Within U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Border Patrol agents are responsible for patrolling international land borders and coastal waters surrounding Florida and Puerto Rico. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has conducted an audit to determine to what extent Border Patrol agents meet workload requirements related to investigative and law enforcement activities in the area.
Our overall concern remains that 8 years after Congress’ 2011 mandate, Border Patrol still lacks the data and procedures needed to determine whether it is meeting workload requirements related to investigative and law enforcement activities. A summary of the Department’s response to our report and our analysis follows.
OIG says this occurred because Border Patrol has not prioritized or assigned adequate resources to develop and implement such a model to guide its hiring and operations. Without a complete workforce staffing model and accurate data, Border Patrol senior managers are unable to definitively determine the operational need or best placement for the 5,000 agents the Department of Homeland Security was directed to hire per a January 2017 Executive Order.
Additionally, the audit found that Border Patrol officials do not consistently schedule agents’ work duties or accurately document actual work hours and duties completed. OIG says these deficiencies occurred due to a lack of standard operating procedures, training, and oversight of the information entered into its Border Patrol Enforcement Tracking System. As a result, Border Patrol may not be deploying existing agents in the most efficient and economical manner.
In fiscal year 2017, Border Patrol agents received approximately $55.2 million for 1.3 million hours of work that had no supporting documentation to show agents were working as needed to fulfill mission requirements.
The OIG is recommending the Under Secretary for Management of DHS ensure CBP and Border Patrol expedite development and implementation of a workforce staffing model for U.S. Border Patrol as required by Congress to better inform staffing and resource deployment decisions.
DHS concurs with the recommendation and notes it has already taken steps to help CBP complete the U.S. Border Patrol workforce staffing model. To improve integration of human capital into the Department’s Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution processes, on October 1, 2018, the Under Secretary realigned the DHS Manpower and Organization function from the DHS Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer to the Program Analysis and Evaluation Division within the DHS Office of the Chief Financial Officer. These two groups are increasing collaboration to ensure human capital requirements are incorporated into program analyses. The Manpower and Organization staff will also task Border Patrol to provide periodic, focused updates on the progress of its workforce staffing model development. The estimated completion date is September 30, 2019.
OIG also recommends the Under Secretary for Management of DHS ensure CBP and Border Patrol develop standard operating procedures for the Border Patrol Enforcement Tracking System (BPETS); train agents on BPETS’ use, capabilities, and purpose; and implement and monitor internal controls for BPETS to ensure timely and accurate scheduling and reporting on agents actual and completed work hours and activities.
DHS concurred with this recommendation, also. The Border Patrol Strategic Planning and Analysis Directorate will develop and implement policies and procedures; train agents on BPETS’ use, capabilities, and purpose; and implement and monitor internal controls for BPETS. In addition, according to the Border Patrol Strategic Planning and Analysis Directorate, it will produce and deploy training on timesheet usage, as well as additional timesheet training at the Academy by January 31, 2019; publish a standard operating procedure for BPETS; push BPETS time and attendance data to CBP’s financial systems of record, called Systems, Applications & Products; and introduce system checks to improve data integrity by April 30, 2019.