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    Subject Term: "Drug trafficking"

    3 publications with a total of 6 open recommendations
    Director: Jessica Farb
    Phone: (202) 512-6991

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure effective implementation of the strategic objective of the Weapons Chapter of the Strategy, the ONDCP Director should establish a more comprehensive indicator, or set of indicators, that more accurately reflects progress made by ATF and ICE in meeting the strategic objective.

    Agency: Office of National Drug Control Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As part of ONDCP's comments on our draft report, the agency concurred with our recommendation to establish a more comprehensive set of indicators for the Weapons Chapter of the National Southwest Border Counternarcotic Strategy. ONDCP indicated that it would work with ICE and ATF to develop additional indicators to evaluate their progress. ONDCP agreed that the indicators developed through this collaborative process would be used in future iterations of the Strategy. However, in its July 26, 2017 letter to the relevant congressional committees leadership ONDCP explained that a decision has not been made on whether a new iteration of Strategy will be released, or if the current Administration will take different approach to address this issue. We will need to wait until an update of the Strategy is available for us to review to determine if our recommendation has been implemented.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies' policies and oversight are fully consistent with The Attorney General's Guidelines Regarding the Use of Confidential Informants, the Assistant Secretary of ICE and the Commandant of USCG should update their respective agencies' informant policies and corresponding monitoring processes to explicitly address the Guidelines' provisions on oversight of informants' illegal activities.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2016, ICE issued a memo regarding changes to its policies for the registration and suitability of confidential informants. The memo included updated forms to oversee those aspects of confidential informant oversight. In April 2017, ICE officials informed GAO that a working group is in the process of updating the Informants Handbook and the Undercover Operations Handbook. ICE expects to finalize drafts of the handbooks in September 2017 and implement them by December 2017. When the updated handbooks are available for GAO's review, we will assess the extent to which they address our recommendation.
    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. Also in October 2009, Border Patrol issued a memorandum specifying which data fields agents should use to indicate that an enforcement activity occurred at a checkpoint (or on a circumvention route, for apprehensions), and in January 2010 Border Patrol issued an additional memorandum on checkpoint data integrity that further specified definitions for "at the checkpoint" and "circumvention." 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. In October 2017, DHS stated that it expects to issue an updated checkpoint policy, including updates on data entry guidance and oversight to address data integrity, by February 28, 2018. 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 December 2012, the DHS Center of Excellence 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. In October 2017, DHS stated that it expects to establish performance measures related to community impacts by February 28, 2018. Measuring performance, such as quality of life measures related to checkpoints, would give Border Patrol critical information on which to base decisions for improving checkpoint operations.
    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. In October 2017, DHS stated that it expects to establish performance measures related to community impacts by February 28, 2018, and that these measures will be used to inform resource allocation decisions. Measuring performance, such as quality of life measures related to checkpoints, would give Border Patrol critical information on which to base decisions for improving checkpoint operations.
    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. However, according to the Border Patrol official overseeing the project, subsequent changes in leadership and factors unrelated to checkpoints have affected the overall time frames for the Personnel Requirements Determination project. 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. In October 2017, DHS stated that it expects to use information from the Personnel Requirements Determination process to determine staffing requirements and address our recommendation by September 30, 2019. Conducting a needs assessment when planning for a new or upgraded checkpoint could help better ensure that officials consider the potential impact of the checkpoint on the community and plan for a sufficient number of agents and resources.