Customs' Efforts To Develop a System for Assigning Inspectors Need Top Management Support

GGD-78-48: Published: May 2, 1978. Publicly Released: May 2, 1978.

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The method the U.S. Customs Service uses to allocate inspectors to ports-of-entry has created staffing inconsistencies and the potential for their inefficient use. Although Customs has been aware of these shortcomings for many years, only recently have efforts been made to correct the problem. In August 1976, Customs established the Productivity Task Force to develop an approach to productivity management.

Despite the magnitude of its responsibilities, Customs does not have a system which provides detailed information on its inspection efforts and which relates such efforts to accomplishments, considering such factors as volume, processing complexity, enforcement risks, and facility restrictions. In addition, Customs terminology has not been standardized, thereby hindering the conversion of workload data to staffing requirements. A review of Customs operations at several locations showed no apparent correlation between the number of inspectors assigned to a port-of-entry and the workload in terms of activity levels, work complexity, or enforcement risks. Efforts to correct these problems through the Productivity Management and Improvement Program appear to be weakening, and top management support is needed if Customs is to make a more rational allocation of inspectors.

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