U.S. Customs and Border Protection Executive Assistant Commissioner Office of Field Operations Todd Owen and U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost visit the San Ysidro Port of Entry on Dec. 6, 2018. (Mani Albrecht/U.S. Customs and Border Protectio)

CBP Ends Recruitment Contract with Accenture After Hiring Falls Short

Customs and Border Protection ended a contract with Accenture to hire thousands of new agents as the agency struggles to fill the positions promised by President Trump in an executive order at the beginning of his term.

In December, the DHS Office of Inspector General issued a management alert on the Accenture contract performance, stating that CBP’s “corrective actions will be critical to ensuring the contract structure going forward is in the best interest of the government in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.”

Accenture was awarded a $297 million contract in November 2017 with one base year and four option years to hire 7,500 fully qualified applicants for CBP, Border Patrol and Air and Marine Operations. The agreement meant that CBP would pay about $40,000 per hire during the base year — 80 percent upon the applicant accepting the offer and 20 percent once he or she entered duty.

OIG began auditing the contract last July. The office found that “before awarding Accenture the contract, CBP did not ensure the proposed systems and processes, such as applicant tracking, complied with all applicable laws and regulations or could be integrated into its hiring process” and CBP “also did not establish metrics to assess the contractor’s performance and hold the contractor accountable.”

As of Oct. 1, 2018, CBP had paid Accenture about $13.6 million for startup costs, security requirements, recruiting, and applicant support, the report noted, for just two accepted job offers processed by Accenture. CBP contested this finding, telling OIG that “in return for $13.6 million, Accenture has created a hiring structure, tailored technology solutions to support and manage the hiring process, stood up an applicant care center, marketed and recruited thousands of new applicants, and conducted many of the hiring steps for several thousand applicants.”

The same month as the OIG alert, CBP issued a partial stop work order on the contract, stating the agency had “adequate capacity within our government hiring center to process the number of applicants we have.” CBP said it would continue to lean on Accenture for advertising, marketing, data analytics and applicant care.

Axois first reported the contract cancellation per a call with unnamed DHS and Accenture officials, saying that DHS officials said the company had provided 58 accepted job offers by the end of last year.

“The political and economic environment makes it very difficult to compete for the people we need to do these jobs,” one DHS official said.

An Accenture spokesperson told Government Executive, “The contract with CBP was designed to help the client develop a high-quality candidate pipeline by leveraging commercial best practices, using the latest technologies, and developing effective digital marketing and advertising campaigns.”

“In accordance with the contract, Accenture began its work by delivering innovation that is now the foundation for a modern, state-of-the-art recruitment process already serving CBP, and will be a capability they can rely upon for years to come.”

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Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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