A Jacksonville special agent polygrapher interviews a subject. (FBI photo)

OIG Finds Most Complaints About CBP Polygraph Program Ambiguous or Unfounded

The DHS Inspector General found a key control over CBP’s polygraph review and approval process was not always operating as intended although the agency had controls over its polygraph examination process. Specifically, in a small number of cases, the polygraph quality control program may not have always conducted independent and objective reviews (blind reviews) of polygraph examination results as required, OIG said in a July 26 report.

These complaints followed the acute staffing shortage of customs officers at the border. In January, the situation had gotten so dire that screeners from U.S. airports were reassigned to southern Arizona on an emergency basis. U.S. Customs and Border Protection deployed 175 officers to the agency’s Tucson sector through March 2018.

During the audit, CBP addressed OIG’s concerns and updated its quality control procedures. These updated procedures — finalized in September 2017 — require independent and objective quality control reviews.

OIG also determined that 96 percent of the complaints reviewed were unfounded or ambiguous. However, CBP did not have a formal complaint review process, which led to inconsistent and subjective reviews. This approach risks not finding or properly addressing issues contained in the complaints. CBP concurred with both recommendations and implemented recommendations by revising its standard operating procedures to address quality control reviewers conducting an objective review.

CBP is updating policies that will define the polygraph review process and the appropriate actions for responding to complaints.

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Kalyna White is an Assistant Editor at HSToday for Climate Change Security and is the STEM Ambassador to the Board of Directors for Women in Homeland Security. She is the founder of LABUkraine, a non-profit organization that builds computer labs for orphans in Ukraine. Since 2011 she has worked with Women in Homeland Security to encourage middle and high school student to pursue STEM careers by organizing and supporting field trips to STEM missions throughout the homeland security enterprise. She is also President of the University of California, San Diego Pi Beta Phi chapter.

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