Customs Service:

Inspectional Personnel and Workloads

T-GGD-98-195: Published: Aug 14, 1998. Publicly Released: Aug 14, 1998.

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Norman J. Rabkin
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Office of Public Affairs
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GAO discussed the: (1) relationships between actual cargo and passenger inspectional personnel levels at selected airports and seaports and those determined by Customs to be appropriate for these ports (assessed levels); and (2) cargo and passenger processing workload-to-inspector ratios at the selected ports.

GAO noted that: (1) over the past 3 years, Customs has assessed the need for additional inspectors to combat drug smuggling through ports along the Southwest border; (2) Customs also uses a quantitative model to estimate the need for inspectional personnel at airports, but not to establish the appropriate personnel levels, according to Customs officials; (3) however, Customs does not have a systematic, agencywide process for assessing the need for inspectional personnel and allocating such personnel to process commercial cargo or land and sea passengers at all of its 301 ports; (4) therefore, GAO was not able to identify the implications of differences between assessed and actual inspectional personnel levels; (5) GAO was also not able to perform the workload-to-inspector ratio analyses because it did not have a sufficient level of confidence in the quality of the workload data; (6) GAO identified a few significant discrepancies in the workload data it obtained from Customs headquarters and the ports it contacted, and it did not identify any systematic controls over the quality of the data; and (7) in addition, workload is only one of several factors Customs has considered in the few assessments completed since 1995; Customs also considers factors such as the smuggling threat at each port and legislative constraints on the movement of certain inspectional positions.

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