpoints. As a result, Border Patrol revised its expected implementation date to September 2015. In June 2015, Border Patrol reported that it was on target to implement this recommendation by September 2015. In September 2016, Border Patrol officials reported that the agency's Personnel Requirements Determination process would not provide information on staffing needs until fiscal year 2017 or 2018, and also noted that this effort is not specifically examining staffing needs at checkpoints. Officials said there could be additional ways to address the recommendation, but that there were no ongoing efforts to do so apart from any information that may be available from the Personnel Requirements Determination process.