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US Customs CSI Inspection in the Port of Durban, South Africa

US Customs CSI Inspection in the Port of Durban, South Africa

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has not assessed risks at select foreign ports with U.S.-bound shipments since 2005, part of a string of failures that has left key ports without a CBP presence, the Government Accountability Office says. (Hmm, never mind the impact caused to Customs administration in the host countries……)

In examining CBP’s Container Security Initiative program, GAO found that the agency developed a model for ranking additional seaports according to risk in 2009, but never implemented it because of budget cuts, according to the report.

GAO applied that risk model to 2012 cargo shipment data and found that the CSI program had no presence at about half the ports CSP found high risk. Meanwhile, 20 percent of existing CSI program ports were at lower-risk locations, according to the findings (.pdf).

Although GAO acknowledged host countries are not always willing to accommodate a CSI presence, and that removal of a CSI presence can negatively affect diplomatic relations, auditors said periodic assessments of cargo shipped from foreign ports could help CBP better guard against terror-related shipments.

Although there have been no known incidents of cargo containers being used to transport WMD, the maritime supply chain remains vulnerable to attacks. We recognize that it may not be possible to include all of the higher-risk ports in CSI because CSI requires the cooperation of sovereign foreign governments.

To better ensure the effectiveness of the CSI program, GAO recommends that the Secretary of Homeland Security direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to periodically assess the supply chain security risks from all foreign ports that ship cargo to the United States and use the results of these risk assessments to (1) inform any future expansion of CSI to additional locations and (2) determine whether changes need to be made to existing CSI ports and make adjustments as appropriate and feasible.

Such assessments “would help ensure that CBP is allocating its resources to provide the greatest possible coverage of high-risk cargo to best mitigate the risk of importing weapons of mass destruction or other terrorist contraband into the United States through the maritime supply chain,” GAO said.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) concurred with the recommendation and said CBP would complete its first assessment by Aug. 12, 2014. To access or download the GAO Report on CSI, Click Here! Source: US Government Accounting Office

Foreign Ports That CBP Coordinates with Regarding Maritime Container Shipment Examinations, as of July 2013

Foreign Ports That CBP Coordinates with Regarding Maritime Container Shipment Examinations, as of July 2013 (Table: GAO)

 

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A CBP vehicle patrols the border in Arizona in 2010. (Matt York/AP file photo)

A CBP vehicle patrols the border in Arizona in 2010. (Matt York/AP file photo)

Nearly 150 Customs and Border Protection officers were arrested or indicted for corruption over the last eight years, a new report has found. A majority of the officers were stationed along the Southwest border, the Government Accountability Office determined. An additional 2,170 were arrested for misconduct in the same time period. GAO cited CBP’s lack of review and oversight of its employees and monitoring processes as complicit in allowing corruption to fester within the agency. (Readers please bear in mind that CBP has over 50,000 members)

Incidents of corruption included fraud, harboring aliens, selling immigration documents and allowing loads of narcotics through a port or checkpoint. Of the 144 corruption incidents, 103 — more than 70 percent — were considered “mission-compromising.” CBP even reported some instances of “infiltrators” seeking and gaining employment at the agency for the sole purpose of engaging in mission-compromising activity. For example, an officer stationed in El Paso, Texas, was arrested in 2007 for conspiring to import 5,000 pounds of marijuana each month into the United States. Less than 1 percent of arrests for misconduct, however, were related to CBP’s mission.

GAO recommended CBP — part of the Homeland Security Department — better track which pre-employment screens assist in identifying unacceptable job applicants. CBP currently conducts background investigations and polygraph examinations for potential hires, but does not monitor which tactics are the most effective. GAO also suggested CBP assess the feasibility of expanding the polygraph program to include occasional tests for current employees. Additionally, the auditors said the agency should improve the quality assurance of its screenings and set a timetable to complete a comprehensive employee-integrity strategy. CBP concurred with all of GAO’s recommendations, saying while an overwhelming majority of its employees are honest and hardworking, there is little room for error. “Any act of employee corruption interferes with the agency’s mission to secure the nation’s borders against all threats and facilitate legitimate travel and trade,” Jim Crumpacker, DHS’ chief liaison to GAO, wrote in a letter to the auditors. Source: www.govexec.com