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    Federal Agency: "United States Customs and Border Protection"

    18 publications with a total of 48 open recommendations including 5 priority recommendations
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Chief of the Border Patrol should issue guidance for sectors to improve the quality and usability of its surveillance technology asset assist information to help ensure it has reliable data so that Border Patrol can be better positioned to measure the impact of these technologies on its border security efforts and inform future investments. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection: Office of the Commissioner: U.S. Border Patrol
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Lori Rectanus
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve agencies' physical security programs' alignment with the ISC Risk Management Process for Federal Facilities and Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government for information and monitoring, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection should, with regard to the updated Security Policy and Procedures Handbook, include the ISC's Risk Management Process for Federal Facilities requirement to assess all undesirable events, consider all three factors of risk, and document deviations from the standard.

    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 agencies' physical security programs' alignment with the ISC Risk Management Process for Federal Facilities and Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government for information and monitoring, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, with regard to the updated Security Policy and Procedures Handbook, should include data collection and analysis requirements for monitoring the performance of CBP's physical security program.

    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 agencies' physical security programs' alignment with the ISC Risk Management Process for Federal Facilities and Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government for information and monitoring, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, should revise the assumptions used in the plan to address the backlog to balance assessments with competing priorities, such as updating the policy manual and reviewing new construction design, to develop a feasible time frame for completing the assessment backlog.

    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: David Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection should take steps to strengthen compliance with export reporting requirements related to duty-free cigarette sales on the southwest border, such as issuing guidance to all duty-free store operators. (Recommendation 1)

    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

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of CBP should develop and implement a policy and related guidance for documenting arrangements with landowners, as needed, on Border Patrol's maintenance of roads it uses to conduct its operations, and share these documented arrangements with its sectors. (Recommendation 1)

    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: The Commissioner of CBP should clearly document the process and criteria for making decisions on funding non-owned operational requirements and communicate this process to Border Patrol sectors. (Recommendation 2)

    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: The Commissioner of CBP should assess the feasibility of options for addressing the maintenance of nonfederal public roads. This should include a review of data needed to determine the extent of its reliance on non-owned roads for border security operations. (Recommendation 3)

    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: Kimberly M. Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen CBP's ability to assess and respond to compliance risks across the FTZ program, the Commissioner of CBP should centrally compile information from FTZ compliance reviews and associated enforcement actions so that standardized data are available for assessing compliance and internal control risks across the FTZ program.

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

    Comments: CBP concurred with this recommendation and identified steps it intends to take in response to the recommendation. Specifically, CBP stated that it intends to prepare and disseminate a summary template for compiling FTZ compliance reviews and internal control risks across the FZ program. When we confirm the steps CBP has taken to address this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen CBP's ability to assess and respond to compliance risks across the FTZ program, the Commissioner of CBP should conduct a risk analysis of the FTZ program using data across FTZs, including an analysis of the likelihood and significance of compliance violations and enforcement actions.

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

    Comments: CBP concurred with this recommendation and identified steps it intends to take in response to the recommendation. Specifically, CBP stated that it will conduct a risk analysis across the FTZ program. When we confirm the steps CBP has taken to address this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen CBP's ability to assess and respond to compliance risks across the FTZ program, the Commissioner of CBP should utilize the results of the program-wide risk analysis to respond to identified risks, such as updating risk assessment tools and developing best practices for CBP's FTZ compliance review and risk categorization system.

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

    Comments: CBP concurred with this recommendation and identified steps it intends to take in response to the recommendation. Specifically, CBP responded that it will finalize a compliance review handbook that incorporates risk assessment tools and best practices for FTZ compliance reviews and risk categorization. When we confirm the steps CBP has taken to address this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Jennifer Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance CBP's identification of high-risk cargo shipments and its enforcement of the ISF rule, the Commissioner of CBP should enforce the ISF rule requirement that carriers provide CSMs to CBP when targeters identify CSM noncompliance.

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

    Comments: CBP's Office of Field Operations is developing an enforcement strategy for container status messages (CSM) that it plans to complete by August 31, 2017. Once the strategy is completed, OFO plans to provide CSM enforcement guidance to the Advance Targeting Units. This recommendation will remain open until CBP's planned actions are completed and meet the intent of GAO's recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance CBP's identification of high-risk cargo shipments and its enforcement of the ISF rule, the Commissioner of CBP should evaluate the ISF enforcement strategies used by ATUs to assess whether particular enforcement methods could be applied to ports with relatively low submission rates.

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

    Comments: CBP plans to discuss enforcement strategies during monthly conference calls held by the National Targeting Center-Cargo with all Advance Targeting Units (ATU) in order to identify the factors that are impacting ports with lower Importer Security Filing (ISF) compliance rates. In addition, CBP plans to leverage the strategies employed by ATUs overseeing ports with higher ISF compliance rates in order to increase the ISF submission rates at the ports with lower compliance rates. This recommendation will remain open until CBP's planned actions are completed and meet the intent of GAO's recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of CBP should identify and collect additional performance information on the impact of the ISF rule data, such as the identification of shipments containing contraband, to better evaluate the effectiveness of the ISF program.

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

    Comments: CBP is developing a plan (by August 31, 2017) to assess additional performance metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of the Importer Security Filing Program. After the plan has been developed, CBP will extract the performance data for analysis and, if needed, take actions to implement changes to the Program. This recommendation will remain open until CBP's planned actions are completed and meet the intent of GAO's recommendation.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen CBP's trade enforcement efforts, the Commissioner of CBP should direct the Office of Trade to include performance targets, when applicable, in addition to performance measures in its Priority Trade Issue strategic and annual plans.

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

    Comments: As of September 2017, CBP indicated that CBP's Office of Trade has been performing biweekly reviews of current performance measure results and had scheduled a management planning meeting to closeout FY 2017. CBP indicated that these efforts will help establish the performance target baselines for FY 2018. CBP indicated that it plans to establish the FY 2018 priorities and Priority Trade Issue strategic and annual plans, but as of September 2017 has not provided timeframes for project completion.
    Recommendation: To strengthen CBP's trade enforcement efforts, the Commissioner of CBP should direct the Office of Trade and the Office of Field Operations to develop a long-term hiring plan that articulates how CBP will reach its staffing targets for trade positions set in the Homeland Security Act and the agency's resource optimization model.

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

    Comments: As of September 2017, CBP indicated that, in order to develop a long-term hiring plan, CBP's Office of Trade (OT), Office of Field Operations (OFO), and Human Resources Management (HRM) established a working group of key stakeholders to define the hiring challenges related to the trade positions. CBP identified the key stakeholders for the working group and was planning its first meeting for the working group. In the interim, CBP indicated that it was actively addressing trade hiring gaps through a variety of mechanisms that includes building recruiting partnerships with universities as well as closely tracking and monitoring the hiring of import specialists from initial announcement through entrance on duty.
    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

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure Border Patrol has the best available information to inform future investments in TI and resource allocation decisions among TI and other assets Border Patrol deploys in the furtherance of border security operations, and to ensure that key parties within Border Patrol's Requirements Management Process are aware of their roles and responsibilities within the process, the Chief of the Border Patrol should develop metrics to assess the contributions of pedestrian and vehicle fencing to border security along the southwest border using the data Border Patrol already collects and apply this information, as appropriate, when making investment and resource allocation decisions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection: Office of the Commissioner: U.S. Border Patrol
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DHS concurred agreed with the this recommendation and stated that it planned to develop and incorporate metrics into Border Patrol's Requirements Management Process.
    Recommendation: To ensure Border Patrol has the best available information to inform future investments in TI and resource allocation decisions among TI and other assets Border Patrol deploys in the furtherance of border security operations, and to ensure that key parties within Border Patrol's Requirements Management Process are aware of their roles and responsibilities within the process, the Chief of the Border Patrol should develop and implement written guidance to include roles and responsibilities for the steps within its requirements process for identifying, funding, and deploying tactical infrastructure assets for border security operations.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection: Office of the Commissioner: U.S. Border Patrol
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DHS concurred with the recommendation and stated that it plans to update the Requirements Management Process and, as part of that update, plans to add communication and training methods and tools to better implement the Process. DHS plans to complete these efforts by September 2019.
    Director: Jennifer Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that C-TPAT program managers are provided consistent data from the C-TPAT field offices on security validations, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection should develop standardized guidance for the C-TPAT field offices to use in tracking and reporting information on the number of required and completed security validations.

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

    Comments: On April 28, 2017, CBP officials provided documentation--a common worksheet, instructions, and related standard operating procedures for C-TPAT field offices to use in tracking and reporting information to headquarters staff on security validations required and completed. We reviewed the information and interviewed C-TPAT officials in two field offices and C-TPAT's Plans and Operations Branch, which is responsible for overseeing these efforts, about the new procedures. In early August 2017, we asked for additional evidence that C-TPAT is ensuring one standard approach across its field offices for capturing and reporting security validations required and completed. The BBP liaison informed us that C-TPAT officials are to provide the additional evidence by the end of September 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure the availability of complete and accurate data for managing the C-TPAT program and establishing and maintaining reliable indicators on the extent to which C-TPAT members receive benefits, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection should determine the specific problems that have led to questionable data contained in the Dashboard and develop an action plan, with milestones and completion dates, for correcting the data so that the C-TPAT program can produce accurate and reliable data for measuring C-TPAT member benefits.

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

    Comments: On July 28, 2017, CBP provided us with documentation, to include: a schedule of completed and planned activities related to refining data reporting system requirements, testing of preliminary results from new data runs, developing a reporting system for tracking security examination rates, and a copy of the results of a preliminary data run identifying shipment examination rates by mode of transportation and C-TPAT member Tier level. CBP staff informed us that the steps being taken to address this recommendation are to continue through the end of the 2017. In the interim, we are reviewing the documents CBP provided to determine what, if any, additional information we may need to assess progress in addressing this recommendation.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure the effectiveness of CBP's predeparture programs, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection should develop and implement a system of performance measures and baselines to evaluate the effectiveness of CBP's predeparture programs and assess whether the programs are achieving their stated goals.

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

    Comments: U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) reported that it established a working group comprised of designated program officials from CBP's Admissibility and Passenger Programs; National Targeting Center; Planning, Program Analysis, and Evaluation; and, Preclearance offices to develop and implement a system of performance measures and baselines to evaluate the effectiveness of CBP's predeparture programs. As of July 2017, CBP reported that the working group had developed three performance measures for its predeparture programs. According to OFO officials, fiscal year 2018 will be the first complete year that each of these measures is calculated using a standardized and repeatable methodology and will thus be used as a baseline year. The baselines developed during fiscal year 2018 will then be used in future assessments of program effectiveness. To fully address this recommendation to develop and implement performance measures and baselines for evaluating its predeparture programs, GAO will review documentation from CBP, when available, on the fiscal year 2018 baselines and CBP's planned evaluation of fiscal year 2019 data against those baselines.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better inform on the effectiveness of CDS implementation and border security efforts, the Chief of Border Patrol should strengthen the methodology for calculating recidivism such as by using an alien's apprehension history beyond one fiscal year and excluding aliens for whom there is no record of removal and who may remain in the United States.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection: Office of the Commissioner: U.S. Border Patrol
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better inform on the effectiveness of CDS implementation and border security efforts, the Chief of Border Patrol should collect information on reasons agents do not apply the CDS guides' Most Effective and Efficient consequences to assess the extent that agents' application of these consequences can be increased and modify development of CDS guides, as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection: Office of the Commissioner: U.S. Border Patrol
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better inform on the effectiveness of CDS implementation and border security efforts, the Chief of Border Patrol should revise CDS guidance to ensure consistent and accurate methodologies for estimating Border Patrol costs across consequences and to factor in, where appropriate and available, the relative costs of any federal partner resources necessary to implement each consequence.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection: Office of the Commissioner: U.S. Border Patrol
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better inform on the effectiveness of CDS implementation and border security efforts, the Chief of Border Patrol should ensure that sector management is monitoring progress in meeting their performance targets and communicating performance results to Border Patrol headquarters management.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection: Office of the Commissioner: U.S. Border Patrol
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better inform on the effectiveness of CDS implementation and border security efforts, the Chief of Border Patrol should provide consistent guidance for alien classification and take steps to ensure CDS Project Management Office and sector management conduct data integrity activities necessary to strengthen control over the classification of aliens.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection: Office of the Commissioner: U.S. Border Patrol
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Kimberly M. Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better manage the AD/CV duty liquidation process, CBP should issue guidance directing the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralization Team to (a) collect and analyze data on a regular basis to identify and address the causes of liquidations that occur contrary to the process or outside the 6-month time frame mandated by statute, (b) track progress on reducing such liquidations, and (c) report on any effects these liquidations may have on revenue.

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

    Comments: CBP concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. CBP has issued guidance requiring the collection, analysis, and reporting of AD/CV data to identify and address the causes of liquidations that occur contrary to the process or outside the 6-month time frame mandated by statute, as GAO recommended in July 2016. CBP is analyzing the results of its fiscal year 2017 self-inspection program to assess its progress on reducing such liquidations and report on the revenue effect. CBP expects to complete its analysis by Fall 2017. Systematically collecting and analyzing liquidation data on a regular basis to identify and address the causes of untimely liquidations and tracking and reporting on progress toward reducing such liquidations could help CBP reduce revenue loss.
    Recommendation: To improve risk management in the collection of AD/CV duties and to identify new or changing risks, CBP should regularly conduct a comprehensive risk analysis that assesses both the likelihood and the significance of risk factors related to AD/CV duty collection. For example, CBP could construct statistical models that explore the associations between potential risk factors and both the probability of nonpayment and the size of nonpayment when it occurs.

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

    Comments: CBP concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. As of September 2017, CBP had not regularly conducted a risk analysis that assesses both the likelihood and significance of risk factors related to AD/CV duty collection, as GAO recommended in July 2016. However, CBP was in the process of developing a model to enable it to conduct such a risk analysis on a regular basis. CBP expects to test the model by Fall 2017; however, CBP officials said that full implementation of the model will not take place until the end of fiscal year 2018 due to the complexity of the project. CBP officials noted that they are working to hire additional staff to dedicate to model development; acquire a dedicated server for processing data to regularly update the models; and identify other CBP programs that would benefit from risk models similar to the ones they are developing for AD/CV duties. Regularly conducting a comprehensive risk analysis of factors related to AD/CV duty non-collection could enhance CBP's capacity to collect additional revenue. For example, it could result in the identification of new factors generating a requirement for an importer to provide additional security in the form of bonds as part of an enhanced bonding requirement.
    Recommendation: To improve risk management in the collection of AD/CV duties, CBP should, consistent with U.S. law and international obligations, take steps to use its data and risk assessment strategically to mitigate AD/CV duty nonpayment, such as by using predictive risk analysis to identify entries that pose heightened risk and taking appropriate action to mitigate the risk.

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

    Comments: CBP concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. As of September 2017, CBP was in the process of developing a risk analysis model to use in mitigating AD/CV duty nonpayment, as GAO recommended in July 2016. The model will use predictive risk analysis to identify entries that pose a heightened risk of nonpayment. CBP has contacted the Customs Surety Association and the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee to discuss bonding options to help mitigate the risk of nonpayment. Developing a risk analysis model to use in mitigating AD/CV duty nonpayment could enhance CBP's capacity to collect additional revenue. For example, it could be used to identify entries from importers requiring additional security in the form of bonds as part of an enhanced bonding requirement.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    3 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 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.
    Director: J. Christopher Mihm
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Recognizing that moving toward a more customer-oriented culture within federal agencies is likely to be a continuous effort, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection should, to improve CBP's customer service standards: (1) ensure standards include performance targets or goals, (2) ensure standards include performance measures.

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

    Comments: In January 2017, CBP sent an email stating that the agency has done all it can to fully implement the recommendation at this time. Because CBP does not have performance goals or targets for customer service standards this recommendation remains open. In April 2016, CBP provided us with customer service survey questions they use to collect data. Based on our review of that information, we were unable to confirm CBP had established performance targets and goals for the data being collected. As we stated in the report, performance goals should be in a quantifiable and measurable form to define the level of performance to be achieved for program activities each year. Although CBP is collecting new customer service data based on survey responses, without predetermined performance targets that align with a customer service standard it is not clear what or if internal targets or customer needs are being met. In June 2017, we emailed CBP for an update on the status of this recommendation. Once a response is received we will update this recommendation.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    5 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the acquisition management of the Plan and the reliability of its cost estimates and schedules, assess the effectiveness of deployed technologies, and better inform CBP's deployment decisions, when updating the schedules for the IFT, Remote Video Surveillance System (RVSS), and Mobile Surveillance Capability programs, the Commissioner of CBP should ensure that scheduling best practices, as outlined in our schedule assessment guide, are applied to the three programs' schedules.

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

    Comments: In March 2014, CBP concurred with our recommendation and in response, stated it planned to ensure that scheduling best practices are applied as far as practical when updating the three program schedules. In May 2016 CBP provided us with complete schedules for the IFT and RVSS programs. In December 2016, we provided CBP our assessment of the updated schedules for the IFT and RVSS programs. In January 2017 CBP provided us with a complete schedule for the MSC program and in March 2017, we provided CBP with our assessment of the MSC schedule. In April 2017, CBP provided additional clarifying information in regards to the MSC schedule. As of May 2017, based on our assessment of the updated schedules for the IFT, RVSS, and MSC programs, CBP has made improvements in the quality of the schedules since our last report, but the program schedules have not met all characteristics of a reliable schedule.
    Recommendation: To improve the acquisition management of the Plan and the reliability of its cost estimates and schedules, assess the effectiveness of deployed technologies, and better inform CBP's deployment decisions, the Commissioner of CBP should develop and maintain an Integrated Master Schedule for the Plan that is consistent with scheduling best practices.

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

    Comments: In March 2014, CBP did not concur with this recommendation and maintained that an integrated master schedule for the Plan in one file undermines the DHS-approved implementation strategy for the individual programs making up the Plan, and that the implementation of this recommendation would essentially create a large, aggregated program, and effectively create an aggregated "system of systems". DHS further stated that a key element of the Plan has been the disaggregation of technology procurements. As of December 2016, CBP continues to non-concur with this recommendation and plans no further action. However, as we noted in the report, collectively these programs are intended to provide CBP with a combination of surveillance capabilities to be used along the Arizona border with Mexico. Moreover, while the programs themselves may be independent of one another, the Plan's resources are being shared among the programs. As such, we continue to believe that developing an integrated master schedule for the Plan is needed. Developing and maintaining an integrated master schedule for the Plan could allow CBP insight into current or programmed allocation of resources for all programs as opposed to attempting to resolve any resource constraints for each program individually.
    Recommendation: To improve the acquisition management of the Plan and the reliability of its cost estimates and schedules, assess the effectiveness of deployed technologies, and better inform CBP's deployment decisions, when updating Life-cycle Cost Estimates for the IFT and RVSS programs, the Commissioner of CBP should verify the Life-cycle Cost Estimates with independent cost estimates and reconcile any differences.

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

    Comments: In March 2014, DHS concurred with this recommendation. In May 2016 CBP provided us with updated life-cycle cost estimates for two of its highest-cost programs under the Plan--the Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) and the Remote Video Surveillance (RVSS). Further, CBP officials stated that in fiscal year 2016, DHS's Cost Analysis Division started piloting DHS's independent cost estimate capability on the RVSS program. According to CBP officials, the pilot 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 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. In August 2016, CBP officials provided an update stating that details for an estimated independent cost estimate schedule and analysis plan for the RVSS program had not yet been finalized. As of November 2016, CBP officials stated that the results of the independent cost estimate for the RVSS program are expected to be completed by January 31, 2017. Further, CBP officials have not detailed similar plans for the IFT. We continue to believe that independently verifying the life-cycle cost estimates for the IFT and RVSS programs and reconciling any differences, consistent with best practices, could help CBP better ensure the reliability of the estimates.
    Recommendation: To improve the acquisition management of the Plan and the reliability of its cost estimates and schedules, assess the effectiveness of deployed technologies, and better inform CBP's deployment decisions, the Commissioner of CBP should revise the IFT Test and Evaluation Master Plan to more fully test the IFT program, before beginning full production, in the various environmental conditions in which IFTs will be used to determine operational effectiveness and suitability, in accordance with DHS acquisition guidance.

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

    Comments: In March 2014, DHS did not concur with this recommendation and stated that the Test and Evaluation Master Plan includes tailored testing and user assessments that will provide much, if not all, of the insight contemplated by the intent of the recommendation. According to CBP officials, acceptance testing was performed on the system in July 2015 and a limited user testing for the IFT system was conducted during October and November 2015. In May 2016, CBP reported that it had conditionally accepted seven out of 53 IFT systems in one area of responsibility. CBP also reported that it is working to deploy and test the remaining IFT unit systems to other areas of responsibility. In November 2016, CBP stated that they continue to non-concur with this recommendation and planned no further action. However, as we reported in March 2014, we continue to believe that revising the Test and Evaluation Master Plan to include more robust testing to determine operational effectiveness and suitability could better position CBP to (1) evaluate IFT capabilities before moving forward to full production for the system, (2) provide CBP with information on the extent to which the towers satisfy Border Patrol's user requirements, and (3) reduce potential program risks. Without conducting operational testing in accordance with DHS guidance, the IFT program may be at increased risk of not meeting Border Patrol operational needs.
    Recommendation: To improve the acquisition management of the Plan and the reliability of its cost estimates and schedules, assess the effectiveness of deployed technologies, and better inform CBP's deployment decisions, once data on asset assists are required to be recorded and tracked, the Commissioner of CBP should analyze available data on apprehensions and seizures and technological assists, in combination with other relevant performance metrics or indicators, as appropriate, to determine the contribution of surveillance technologies to CBP's border security efforts.

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

    Comments: In February 2015, Border Patrol officials provided documentation stating that the agency has yet to analyze data on asset assists, in combination with other relevant performance metrics and indicators to determine the contributions of surveillance technologies to its mission. However, the Border Patrol plans to address this recommendation using the Capability Gap Analysis Process (CGAP) developed by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab specifically for the Border Patrol. According to Border Patrol officials, the CGAP will enable the agency to examine the effects of technology and other Border Patrol assets such as agents, infrastructure, in the context of everyday border patrol operations. The data generated by the CGAP along with e3 apprehension and seizure data will better inform the nature of the contributions and impacts of surveillance technology on enforcement efforts. Border Patrol officials explained that capturing data on asset assists within the in e3 Processing database was the first step to determine the contribution of technology to detect, identify, and classify activity along the border. Further, the Border Patrol identified individual types of technology such as Integrated Fixed Towers, Mobile Video Surveillance System, Underground Sensors, etc. and grouped them into classes such as Fixed, Mobile and Relocatable to better distinguish the contribution of each class of technology. As the Border Patrol gains a better understanding through analysis, the agency plans to continue to refine the measures and the collection of the metrics. In November 2014, the Border Patrol proposed a timeline highlighting the agency's future efforts to capture and document the contributions of the different classes of technology to the Border Patrol's mission. In our March 2016 update on the progress made by agencies to address our findings on duplication and cost savings across the federal government, we reported that CBP had modified its time frame for developing baselines for each performance measure and that additional time would be needed to implement and apply key attributes for metrics. In March 2016, according to CBP officials, the actual completion was being adjusted pending test and evaluation results for recently deployed technologies on the southwest border. In addition, Border Patrol officials told us that they planned to have various qualitative and quantitative performance measures of technology completed by the end of fiscal year 2016. These measures would help profile different levels of situational awareness in different areas of the border. In September 2016, Border Patrol provided a case study that assessed CGAP data with technology assist data and other measures to determine contributions of surveillance technologies to its mission. While this is a start to developing performance measures, the case study is limited to one location along the border and the analysis limited to select technologies. As of April 2017, CBP had not conducted assessments of the deployments to determine the contribution of surveillance technologies to the border security mission. 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 not be well positioned to fully assess its progress in implementing and determining the Plan and determine when mission benefits have been fully realized.
    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.