GAO Report on CBP

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    BORDER SECURITY

    Additional StepsNeeded to EnsureThat Officers AreFully Trained

    Report to Congressional Requesters

    December 2011

    GAO-12-269

    United States Government Accountability Office

    GAO

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    United States Government Accountability Office

    Highlights ofGAO-12-269, a report tocongressional requesters

    December 2011

    BORDER SECURITY

    Additional Steps Needed to Ensure That OfficersAre Fully Trained

    Why GAO Did This Study

    Recent incidents involving potentialterrorists attempting to enter thecountry highlight the need for a vigilantand well-trained workforce at theborder. U.S. Customs and BorderProtection (CBP), within theDepartment of Homeland Security, isthe lead federal agency in charge ofinspecting travelers and goods for

    admission into the United States.About 20,000 CBP officers play acentral role in ensuring that CBPaccomplishes its mission of securingthe border while also facilitating themovement of millions of legitimatetravelers and billions of dollars ininternational trade. GAO was asked toassess the extent to which CBP has(1) revised its training program fornewly hired CBP officers in accordancewith training standards and(2) identified and addressed thetraining needs of incumbent CBP

    officers. GAO analyzed data anddocumentation related to the agencystraining efforts, such as its covert testprogram and its training records. GAOalso interviewed CBP officials and CBPofficers. This is a public version of asensitive report that GAO issued inOctober 2011. Information CBPdeemed sensitive has been redacted.

    What GAO Recommends

    To improve CBP training efforts, GAOrecommends that the CBPCommissioner evaluate the Back to

    Basics training course; analyze coverttest results; establish a policy fortraining responsibilities, includingoversight of training records; and,conduct a training needs assessment.CBP concurred with therecommendations and is taking stepsto address them.

    What GAO Found

    CBP revised its training program for newly hired CBP officers in accordance withits own training development standards. Consistent with these standards, CBPconvened a team of subject-matter experts to identify and rank the tasks thatnew CBP officers are expected to perform. As a result, the new curriculum wasdesigned to produce a professional law enforcement officer capable of protectingthe homeland from terrorist, criminal, biological and agricultural threats. Inaddition, the curriculum stated that the CBP officer is to draw conclusions andtake appropriate action to identify behavioral indicators displayed by criminals,effectively interview travelers to identify potential threats, identify fraudulentdocuments, and use technology in support of the inspection process.

    CBP has taken some steps to identify and address the training needs of itsincumbent CBP officers, but could do more to ensure that these officers are fullytrained. GAO examined CBPs results of covert tests conducted over more than2 years and found significant weaknesses in the CBP inspection process at theports of entry that were tested. In response to these tests, CBP developed aBack to Basics course in March 2010 for incumbent officers but has no plans toevaluate the effectiveness of the training. Moreover, CBP has not conducted ananalysis of all the possible causes or systemic issues that may be contributing tothe test results. Further evaluation of the training and causes underlying coverttest results could help inform CBP about whether the training is sufficient toaddress the weaknesses identified by the covert tests or if adjustments are

    needed. In addition, CBP offices are responsible for recording their employeestraining records; however, CBP does not have a policy that assigns responsibilityto port management to ensure that their staff enter data into its training recordssystem completely and accurately. A policy outlining the roles and responsibilitiesof offices and positions for training could help clarify which offices and positionsare responsible for identifying and addressing training needs and for holdingthese offices accountable for their responsibilities. Moreover, CBP currently doesnot have reliable training completion records to ensure CBP officers receivedrequired training or other training relevant to their assigned duties. Based onGAOs analysis of training records, more than 4,000 customs officers have notcompleted the immigration fundamentals, immigration law, and agriculturalfundamentals courses, although they were required to complete them during across-training program. According to CBP, the training completion records areincomplete, and it is unlikely that the officers did not complete the required cross-training. Nevertheless, without reliable training records; CBP cannot providereasonable assurance that all customs officers completed the required cross-training. Further, CBP has not conducted a needs assessment that would identifyany gaps between identified critical skills and incumbent officers current skillsand competencies. A needs assessment could enhance CBPs ability to ensureits workforce is training to meet its mission.

    ViewGAO-12-269. For more information,contact Richard M. Stana at (202) 512-8816 orStanaR@gao.gov.

    http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-269http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-269http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-269http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-269http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-269http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-269mailto:StanaR@gao.govmailto:StanaR@gao.govmailto:StanaR@gao.govhttp://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-269http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-269
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    Page i GAO-12-269 Border Security

    Letter 1

    Background 4

    CBP Revised Its Training for Newly Hired CBP Officers Consistent

    with Its Training Standards 11

    CBP Has Taken Steps to Identify and Address Incumbent Officer

    Training Needs but Could Do More to Improve Oversight 16

    Conclusions 25

    Recommendations for Executive Action 26

    Agency Comments and Our Evaluation 26

    Appendix I Customs and Border Protection Officer Staffing Policy and

    Specialized Teams 30

    Appendix II Mandatory and Specialized Courses for CBP Officers 32

    Appendix III Comments from the Department of Homeland Security 35

    Appendix IV GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments 38

    Table

    Table 1: Overview of OTD Training Development Standards 12

    Figures

    Figure 1: Percentage of Legacy Officers In the Workforce, Fiscal

    Year 2004 to July 16, 2011 6Figure 2: National Training Plan Expenditures for CBP Employee

    Training, Fiscal Years 2008 to 2011 (projected) 9

    Figure 3: Overview of Revised Training Program for Newly Hired

    CBP Officers 14

    Figure 4: Key CBP Offices and Positions Involved in Incumbent

    CBP Officer Training 19

    Contents

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    Page ii GAO-12-269 Border Security

    Abbreviations

    CBP Customs and Border ProtectionDHS Department of Homeland SecurityFDAU Fraudulent Document Analysis UnitFLETA Federal Law Enforcement Training AccreditationIA Office of Internal AffairsNTP National Training PlanOFO Office of Field OperationsOPM Office of Personnel ManagementOTD Office of Training and DevelopmentSME subject matter expertTAB Training Advisory BoardTRAEN Training Records and Enrollment Network

    VLC Virtual Learning Center

    This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in theUnited States. The published product may be reproduced and distributed in its entiretywithout further permission from GAO. However, because this work may containcopyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may benecessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately.

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    Page 1 GAO-12-269 Border Security

    United States Government Accountability OfficeWashington, DC 20548

    December 22, 2011

    Congressional Requesters

    The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as well as recent incidentsinvolving potential terrorists attempting to enter the country, highlight theneed for a vigilant and well-trained workforce at the border. Since thecreation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2003, U.S.Customs and Border Protection (CBP)a component within DHSserves as the lead federal agency in charge of inspecting travelers and

    goods entering the United States at air, land, and sea ports of entry.1CBP officers, who number about 20,000, play a central role in carryingout this responsibility. A highly trained CBP officer corps is critical toensure that CBP accomplishes its dual mission of securing the border byrefusing attempted illegal entry to the United States and facilitating thecross-border movement of millions of legitimate travelers and billions ofdollars in international trade. Since the creation of the CBP officer positionin 2003 and the subsequent development of the original CBP officer basictraining curriculum, the role of the CBP officer has involved increasedemphasis on countering threats posed by terrorists and others attemptingto fraudulently enter the country with altered or genuine traveldocuments.2

    In 2007, we reported on vulnerabilities and inefficiencies in travelerinspections, including challenges ports of entry faced in deliveringrequired training to CBP officers.

    As a result, CBP has revised its training to reinforce the law

    enforcement mindset within the CBP officer.

    3

    1CBP consists of the following component offices: the Office of Air and Marine, the Office

    of Border Patrol, and the Office of Field Operations.

    Specifically,