The Customs Reception:

Relatively Few Complaints but They Could Be Handled Better

GGD-77-59: Published: Jul 26, 1977. Publicly Released: Jul 26, 1977.

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Considering its responsibilities and the number of people the U.S. Customs Service deals with, some complaints are inevitable. However, Customs could handle the complaints it receives better than it has.

Review of 148 complaints from two districts showed that while actions on the 21 complaints handled by the Regional Offices of Internal Affairs were well supported, the documentation and treatment of the other 127, handled at the district level, could have been better. Only 63 of the 127 complaint cases were documented to show that some type of investigation had been made and in most cases the documentation was not sufficient to evaluate the need for corrective action. Since Customs does not routinely summarize and analyze complaints agencywide, some complaints may not be registered, and charges that its officials are not complying with specific standards of conduct may not surface. Since there are no instructions or guidance to the public on how to lodge a complaint, some persons may have been unhappy but unaware of how to communicate this to the proper Customs officials.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Customs should establish a system for complaint receipt and handling compatible with the Department of the Treasury's Consumer Representation Plan, providing, among other things, instructions and guidance to the public on the type of information needed in making a complaint and where it should be sent; procedures to district offices for investigating complaints and taking corrective actions; and procedures for summarizing and analyzing complaints agencywide.

    Agency Affected:


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