Customs Service:

Information on the Design of the Self-Inspection Program

GGD-00-151: Published: Jun 23, 2000. Publicly Released: Jul 5, 2000.

Additional Materials:


Laurie E. Ekstrand
(202) 512-2758


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the design and implementation of the Customs Service's Self-Inspection Program (SIP), focusing on: (1) SIP's principal features; (2) the basis for Customs' design for SIP; (3) how SIP differs from Customs' previous management inspection program; and (4) SIP design issues identified by Customs to date and what Customs is doing to respond to them.

GAO noted that: (1) Customs' SIP provides a mechanism for management oversight of programs and processes that is intended to build accountability and foster integrity throughout the Customs Service; (2) under SIP, all Customs supervisors and managers are responsible for conducting a self-inspection every 6 months of the activities they oversee, using uniform self-inspection worksheets that are designed to evaluate financial vulnerability and corruption, mission performance and resource utilization, and internal/external relationships; (3) in designing SIP, Customs reviewed literature on program design and contacted several organizations to learn about their programs; (4) from this research, specific features were selected: (a) ownership of the program at all levels; (b) scope that covers operational and administrative areas; (c) use of an independent body to validate self-assessments; (d) use of uniform worksheets that contain questions about essential control points for managers; (e) funneling of results up the chain of command; and (f) performance of self-inspections according to a set schedule; (5) under Customs' previous management inspection program, Management Inspections Division (MID) personnel were to perform a review of each administrative and operational area of an activity about once every 5 years; (6) these reviews took MID about 2 to 3 weeks to complete at each location; (7) under SIP, all supervisors and managers are to inspect, assess, and monitor their own activities every 6 months; (8) MID's independent reviews are to be less comprehensive than those performed formerly and are expected to take about 5 days; (9) based on the first SIP cycle, a major program design problem consisted of confusing worksheet questions and directions; (10) to address the problem, Customs revised the worksheets to include: (a) specific directions about who should complete them; (b) detailed sampling methodology and instructions; (c) citations to references for most questions; and (d) reworded questions designed to be more specific and less confusing; (11) two other program design issues have emerged: (a) the lack of an automated system to analyze SIP results, which makes it difficult to identify national trends or to track whether corrective actions have been taken; and (b) the degree of discretion allowed for offices to perform their self-inspections; and (12) the Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Field Operations decided to complete half the self-inspection worksheets every 6 months so that each worksheet will be completed on a yearly basis.

Oct 26, 2020

Sep 30, 2020

Sep 10, 2020

Sep 8, 2020

Aug 13, 2020

Jul 29, 2020

Jul 8, 2020

Jun 22, 2020

May 26, 2020

May 12, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here