CBP needs stronger guards against internal corruption, GAO says

The Government Accountability Office is recommending that Customs and Border Protection take several measures to fight internal corruption, including possibly polygraphing CBP officers and agents.
GAO made its recommendations following a review of arrests of CBP employees since 2005, including 144 arrested or indicted for corruption and 125 convictions. Most of the allegations of misconduct or corruption have occurred along the southwest border, causing CBP to fret about the impact on agency integrity.
In a report (.pdf) issued Jan. 3, GAO recommended that CBP track information used to reject applicants, consider giving polygraphs to officers and agents, conduct quality-assurance reviews and set deadlines for completing and implementing a comprehensive strategy on integrity.
The Homeland Security Department agreed with the recommendations in the report.
CBP conducts background investigations and polygraphs of applicants, and requires random drug tests and occasional reinvestigations of incumbent personnel. But according to a summary of the report, the agency's Office of Internal Affairs didn't have any way to track which of its screening tools helped them determine which applicants to reject. Without maintaining or tracking such data, the agency is challenged to determine which screening tools are most effective, GAO said.
CBP also was supposed to conduct monthly quality assurance reviews beginning in 2008 to ensure that case adjudicators were following procedures when evaluating the result of pre- and post-employment background investigations. The agency said it had conducted some of the reviews, according to the findings, but couldn't say how many.
"Without these quality assurance checks," the auditors said, "it is difficult for CBP IA to determine the extent to which deficiencies, if any, exist in the adjudication process."
Meanwhile, CBP IA had begun drafting an integrity strategy as called for in the agency's fiscal 2009-2014 strategic plan, but lacked target dates for completing the strategy and putting it into place. The CBP IA assistant commissioner also told GAO of "significant cultural resistance among some CBP components in acknowledging CBP IA's authority for overseeing all integrity-related activities."
DHS has repeatedly been denied requests for 50 additional investigators for its Office of Inspector General to investigate internal corruption in CBP, acting IG Charles Edwards told Congress in August. Complaints against CBP employees have increased 95 percent since fiscal 2004, Edwards said, growing 25 percent increase just from fiscal 2010 to 2011.
For more:
-see report highlights
-download the full report, GAO-13-59 (.pdf)
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