oversight

Border Security: Additional Actions Needed to Strengthen CBP Efforts to Mitigate Risk of Employee Corruption and Misconduct

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-12-04.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                United States Government Accountability Office

GAO             Report to Congressional Requesters




                BORDER SECURITY
December 2012




                Additional Actions
                Needed to Strengthen
                CBP Efforts to
                Mitigate Risk of
                Employee Corruption
                and Misconduct




GAO-13-59
                                             December 2012

                                             BORDER SECURITY
                                             Additional Actions Needed to Strengthen CBP
                                             Efforts to Mitigate Risk of Employee Corruption and
                                             Misconduct
Highlights of GAO-13-59, a report to
congressional requesters




Why GAO Did This Study                       What GAO Found
CBP—a component within the                   U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data indicate that arrests of CBP
Department of Homeland Security— is          employees for corruption-related activities since fiscal years 2005 account for
responsible for securing U.S. borders        less than 1 percent of CBP’s entire workforce per fiscal year. The majority of
and facilitating legal travel and trade.     arrests of CBP employees were related to misconduct. There were 2,170
Drug-trafficking and other transnational     reported incidents of arrests for acts of misconduct such as domestic violence or
criminal organizations are seeking to        driving under the influence from fiscal year 2005 through fiscal year 2012, and a
target CBP employees with bribes to          total of 144 current or former CBP employees were arrested or indicted for
facilitate the illicit transport of drugs,   corruption-related activities, such as the smuggling of aliens and drugs, of whom
aliens, and other contraband across
                                             125 have been convicted as of October 2012. Further, the majority of allegations
the southwest U.S. border, in
                                             against CBP employees since fiscal year 2006 occurred at locations along the
particular. CBP IA is responsible for
promoting the integrity of CBP’s
                                             southwest border. CBP officials have stated that they are concerned about the
workforce, programs, and operations;         negative impact that these cases have on agencywide integrity.
and CBP components implement                 CBP employs screening tools to mitigate the risk of employee corruption and
integrity initiatives. GAO was asked to      misconduct for both applicants (e.g., background investigations and polygraph
review CBP’s efforts to ensure the           examinations) and incumbent CBP officers and Border Patrol agents (e.g.,
integrity of its workforce. This report      random drug tests and periodic reinvestigations). However, CBP’s Office of
examines (1) data on arrests of and          Internal Affairs (IA) does not have a mechanism to maintain and track data on
allegations against CBP employees for
                                             which of its screening tools (e.g., background investigation or polygraph
corruption or misconduct, (2) CBP’s
                                             examination) provided the information used to determine which applicants were
implementation of integrity-related
controls, and (3) CBP’s strategy for its     not suitable for hire. Maintaining and tracking such data is consistent with internal
integrity programs. GAO analyzed             control standards and could better position CBP IA to gauge the relative
arrest and allegation data since fiscal      effectiveness of its screening tools. CBP IA is also considering requiring periodic
year 2005 and 2006, respectively,            polygraphs for incumbent officers and agents; however, it has not yet fully
reviewed integrity-related policies and      assessed the feasibility of expanding the program. For example, CBP has not yet
procedures, and interviewed CBP              fully assessed the costs of implementing polygraph examinations on incumbent
officials in headquarters and at four        officers and agents, including costs for additional supervisors and adjudicators,
locations along the southwest border         or factors such as the trade-offs associated with testing incumbent officers and
selected for geographic location,            agents at various frequencies. A feasibility assessment of program expansion
among other factors.                         could better position CBP to determine whether and how to best achieve its goal
                                             of strengthening integrity-related controls for officers and agents. Further, CBP IA
What GAO Recommends                          has not consistently conducted monthly quality assurance reviews of its
GAO recommends that CBP, among               adjudications since 2008, as required by internal policies, to help ensure that
other things, track and maintain data        adjudicators are following procedures in evaluating the results of the
on sources of information used to            preemployment and periodic background investigations. CBP IA officials stated
determine which applicants are               that they have performed some of the required checks since 2008, but they could
unsuitable for hire, assess the              not provide data on how many checks were conducted. Without these quality
feasibility of expanding the polygraph       assurance checks, it is difficult for CBP IA to determine the extent to which
program to incumbent officers and            deficiencies, if any, exist in the adjudication process.
agents, consistently conduct quality
assurance reviews, and set timelines         CBP does not have an integrity strategy, as called for in its Fiscal Year 2009-
for completing and implementing a            2014 Strategic Plan. During the course of our review, CBP IA began drafting a
comprehensive integrity strategy. DHS        strategy, but CBP IA’s Assistant Commissioner stated the agency has not set
concurred and reported taking steps to       target timelines for completing and implementing this strategy. Moreover, he
address the recommendations.                 stated that there has been significant cultural resistance among some CBP
                                             components in acknowledging CBP IA’s authority for overseeing all integrity-
View GAO-13-59. For more information,
contact Rebecca Gambler at (202) 512-8777    related activities. Setting target timelines is consistent with program management
or gamblerr@gao.gov.                         standards and could help CBP monitor progress made toward the development
                                             and implementation of an agencywide strategy.
                                                                                      United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                    1
               Background                                                                 5
               The Majority of Arrests Against CBP Employees Are Related to
                 Misconduct; Majority of Allegations Occurred At Locations
                 Along the Southwest Border                                               8
               CBP Has Implemented Integrity-Related Controls, but Could Better
                 Assess Screening Tools for Applicants and Incumbent
                 Employees                                                              14
               An Agencywide Strategy and Lessons Learned Analyses Could Help
                 Guide CBP Integrity-Related Efforts                                    28
               Conclusions                                                              33
               Recommendations for Executive Action                                     33
               Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                       34

Appendix I     Scope and Methodology                                                    36



Appendix II    Comments from the Department of Homeland Security                        39



Appendix III   GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                    43



Tables
               Table 1: CBP’s Definitions and Examples of Misconduct and
                        Corruption                                                        9
               Table 2: Number of CBP Employees Arrested or Indicted for
                        Corruption-Related Activities, Fiscal Years 2005 through
                        2012                                                            10
               Table 3: Number of Incidents of Arrests of CBP Employees for
                        Misconduct, Fiscal Years 2005 through 2012                      10
               Table 4: Overview of Classes of Allegations of Corruption or
                        Misconduct                                                      12
               Table 5: Total Allegations Compared with Total Number of CBPOs
                        and BPAs, Fiscal Years 2006-2011                                13
               Table 6: Technical Results of Polygraph Examinations, January
                        2008 to August 2012                                             17
               Table 7: Key OFO and USBP Integrity-Related Controls                     25




               Page i                                       GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
Figure
         Figure 1: CBPO and BPA Workforce Population Data, Fiscal Years
                  2006-2011                                                                        7




         Abbreviations
         AMSCO        Analytical Management Systems and Control Office
         BI           background investigation
         BPA          U.S. Border Patrol agent
         CAD          Credibility Assessment Division
         CBP          U.S. Customs and Border Protection
         CBPO         U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer
         DHS          Department of Homeland Security
         IA           Office of Internal Affairs
         IPCC         Integrity Integrated Planning and Coordination Committee
         ISMS         Integrated Security Management System
         JIC          Joint Intake Center
         OFO          Office of Field Operations
         OPM          Office of Personnel Management
         PSD          Personnel Security Division
         SSBI         single scope background investigation
         USBP         U.S. Border Patrol


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         Page ii                                                 GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   December 4, 2012

                                   The Honorable Tom Coburn
                                   Ranking Member, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
                                   Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
                                   United States Senate

                                   The Honorable Michael T. McCaul
                                   Chairman
                                   Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management
                                   Committee on Homeland Security
                                   House of Representatives

                                   Drug-trafficking and other transnational criminal organizations have
                                   increasingly sought to target U.S. law enforcement personnel with bribes
                                   and other inducements to facilitate their illicit transport of drugs, aliens,
                                   and other contraband across the U.S. southwest border. 1 U.S. Customs
                                   and Border Protection (CBP), within the Department of Homeland
                                   Security (DHS), is responsible for securing U.S. borders and facilitating
                                   legal travel and trade. Specifically, officers from CBP’s Office of Field
                                   Operations (OFO) 2 are responsible for securing the border at U.S. ports
                                   of entry, while CBP’s U.S. Border Patrol agents (BPA) are responsible for
                                   securing the national border between the ports of entry. 3 CBP’s Office of
                                   Internal Affairs (IA) is responsible for promoting the integrity of CBP’s
                                   workforce, programs, and operations. For the purposes of our report,
                                   integrity issues include acts of corruption such as accepting cash bribes
                                   and other gratuities in return for allowing contraband or inadmissible




                                   1
                                    The southwest U.S. border includes areas within the states of Arizona, California, New
                                   Mexico, and Texas.
                                   2
                                    OFO, which is headed by an Assistant Commissioner, oversees nearly 28,000
                                   employees who are responsible for providing security at U.S. ports of entry. A port of entry
                                   is a location by which individuals and merchandise may seek legal entry into the United
                                   States. There are 329 air, sea, and land ports in the United States; there are 25 land
                                   ports, in particular, along the southwest border.
                                   3
                                    Officers and agents are responsible for apprehending individuals attempting to enter the
                                   United States illegally and stemming the flow of illegal drugs and other illicit contraband
                                   across the border, among other things.



                                   Page 1                                                   GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
aliens into the country, as well as other criminal activities or misconduct
such as drug or alcohol abuse. 4

DHS officials have testified that CBP’s increased hiring of officers and
agents since fiscal year 2006 has amplified the incentives and
opportunities for attempted corruption of the CBP workforce through
bribery, infiltration, or other means. 5 From fiscal years 2006 through 2011,
the number of CBP officers (CBPOs) and BPAs along the southwest
border increased from 15,792 to 24,057. Moreover, DHS officials have
stated that drug-trafficking organizations are attempting to infiltrate the
CBP workforce through conspired hiring operations and aggressive
targeting of incumbent CBPOs and BPAs. In fiscal year 2012, CBP
allocated approximately $166 million for integrity programs.

You asked us to review CBP’s efforts to ensure the integrity of its
workforce, and particularly for CBPOs and BPAs stationed along the
southwest U.S. border. This report examines (1) data on arrests of and
allegations against CBP employees accused of corruption or misconduct-
related activities, (2) CBP’s implementation of integrity-related controls to
prevent and detect employee corruption and misconduct, and (3) CBP’s
strategy for implementing its integrity programs.

To examine data on arrests of and allegations against CBP employees
accused of corruption or misconduct issues, we analyzed data on 144
CBP employees arrested or indicted from fiscal years 2005 through fiscal
year 2012 for alleged corruption activities. We also analyzed data on


4
 We developed this definition on the basis of an analysis of data and documentation from
CBP IA, as well as through interviews with CBP IA and law enforcement officials who
investigate allegations of employee misconduct and corruption. We also discussed our
definition with these officials to ensure that it was a reasonable interpretation and
consistent with CBP policy.
5
 See Statement of Alan Bersin, Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection,
before the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery and Intergovernmental Affairs,
Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Washington, D.C.:
June 9, 2011, and Statement of Charles K. Edwards, Acting Inspector General,
Department of Homeland Security, before the Subcommittee on Government
Organization, Efficiency, and Financial Management, Committee on Oversight and
Government Report, House of Representatives. Washington, D.C.: Aug. 1, 2012.
Statement of James F. Tomsheck, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Internal Affairs, U.S.
Customs and Border Protection, before the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on State, Local and
Sector Preparedness and Integration, Committee on Homeland Security and
Governmental Affairs, Senate. Washington, D.C.:Mar. 11, 2010.




Page 2                                                 GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
allegations of corruption and misconduct made against CBP employees
from fiscal years 2006 through 2011. 6 For both arrest and allegation data,
these are the time periods for which the most complete and reliable data
were available. In particular, we analyzed variations in both sets of data
across CBP components and geographic regions. To assess the reliability
of these data, we (1) performed electronic data testing and looked for
obvious errors in accuracy and completeness, and (2) interviewed agency
officials knowledgeable about these data to determine the processes in
place to ensure their accuracy. In addition, we interviewed CBP officials
to gain their perspectives on these data. We determined that the data
were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this report.

To evaluate CBP’s implementation of integrity-related controls to prevent
and detect employee misconduct and corruption, we analyzed relevant
laws such as the Anti-Border Corruption Act of 2010, which requires, by
January 2013, that all CBPO and BPA applicants receive polygraph
examinations before they are hired. 7 We also reviewed documentation on
CBP’s preemployment screening practices and their results—including
background investigations and polygraph examinations—and relevant
data and documentation on the random drug testing program and the
periodic reinvestigation process for incumbent officers and agents. In
particular, we evaluated CBP IA data on the technical results of polygraph
examinations from January 2008 through August 2012. 8 To assess the
reliability of these data, we (1) performed electronic data testing and
looked for obvious errors in accuracy and completeness and (2)
interviewed agency officials knowledgeable about these data to determine
the processes in place to ensure their accuracy. We determined that
these data were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this report. In
addition, we examined CBP IA’s quality assurance program for its




6
 These data on allegations include what is available through CBP’s Joint Intake Center
(JIC), which is a central clearinghouse for allegations of misconduct involving personnel
and contractors employed by CBP. Allegations reported to the DHS Office of Inspector
General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or other law enforcement agencies may not
be represented in JIC’s data. According to CBP IA officials, if they become aware of an
allegation against a CBP employee from another source, they create a record in JIC for
tracking purposes.
7
Pub. L. No. 111-376, § 3, 124 Stat. 4104, 4104-05 (2011).
8
 CBP began conducting polygraph examinations for some CBP employees in January
2008.




Page 3                                                  GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
Personnel Security Division (PSD), 9 including interviewing PSD officials
who are responsible for deciding whether an applicant or incumbent
officer or agent is suitable for hire or continued employment. 10 We
compared CBP’s integrity-related controls, as applicable, with standards
in Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government 11 and
standard practices from the Project Management Institute. 12 Furthermore,
we conducted visits to four locations along the southwest U.S. border to
observe the implementation of various integrity-related controls and
obtain perspectives from CBP officials at these locations on the
implementation of integrity-related controls. 13 We selected these locations
on the basis of a variety of factors, including the colocation of CBP IA with
OFO offices and U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) sectors along the southwest
border and the number of allegations against or arrests of CBP
employees for corruption or misconduct. 14 Because we selected a
nonprobability sample of locations to visit, the information we obtained
from these visits cannot be generalized to all field locations. However,
observations obtained from these visits provided us with a greater
understanding of CBP’s integrity-related initiatives.

To evaluate CBP’s integrity strategy, including how the agency
incorporates lessons learned from prior misconduct and corruption cases,
we reviewed CBP strategic planning documents and other policy


9
 PSD, within CBP IA, manages the personnel security and suitability program by initiating
and adjudicating preemployment investigations for CBP applicants and contractors. PSD
also conducts and adjudicates periodic reinvestigations and issues security clearances for
CBP employees.
10
  With a favorable suitability determination, an applicant can be hired, if all other
requirements are met. The suitability determination is a process that subjects applicants’
and employees’ personal conduct to evaluation throughout their careers. Title 5, Code of
Federal Regulations Part 731, establishes factors that are used to make a determination
of suitability.
11
  GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1
(Washington, D.C.: November 1999).
12
 Project Management Institute, The Standard for Program Management, second edition
© (Newton Square, Pa., 2006, updated 2008).
13
  We conducted site visits in El Paso, Texas; Laredo, Texas; San Diego, California; and,
Tucson, Arizona.
14
  Border Patrol sectors are further divided into stations, and each station is responsible for
operations within a specific area of the sector. There are nine sectors along the southwest
border.




Page 4                                                    GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
             statements on integrity initiatives. In particular, we analyzed these
             documents against the requirements set forth in CBP’s Fiscal Year 2009-
             2014 Strategic Plan. 15 In addition, we analyzed all available
             postcorruption analyses reports, which identify deficiencies that may have
             enabled CBP employees to engage in corruption-related activities,
             against OFO and USBP program requirements. We interviewed CBP
             officials in Washington, D.C., as well as during our site visits, regarding
             CBP’s integrity strategy and the extent to which CBP is using lessons
             learned from prior corruption and misconduct cases to guide changes in
             policies and procedures, as appropriate.

             We conducted this performance audit from December 2011 to December
             2012, in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
             standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to
             obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for
             our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe
             that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings
             and conclusions based on our audit objectives. Appendix I presents more
             details about our scope and methodology.


             CBP is the largest uniformed law enforcement agency in the United
Background   States, with approximately 21,400 BPAs patrolling between the nation’s
             ports of entry and more than 20,000 CBPOs stationed at air, land, and
             seaports nationwide at the end of fiscal year 2011. 16 On the U.S.
             southwest border, there are about 5,500 CBPOs and 18,000 BPAs as of
             the end of fiscal year 2011. CBPOs, based within OFO, are responsible
             for processing immigration documentation of passengers and pedestrians
             and inspecting vehicles and cargo at U.S. ports of entry. BPAs are based
             within the USBP and are responsible for enforcing immigration laws
             across the territory in between the ports of entry and at checkpoints
             located inside the U.S. border. Together, CBPOs and BPAs are



             15
               U.S.Customs and Border Protection. Secure Borders, Safe Travel, Legal Trade: U.S.
             Customs and Border Protection Fiscal Year 2009-2014 Strategic Plan. Washington, D.C.:
             July 2009.
             16
               In fiscal years 2011 and 2012, appropriations acts provided that Border Patrol was to
             maintain an active duty presence of not less than 21,370 agents protecting the border of
             the United States. Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act,
             2011, div. B, tit. VI, § 1608, Pub. L. No. 112-10, 125 Stat. 38, 140; Consolidated
             Appropriations Act, 2012, div. D, tit. II, Pub. L. No. 112-74, 125 Stat. 786, 945-46 (2011).




             Page 5                                                    GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
                           responsible for detecting and preventing the illegal entry of persons and
                           contraband, including terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, across
                           the border.


Hiring Process for CBPOs   U.S. citizens interested in becoming CBPOs or BPAs must successfully
and BPAs                   complete all steps of the CBP hiring process, which includes an online
                           application, a cognitive exam, fingerprint collection, financial disclosure, a
                           structured interview, fitness tests, medical examinations, a polygraph
                           examination, a background investigation, and a drug test. CBP IA’s PSD
                           manages the personnel security program by initiating and adjudicating
                           preemployment investigations for CBP applicants, which aim to ensure
                           that the candidates are reliable, trustworthy, and loyal to the United
                           States, and therefore suitable for employment. In addition, CBP IA’s
                           Credibility Assessment Division (CAD) is responsible for administering the
                           polygraph examinations, interviewing applicants, and collecting any
                           admissions that an applicant may reveal including past criminal behavior
                           or misconduct. Human Resource Management is responsible for making
                           the hiring decisions based on the final suitability determination from CBP
                           IA (this includes PSD’s overall assessment of the polygraph examination
                           and background investigation), as well as the applicant’s successful
                           completion of the other steps in the hiring process.

                           The number of CBP employees increased from 43,545 in fiscal year 2006
                           to 60,591 as of August 2012. During this time period, both OFO and
                           USBP experienced a hiring surge and received increased appropriations
                           to fund additional hiring of CBPOs and BPAs. 17 The majority of the newly
                           hired CBPOs and BPAs were assigned to the southwest border. In
                           particular, during this time period, their total numbers along the southwest
                           border increased from 15,792 to 24,057. As of fiscal year 2011, 57



                           17
                              For example, CBP received funds to support 1,000 additional Border Patrol agents in
                           fiscal year 2006, 1,500 in fiscal year 2007, 3,000 in fiscal year 2008, and 1,100 in fiscal
                           year 2010, among other increases. CBP also received funds for an additional 450 CBP
                           officers in fiscal year 2007, 200 in fiscal year 2008, and 859 in fiscal year 2009, among
                           other increases. See H.R. Rep. No. 109-241, at 41-42 (2005) (Conf. Rep.); H.R. Rep. No.
                           106-699, at 125, 128 (2006) (Conf. Rep.); Explanatory Statement, Consolidated
                           Appropriations Act, 2008, bk. 1, div. E., at 1028 (2008); Explanatory Statement,
                           Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009, div.
                           D, at 627 (2008); H.R. Rep. No. 111-151, at 110 (2009) (Conf. Rep.); H.R. Rep. No. 111-
                           298, at 62-63 (2009) (Conf. Rep.); Pub. L. No. 111-230, tit. I, 124 Stat. 2485, 2485 (2010);
                           H.R. Rep. No. 112-331, at 956-57 (2011) (Conf. Rep.).




                           Page 6                                                   GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
                                       percent of the CBPOs and BPA were stationed along the southwest
                                       border. Figure 1 provides additional details.

Figure 1: CBPO and BPA Workforce Population Data, Fiscal Years 2006-2011




Process for Reporting                  Allegations against CBP employees for misconduct, corruption, or other
Allegations against CBP                issues can be reported through various mechanisms. CBP IA, in
Employees                              partnership with the Office of Professional Responsibility—an office within
                                       DHS’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—accepts allegations
                                       through the Joint Intake Center (JIC). JIC is CBP’s central clearinghouse
                                       for receiving, processing, and tracking all allegations of misconduct
                                       involving personnel and contractors employed by CBP. Staffed jointly by
                                       CBP IA and the Office of Professional Responsibility, JIC is responsible
                                       for receiving, documenting, and routing misconduct allegations to the
                                       appropriate investigative entity for review to determine whether the
                                       allegation can be substantiated. CBP employees or the general public
                                       may report allegations to JIC’s hotline by e-mail or telephone, to local
                                       CBP IA field offices, the DHS Office of Inspector General, or the other law



                                       Page 7                                        GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
                             enforcement agencies. Anonymous allegations are also received,
                             documented, and subjected to further inquiry.


                             According to CBP’s data, incidents of arrests of CBP employees from
The Majority of              fiscal years 2005 through 2012 represent less than 1 percent of the entire
Arrests against CBP          CBP workforce per fiscal year. 18 During this time period, 144 current or
                             former CBP employees were arrested or indicted for corruption—the
Employees Are                majority of which were stationed along the southwest border. In addition,
Related to                   there were 2,170 reported incidents of arrests for misconduct. 19
Misconduct; Majority         Allegations against CBPOs and BPAs as a percentage of total on-board
                             personnel remained relatively constant from fiscal years 2006 through
of Allegations               2011 and ranged from serious offenses such as facilitating drug
Occurred at Locations        smuggling across the border to administrative delinquencies such as
                             losing an official badge. The majority of allegations made against OFO
along the Southwest          and USBP employees during this time period were against officers and
Border                       agents stationed on the southwest U.S. border.


The Majority of Arrests of   CBP data indicate that from fiscal year 2005 through fiscal year 2012, the
CBP Employees since          majority of arrests since fiscal year 2005 are related to alleged
Fiscal Year 2005 Are         misconduct activities. A total of 144 current or former CBP employees
                             were arrested or indicted for corruption. In addition, there were 2,170
Related to Alleged           reported incidents of arrests for misconduct. In both cases, each
Misconduct Activities        represents less than 1 percent of the entire CBP workforce per fiscal
                             year. Specifically, in fiscal year 2005, out of 42,409 CBP employees, 27
                             were arrested or indicted for corruption. In addition, during this time
                             period, there were 190 reported incidents of arrests for misconduct. As of
                             August 2012, when CBP’s workforce increased to 60,591, 11 CBP
                             employees were arrested or indicted for corruption, and there were 336
                             reported incidents of arrests for misconduct. CBP IA defines delinquent


                             18
                               CBP collects data on incidents of arrests, indictments, citations, and detainments; for
                             purposes of brevity, we refer to all four categories as “incidents of arrests.” According to
                             CBP IA officials, the term “detainments” refers to instances such as those where
                             individuals are intoxicated in public and detained at local facilities until they become sober
                             but do not have an arrest on their record.
                             19
                               CBP does not count the number of employees who have been arrested for misconduct,
                             but rather counts the number of incidents of arrests for misconduct (i.e. one employee
                             may have multiple incidents of arrests for misconduct). For corruption, we have reported
                             the number of employees arrested or indicted for corruption-related activities. Not all
                             arrests result in convictions or disciplinary actions.




                             Page 8                                                     GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
                                             activity as either corruption or misconduct. Corruption involves the misuse
                                             or abuse of the employee’s position, whereas misconduct may not
                                             necessarily involve delinquent behavior that is related to the execution of
                                             official duties. CBP further categorizes the delinquent behavior into the
                                             following categories: (1) non-mission-compromising misconduct, (2)
                                             mission-related misconduct, (3) corruption, and (4) mission-compromising
                                             corruption. The first category is the only one that is unrelated to the
                                             execution of the CBP employee’s official duties or authority, and the
                                             majority of the incidents of arrests for misconduct (2,153 out of 2,170)
                                             since fiscal year 2005 fall in this category. Examples include domestic
                                             violence and driving under the influence while off duty. Table 1 provides
                                             CBP IA’s definitions of the two types of delinquent activity and examples
                                             of each category.

Table 1: CBP’s Definitions and Examples of Misconduct and Corruption

                          Misconduct                                                                     Corruption
Non-mission-compromising          Mission-related misconduct                  Corruption                          Mission-compromising
misconduct                        Delinquency related to the                  Delinquency for personal gain       corruption
Delinquency unrelated to the      execution of official duties or             that involved the misuse or         Delinquency for personal gain
execution of official duties or   one’s official authority as a               abuse of the knowledge, access,     that involved the misuse or
one’s official authority as a     federal law enforcement                     or authority granted by virtue of   abuse of the knowledge,
federal law enforcement officer   officer                                     official position                   access, or authority granted by
                                                                                                                  virtue of official position which
                                                                                                                  also violated or facilitated the
                                                                                                                  violation of the laws that CBP
                                                                                                                  enforces
•   Driving under the             •    Civil rights violations                •     Theft of government           •   Alien harboring
    influence/driving while       •    False imprisonment                           property /funds               •   Allowing loads of
    intoxicated                                                               •     Fraud                             narcotics through a port of
•   Domestic violence                                                         •     Querying personal                 entry or checkpoint
                                                                                    associates in a government    •   Selling immigration
                                                                                    database                          documents
                                             Source: GAO analysis of CBP documentation.


                                             From fiscal years 2005 through 2012, a total of 144 employees were
                                             arrested or indicted for corruption-related activities, including the
                                             smuggling of aliens or drugs, and 125 have been convicted. 20 About 65
                                             percent (93 of 144 arrests) were employees stationed along the



                                             20
                                               As of October 2012, 9 were acquitted or had their cases dismissed, 2 were declined for
                                             prosecution, and 8 cases were pending or in pretrial diversion. Of the 125 convictions, 109
                                             were the result of guilty pleas.




                                             Page 9                                                           GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
                                         southwest border. Our review of documentation on these cases indicates
                                         that 103 of the 144 cases were for mission-compromising corruption
                                         activities, which are the most severe offenses, such as drug or alien
                                         smuggling, bribery, and allowing illegal cargo into the United States.
                                         Forty-one of the 144 CBP employees arrested or indicted were charged
                                         with other corruption-related activities. According to CBP IA, this category
                                         is less severe than mission-compromising corruption and includes
                                         offenses such as the theft of government property and querying personal
                                         associates in a government database for purposes other than official
                                         business. Table 2 provides a breakdown of these arrests by fiscal year.

Table 2: Number of CBP Employees Arrested or Indicted for Corruption-Related Activities, Fiscal Years 2005 through 2012

 Fiscal year                          2005        2006          2007            2008      2009         2010            2011          2012        Total
Mission-compromising corruption         23           11              8            18        19              8           10              6         103
Corruption                               4             3             0             3        10             10             5             6          41
Corruption subtotal                     27           14              8            21        29             18           15             12         144
CBP workforce population          42,409       43,545        47,606         52,543       58,600      58,724       59,820            60,591
(as of August 2012)
                                         Source: GAO analysis of CBP IA data.

                                         Note: Data on CBP employee arrests or indictments are from fiscal year 2005 through 2012. Data on
                                         the CBP workforce population for fiscal year 2012 are as of August 2012.


                                         Table 3 outlines the number of incidents of arrests of CBP employees for
                                         misconduct for fiscal years 2005 through 2012.

Table 3: Number of Incidents of Arrests of CBP Employees for Misconduct, Fiscal Years 2005 through 2012

 Fiscal year                                     2005          2006             2007    2008       2009         2010      2011         2012      Total
Mission-related misconduct                             2             1             1       1          3            1            6            2     17
Non-mission compromising misconduct                188           227             225     285        290          303          301       334      2,153
Misconduct subtotal                                190           228             226     286        293          304          307       336      2,170
CBP workforce population                       42,409        43,545       47,606       52,543     58,600    58,724      59,820       60,591
(as of August 2012)
                                         Source: GAO analysis of CBP IA data.

                                         Note: Data on the number of incidents of arrests of CBP employees are from fiscal year 2005 through
                                         2012. Data on the CBP workforce population for fiscal year 2012 are as of August 2012.


                                         Although the total number of corruption convictions (125) is less than 1
                                         percent when compared with CBP’s workforce population by fiscal year,
                                         CBP officials stated that they are concerned about the negative impact
                                         employee corruption cases have on agencywide integrity. For example,



                                         Page 10                                                                GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
the Acting Commissioner of CBP testified that no act of corruption within
the agency can or will be tolerated and that acts of corruption
compromise CBP’s ability to achieve its mission to secure America’s
borders against all threats while facilitating and expediting legal travel and
trade. 21 In particular, there have been a number of cases in which
individuals, known as infiltrators, pursued employment at CBP solely to
engage in mission-compromising activity. For example, in 2007, a CBPO
in El Paso, Texas, was arrested at her duty station at the Paso Del Norte
Bridge for conspiracy to import marijuana into the United States from
June 2003 to July 2007, and was later convicted and sentenced to 20
years in prison. OFO reported that she may have sought employment
with CBP to facilitate drug smuggling. CBP officials view this case as an
example of the potential impact of corruption—if the officer had
succeeded in facilitating the importation of 5,000 pounds of marijuana per
month, this would amount to a total of 240,000 pounds over 4 years with
a retail value of $288 million dollars. In another case, a former BPA
previously stationed in Comstock, Texas, was arrested in 2008 for
conspiracy to possess, with intent to distribute, more than 1,000
kilograms of marijuana. The agent was convicted in 2009 and sentenced
to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. CBP is also
concerned about employees who may not be infiltrators, but began
engaging in corruption-related activities after joining the agency. For
example, CBP IA officials stated that some employees may have
experienced personal hardships after being hired, such as financial
challenges, which made them vulnerable to accepting bribes to engage in
corrupt activity. In addition, some employees arrested for corruption had
no prior disciplinary actions at the time of their arrests.




21
  See Statement of David Aguilar, Acting Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border
Protection, before the Subcommittee on Government Organization, Efficiency, and
Financial Management, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, U.S. House of
Representatives. Washington, D.C.: Aug. 1, 2012.




Page 11                                            GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
Allegations against CBPOs                 According to our analysis of CBP data, from fiscal years 2006 through
and BPAs as a Percentage                  2011, a total of 32,290 allegations were made against CBP employees;
                                          90 percent (29,204) were made against CBPOs and BPAs. 22 CBP IA
of Total Onboard
                                          categorizes allegations of misconduct or corruption by varying levels of
Personnel Remained                        severity. For example, allegations may range from serious offenses such
Relatively Constant from                  as facilitating drug smuggling across the border to administrative
Fiscal Years 2006 through                 delinquencies such as losing a badge. CBP allegations of corruption or
2011                                      misconduct are sorted into differing classes depending on the severity of
                                          the allegation and whether there is potential for federal prosecution. As
                                          table 4 indicates, class 1 allegations comprise the more severe
                                          allegations that could lead to federal prosecution, such as drug smuggling
                                          or bribery, with classes 2, 3, and 4 representing decreasing levels of
                                          severity.

Table 4: Overview of Classes of Allegations of Corruption or Misconduct

                                                        Classes of allegations
Class 1                           Class 2                                              Class 3                      Class 4
Criminal                          Other criminal or                                    Lesser administrative        Information for
(potential federal prosecution)   serious misconduct                                   violation                    management
Examples:                         Examples:                               Examples:                   Examples:
•  Drug smuggling                 •  Conflict of interest-association     •  Misuse of credentials/   •  Lost badge/credential
•  Alien smuggling                   with known criminals/iIllegal aliens    position                    (first offense)
•  Perjury                        •  Detainee/alien abuse (sexual or      •  Misuse of government     •  Arrest/conviction of
                                     physical)                               database (e.g., querying    family member
•  Bribery                                                                   personal associates)
                                  •  Driving under the influence/driving
                                     while intoxicated
                                  •  Domestic violence
                                          Source: GAO analysis of CBP documentation.

                                          Note: Allegations may be reclassified if new information develops during the review of an allegation
                                          (e.g., smuggling of a very small amount of drugs may result in a class 2 rather than a class 1
                                          allegation).


                                          Information for management may include notifications such as reporting a
                                          lost badge or an arrest of an employee’s family member. CBP
                                          management will take this information into consideration but may



                                          22
                                            We analyzed allegation data provided by the JIC—CBP’s central clearinghouse for
                                          receiving, processing, and tracking all allegations of misconduct involving personnel and
                                          contractors employed by CBP. Allegations reported to the DHS Office of Inspector
                                          General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or other law enforcement agencies may not
                                          be represented in the data that ar collected by JIC.




                                          Page 12                                                              GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
determine that the action does not warrant referring the case for further
disciplinary action.

Table 5 depicts the number of allegations against CBPOs and BPAs from
fiscal years 2006 through 2011. Allegations made against OFO and BP
employees as a percentage of the total OFO and USBP workforce
remained constant from 12 percent to 14 percent over fiscal years 2006
to 2011.

Table 5: Total Allegations Compared with Total Number of CBPOs and BPAs, Fiscal
Years 2006-2011

                                        2006     2007     2008      2009      2010     2011
 Allegations against CBPOs              3,554    4,343    4,459    5,352     5,746     5,750
 and BPAs
 CBPOs and BPAs                        30,380   33,377   37,275   41,458    41,245   42,026
 onboard
 Percentage of allegations                12       13       12        13        14       14
 per number of CBPOs and
 BPAs
 (rounded)
Source: GAO analysis of CBP IA data.


Similar to the arrest data, of the total number of allegations made against
OFO and USBP employees from fiscal year 2006 to fiscal year 2011—
29,204 total allegations—the majority of these allegations were made
against officers and agents stationed on the southwest U.S. border.
Specifically, there were approximately 19,905 total allegations against
CBPOs and BPAs stationed on the southwest border—about 68 percent
of total allegations. Approximately 57 percent of all CBPOs and BPAs are
stationed along the southwest border. By comparison, during this time
period, there were 9,299 allegations made against officers and agents
across the rest of CBP’s ports of entry and sectors. According to a senior
CBP IA official who is responsible for tracking and maintaining CBP
allegations data, it is possible that the southwest border region received
more allegations, in part, because CBP assigned more employees to the
region, many of whom were new, relatively less experienced agents from
the hiring increases from fiscal years 2006 through 2011, or were
employees on detail to the southwest border region. During this same
period, the number of officers and agents and BPAs along the southwest
border increased from 15,792 to 24,057. In addition, in each fiscal year
from 2006 through 2011, more allegations were made against USBP
employees than OFO employees along the southwest border—



Page 13                                                      GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
                      allegations against BPAs were about 32 percent higher, on average, than
                      those against CBPOs.


                      CBP employs integrity-related controls to mitigate the risk of corruption
CBP Has               and misconduct for both applicants and incumbent officers and agents,
Implemented           such as polygraph examinations and random drug testing, respectively.
                      However, CBP does not maintain or track data on which screening tools
Integrity-Related     provided the information that contributed to applicants being deemed
Controls, but Could   unsuitable for hire, making it difficult for CBP to assess the relative
                      effectiveness of these screening tools. In addition, an assessment of the
Better Assess         feasibility of expanding the polygraph program to incumbent officers and
Screening Tools for   agents, and consistent implementation of its quality assurance review
                      program for background investigations and periodic reinvestigations,
Applicants and        could strengthen CBP’s integrity-related controls. OFO and USBP have
Incumbent Employees   also implemented controls to help detect and prevent corruption and
                      misconduct; however, additional actions could help improve the
                      effectiveness of OFO’s integrity officers.




                      Page 14                                       GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
CBP Employs Controls to       CBP has two key controls to screen applicants for CBPO and BPA
Mitigate the Risk of Hiring   positions during the hiring process—background investigations and
Potentially Corrupt           polygraph examinations. Background investigations involve, among other
                              things, a personal interview; a 10-year background check; and an
Officers and Agents, but      examination of an applicant’s criminal, credit, and financial history,
Does Not Track Data That      according to Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations. 23
Can Help Determine the        Polygraph examinations consist of a preinterview, the examination, and a
Relative Effectiveness of     postexamination interview. The Anti-Border Corruption Act of 2010
                              requires that, as of January 2013, all CBPO and BPA applicants receive
Screening Tools               polygraph examinations before they are hired. 24 CBP IA officials stated
                              that the agency met the mandated polygraph requirement in October
                              2012—90 days before the deadline.

                              PSD considers multiple factors, or a combination thereof, to determine
                              whether an applicant is suitable for employment. PSD officials stated that
                              suitability determinations are based on three adjudication phases: (1)
                              after PSD verifies that each applicant’s forms are complete and conducts
                              preliminary law enforcement database and credit checks, (2) after CAD
                              reports the technical results of the polygraph examinations to PSD, and
                              (3) after the completion of the background investigation. 25 PSD is
                              responsible for adjudicating the final polygraph examination results, as



                              23
                                On the basis of the sensitivity of the position for which an individual is applying, CBP
                              IA’s personnel security officials initiate either a single scope background investigation or a
                              background investigation. The single scope background investigation is required for
                              positions designated as Critical Sensitive National Security. It covers up to 10 years and
                              includes a personal interview and review of the following: employment history, education,
                              residences, references, local law enforcement records, court records, records of former
                              spouse(s), records of spouse or current cohabitant, credit records, and other law
                              enforcement and military records, as applicable. The background investigation is a review
                              of up to 5 years and consists of a personal interview and an examination of the same
                              documents as the single scope background investigation. OPM has delegated authority to
                              CBP to conduct background investigations and make employment suitability
                              determinations for all CBP applicants, contractors, and employees. OPM derives its
                              authority to conduct background investigations from the Executive Order 10450; Executive
                              Order 12968; and Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, parts 731, 732, and 736.
                              24
                                Pub. L. No. 111-376, § 3, 124 Stat. 4104, 4104-05 (2011).
                              25
                                Historically, CAD initiated the examinations after the background investigations were
                              completed. As of June 2012, CBP began administering polygraph examinations to all new
                              applicants before background investigations are initiated to help rule out unsuitable
                              candidates before expending additional PSD time and resources on costly background
                              investigations. According to CBP IA, the average cost of a polygraph examination is $800,
                              whereas the average cost of a background investigation is about $3,000.




                              Page 15                                                   GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
well as reviewing any other information that may be used in determining
whether or not applicants are suitable for employment. If, after the final
adjudication, there is no derogatory information affecting an applicant’s
suitability, PSD forwards the final favorable adjudication decision to
Human Resources Management, which completes the remainder of the
required steps in the hiring process.
Regarding polygraph examinations, CAD has maintained data on the
number of polygraph examinations that it administers and the technical
results of those examinations since January 2008. 26 CAD officials stated
that an applicant technically fails the polygraph examination by receiving
a “significant response” on the test or using countermeasures to deceive
the test, which is an indicator of deception and results in PSD making a
determination that an applicant is unsuitable for hire. 27 Alternatively, an
applicant can technically pass the polygraph examination, but admit to
past criminal behavior (e.g., admitting to frequent and recent illegal
narcotics usage) that would likely render the applicant unsuitable for CBP
employment when PSD adjudicates a complete record of CAD’s
polygraph examination and associated interviews. 28 Table 6 provides our
analysis of CAD’s data on the 11,149 polygraph examinations
administered since 2008, and the technical results of those examinations.




26
   CAD administers the polygraph examination program, which includes (1) a pre-
examination interview with the applicant, (2) the examination itself, and (3) a
postexamination interview. CAD provides a final polygraph examination report to PSD for
final adjudication.
27
  Polygraph examinations result in a “significant response” when the applicant displays a
physiological response to a question and is ultimately unable to resolve the issue in spite
of additional probing during the examination process.
28
  CBP IA defines an admission statement to include any one of the following types of
information provided by an applicant: (1) admitting to behavior outside of his self-interest,
(2) providing information that was not previously known, (3) admitting to behavior that is
relevant to issues that CBP tests, and/or (4) admitting information that was not relevant to
determining suitability for employment.




Page 16                                                   GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
Table 6: Technical Results of Polygraph Examinations, January 2008 to August 2012

                                   Total tests            Failed          Failure    Passed    Passed                         Inconclusive
Fiscal year                        conducted              testsa             rate      tests      rate      Inconclusive              rate
2008 (January through September)            505               158              31%      292        58%                   55             11%
2009                                    2,047                 733              36%     1,031       50%                 283              14%
2010                                    2,069                 975              47%      907        44%                 187                9%
2011                                    2,688              1,361               51%      978        36%                 349              13%
2012 (through August 7, 2012)           3,840              1,917               50%     1,255       33%                 668              17%
Total                                  11,149              5,144               46%     4,463       40%               1,542              14%
                                        Source: GAO analysis of CBP IA data.

                                        Note: Of the 11,149 examinations, 859 were retests (i.e., an applicant had to retake the examination
                                        usually because of an initial inconclusive result.) Retest results were proportionally similar to the
                                        results for all polygraph examinations.
                                        a
                                         Failed test refers to a test with a significant response and/or a no opinion or no opinion-counter
                                        measure. “No opinion” means that no exam was administered or no viable exam could be collected
                                        (usually because of an applicant not appearing for a scheduled exam). A “no opinion-counter
                                        measure” represents an attempt by the applicant to deceive the exam.


                                        In addition to the technical examination results, CAD maintains
                                        documentation on admissions that applicants reveal during the polygraph
                                        examination process. Applicants have admitted to a range of criminal
                                        activity from plans to gain employment with the agency in order to further
                                        illicit activities, such as drug smuggling to excessive illegal drug use. For
                                        example, one applicant admitted that his brother-in-law, a known Mexican
                                        drug smuggler, asked him to use employment with CBP to facilitate
                                        cocaine smuggling. Another applicant admitted to using marijuana 9,000
                                        times, including the night before the polygraph examination; cocaine 30 to
                                        40 times; hallucinogenic mushrooms 15 times; and ecstasy about 50
                                        times. CBP IA officials stated that admissions such as these highlight the
                                        importance of the polygraph examination to help identify these types of
                                        behaviors in applicants before they are hired for CBP employment. CBP
                                        IA officials stated that the polygraph examination is the key investigative
                                        tool in the agency’s integrity program because it can help identify whether
                                        applicants have misled background investigators regarding previous
                                        criminal histories or misconduct issues.

                                        PSD is responsible for maintaining data on its final suitability
                                        determinations—whether or not it determines that applicants are suitable
                                        for hire. However, CBP IA does not have a mechanism to track and
                                        maintain data on which of its screening tools (e.g., background
                                        information or polygraph examination) provided the information that PSD
                                        used to determine that applicants were not suitable for hire, making it



                                        Page 17                                                         GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
difficult for CBP IA to assess the relative effectiveness of its various
screening tools. For example, if 100 applicants technically pass a
polygraph examination, but 60 of these applicants are ultimately found
unsuitable for hire, CBP IA does not have data to indicate if the applicants
were found unsuitable based on admissions during the polygraph
examination, derogatory information collected by background
investigators, a combination of this information, or on the basis of other
screening tools. PSD officials stated that they do not have the data
needed to assess the effectiveness of screening tools because of
limitations in PSD’s information management system, the Integrated
Security Management System (ISMS), which is not designed to collect
data on the source of the information (e.g., background information,
polygraph examination) and the results used to determine whether an
applicant is deemed suitable for hire. 29 CBP IA’s Assistant Commissioner
and other senior staff stated that maintaining these data on an ongoing
basis would be useful in managing CBP IA’s programs.

Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government states that
program managers need operational data to determine whether they are
meeting their goals for accountability for effective and efficient use of
resources. Moreover, the standards state that pertinent information
should be identified, captured, and distributed in a form and time frame
that permits managers to perform their duties efficiently. The standards
also require that all transactions be clearly documented in a manner that
is complete and accurate in order to be useful for managers and others
involved in evaluating operations. 30 Maintaining and tracking data on
which screening tools provide information that contributes to PSD
determining that an applicant is not suitable for hire could better position
CBP IA to gauge the effectiveness of each tool and the extent to which
the tools are meeting their intended goals for screening applicants for
hire.




29
  PSD uses DHS’s Integrated Security Management System (ISMS) to track data on its
adjudications. CBP IA began using ISMS, as required by DHS, in fiscal year 2010.
30
 GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.




Page 18                                             GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
CBP Has Tools for     CBP has two key controls for incumbent employees—random drug
Screening Incumbent   testing and periodic reinvestigations—to ensure the continued integrity of
Officers and Agents   the CBPOs and BPAs. CBP is required to conduct random drug tests on
                      an annual basis for at least 10 percent of the employees in designated
                      positions, 31 including CBPOs and BPAs, to help ensure employees who
                      hold positions in the area of law enforcement or public trust refrain from
                      the use of illegal drugs while on or off duty. 32 According to CBP data for
                      fiscal years 2009 through 2011, more than 99 percent of the 15,565
                      random drug tests conducted on CBP employees were negative. CBP
                      officials stated that actions against those with positive results ranged from
                      voluntary resignation to removal. In September 2012, Human Resource
                      Management officials told us that DHS was in the process of reviewing
                      drug-free workplace programs across the department and that CBP was
                      coordinating with DHS’s drug-free workforce program. Changes under
                      consideration for DHS’s program include eliminating the 2-hour advance
                      notice that employees currently receive before they are required to
                      provide a urinalysis sample, which human resource officials stated could
                      help reduce the possibility of CBP employees potentially engaging in
                      efforts to dilute the results of the tests.

                      In addition, CBP policy states that all CBPOs and BPAs are subject to a
                      reinvestigation every 5 years to ensure continued suitability for
                      employment. 33 According to CBP IA officials, reinvestigations are a key
                      control for monitoring incumbent officers and agents, particularly for those
                      employees who were hired in the past without a polygraph examination. 34


                      31
                        Human Resources Management administers the CBP Federal Drug Free Workplace
                      Program as is mandated by Executive Order 12564. Tested designated positions include
                      sensitive federal positions in the area of law enforcement and public trust such as CBPOs
                      and BPAs.
                      32
                        CBP also conducts urinalysis tests based on reasonable suspicion or in the aftermath of
                      an accident or in other instances. Grounds for reasonable suspicion tests include, among
                      other things, observable phenomena, such as direct observation of drug use or
                      possession and/or the physical symptoms of being under the influence of a drug, a pattern
                      of abnormal conduct or erratic behavior, or an arrest or conviction for a drug-related
                      offense. CBP conducted five reasonable suspicion tests from fiscal years 2009 to 2011.
                      33
                        CBP policies allows for reinvestigations to be initiated outside of the standard 5-year
                      cycle. As of July 2012, CBP has not conducted any periodic reinvestigations outside of the
                      normal cycle, according to CBP IA officials.
                      34
                        As of October 2012, CBP requires all incoming CBPO and BPA applicants to receive a
                      polygraph examination. However, PSD began screening some applicants with a polygraph
                      examination beginning in 2008.




                      Page 19                                                 GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
                           CBP IA officials stated that they conducted few periodic reinvestigations
                           during fiscal years 2006 to 2010 because resources were focused on
                           meeting mandated hiring goals. 35 Thus, CBP IA accumulated a backlog of
                           15,197 periodic reinvestigations as of 2010. To help address this backlog,
                           the Anti-Border Corruption Act of 2010 required CBP to initiate all
                           outstanding periodic reinvestigations within 180 days of the enactment of
                           the law, or July 3, 2011. 36 As of September 2012, CBP IA had initiated
                           100 percent, and had completed 99 percent (15,027 of 15,197) of the
                           outstanding reinvestigations from the backlog. According to CBP IA
                           officials, 13,968 of the reinvestigations that were completed as of
                           September 2012 have been adjudicated favorably, and CBP officials
                           stated that they had referred three additional cases to the Office of Labor
                           and Employee Relations for possible disciplinary action. 37 CBP IA data
                           indicate, however, that about 62 percent of the favorably adjudicated
                           reinvestigations initially identified some type of issue, such as criminal or
                           dishonest conduct or illegal drug use, which required further review during
                           the adjudication process. According to CBP IA officials, PSD adjudicators
                           mitigated these issues and determined that they did not warrant any
                           referrals to labor and employee relations officials for disciplinary actions.


CBP Has Not Assessed the   CBP IA officials stated that they are considering implementing a polygraph
Feasibility of Expanding   requirement for incumbent employees; however, CBP has not yet
Its Polygraph Program to   assessed the feasibility of expanding the program beyond applicants. In
                           May 2012, CBP’s Acting Deputy Commissioner testified that the agency is
Incumbent Officers and     considering whether and how to subject incumbent officers and agents to
Agents                     polygraph examinations. 38 CBP IA officials and supervisory CBPOs and
                           BPAs that we interviewed at all four of the locations we visited expressed


                           35
                             In fiscal years 2011 and 2012, appropriations acts provided that the Border Patrol was to
                           maintain an active duty presence of no fewer than 21,370 agents protecting the border of
                           the United States. Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act,
                           2011, div. B, tit. VI, § 1608, Pub. L. No. 112-10, 125 Stat. 38, 140; Consolidated
                           Appropriations Act, 2012, div. D, tit. II, Pub. L. No. 112-74, 125 Stat. 786, 945-46 (2011).
                           36
                            Pub. L. No. 111-376, § 3, 124 Stat. 4104, 4104-05 (2011).
                           37
                            The Office of Labor and Employee Relations is the authority within CBP for
                           management of labor and employee relations activities.
                           38
                            Statement of Thomas Winkowski, Acting Deputy Commissioner, U.S. Customs and
                           Border Protection, before the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and
                           Management, Committee on Homeland Security, U.S. House of Representatives.
                           Washington, D.C.: May 17, 2012.




                           Page 20                                                  GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
concerns about the suitability of the officers and agents hired during the
surges because most of these officers and agents did not take a polygraph
examination. CBP IA’s Assistant Commissioner also stated that he
supports a periodic polygraph requirement for incumbent officers because
of the breadth and volume of derogatory information that applicants have
provided during the polygraph examinations. The Assistant Commissioner
and other senior CBP officials stated that they have begun to consider
various factors related to expanding polygraph examinations to incumbent
officers and agents in CBP. However, CBP has not yet fully assessed the
costs and benefits of implementing polygraph examinations on incumbent
officers and agents, as well as other factors that may affect the agency’s
efforts to expand the program. For example:

•   Costs. In September 2012, CBP IA officials told us that they had not
    fully examined the costs associated with different options for
    expanding the polygraph examination requirement to incumbent
    employees. To test 5 percent of current eligible law enforcement
    employees (about 45,000 officer and agents), for example, equates to
    2,250 polygraph examinations annually, according to CBP IA. Testing
    20 percent of eligible employees each year, by comparison, equates
    to 9,000 polygraph examinations annually. CBP IA preliminarily
    identified some costs based on the average cost per polygraph
    examination (about $800); however, it has not completed analyses of
    other costs associated with testing incumbent employees, including
    those associated with mission support specialists, adjudicators, and
    supervisors who would need to be hired and trained to conduct the
    examinations. In October 2012, CBP IA officials stated that there
    would be further costs associated with training polygraph examiners—
    approximately $250,000 per examiner. CBP has not determined the
    full costs associated with expanding polygraph examinations to
    incumbent employees to help assess the feasibility of various options
    for expansion.

•   Authority and ability to polygraph incumbents. According to OPM
    requirements, to conduct polygraph examinations on current
    employees, CBP would need to request and obtain approval from
    OPM. As of September 2012, CBP had not yet sought approval from
    OPM to conduct polygraph examinations on incumbent employees
    because CBP’s senior leadership had not completed internal
    discussions about how and when to seek this approval. In addition,
    CBP officials identified other factors that the agency has not yet
    assessed, which could affect the feasibility of conducting polygraph
    examinations on incumbent employees. These factors include the



Page 21                                       GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
     need to assess how the agency will use the results of incumbent
     employees’ polygraphs and whether these options are subject to
     negotiation with the labor unions that represent CBPOs and BPAs.
     For example, according to CBP officials, it might be necessary to
     negotiate with the unions as to what disciplinary action could be taken
     based on the possible outcomes of the examination, including the test
     results themselves and any admissions of illegal activity or
     misconduct made by the employee during the examination.

•    Frequency or number of polygraph examinations to be
     conducted. According to the CBP IA Assistant Commissioner, the
     agency has identified possible options for how frequently to implement
     polygraph examinations for incumbent employees or for what
     population to conduct the examinations. For example, possible
     options include conducting polygraph examinations on a random
     sample of incumbent employees each year (e.g., 5 percent or 20
     percent of eligible employees each year), or conducting the
     examinations based on reasonable suspicion of finding derogatory
     information. CBP IA officials stated that testing incumbent employees
     on a random basis could have a deterrent effect by causing some
     employees to cease their corrupt behavior, and dissuading other
     employees from becoming involved in corrupt behavior. Although CBP
     has identified possible options for how frequently to implement
     polygraph examinations for incumbent employees or for what
     population to conduct the examinations, CBP officials stated that they
     have not assessed the feasibility of implementing these options,
     particularly in light of their relative costs and benefits.

Standard practices for project management call for the feasibility of
programs to be considered early on. 39 Moreover, standard practices for
project management state that specific desired outcomes or results should
be conceptualized, defined, and documented as part of a road map. 40

CBP has not fully assessed the feasibility of expanding the polygraph
program to incumbent officers and agents, in accordance with standard



39
 See GAO, Feasibility and Cost-Benefit Analysis Would Assist DHS and Congress in
Assessing and Implementing the Requirement to Scan 100 Percent of U.S.-Bound
Containers, GAO-10-12 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 30, 2009).
40
  Project Management Institute, The Standard for Program Management, second edition©
(Newton Square, Pa., 2006, updated 2008).




Page 22                                             GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
                            practices for project management, including assessing all of the
                            associated costs and benefits, options for how the agency will use the
                            results of the examinations, and the trade-offs associated with testing
                            incumbent officers and agents at various frequencies. In October 2012,
                            the CBP IA Assistant Commissioner stated that the agency has begun to
                            discuss options with senior agency officials for expanding its polygraph
                            program. He and other senior CBP IA officials acknowledged that his
                            office had not yet fully assessed the various factors that might affect the
                            feasibility of expanding the polygraph program and agreed that such an
                            assessment would be useful in discussions with CBP senior
                            management. Assessing the feasibility of expanding periodic polygraphs
                            early on in its planning efforts, consistent with standard practices, could
                            help CBP determine how to best achieve its goal of strengthening
                            integrity-related controls over incumbent CBPOs and BPAs.


CBP IA Could Benefit from   A senior PSD official stated that PSD has not implemented a quality
Implementing Its Quality    assurance program at the level desired because it has prioritized its
Assurance Program for       resources in recent years to address hiring goals and the mandated
                            requirements to clear the backlog of reinvestigations. 41 PSD established a
Initial Background and      quality assurance program in 2008 to help ensure that proper policies and
Periodic Reinvestigations   procedures are followed during the course of the preemployment
                            background investigations and incumbent employee reinvestigations. As
                            part of this program, PSD is to (1) review, on a monthly basis, no more
                            than 5 percent of all completed investigations to ensure the quality and
                            timeliness of the investigations and to identify any deficiencies in the
                            investigation process, and (2) report the findings or deficiencies in a
                            standardized checklist so that corrective action can be taken, if
                            necessary. As of September 2012, PSD officials stated that they have not
                            consistently completed the monthly checks, as required by the quality
                            assurance program, because they have prioritized their resources to
                            screen applicants to meet CBP’s hiring goals. PSD officials stated that
                            they have performed some of the required checks since 2008. However,
                            PSD officials could not provide data on how many checks were
                            conducted or when the checks were conducted because they did not
                            retain the results of the checks on the required checklists. In addition,


                            41
                              CAD adheres to a separate quality assurance program that is administered by the
                            National Center for Credibility Assessment, which evaluates CAD’s compliance with
                            established policies and procedures for polygraph programs within the federal
                            government.




                            Page 23                                               GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
                           CBP IA officials stated that they had performed 16 quality reviews on an
                           ad hoc basis outside of the monthly checks from fiscal years 2008
                           through 2010. CBP IA documented the results of these ad hoc checks,
                           which did not identify significant deficiencies according to officials.

                           Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government provides
                           guidance on the importance of evaluating the effectiveness of controls
                           and ensuring that the findings of audits and other reviews are promptly
                           resolved and evaluated within established time frames so that all actions
                           that correct or otherwise resolve the matters have been brought to
                           management’s attention. The standards also state that all transactions
                           and other significant events need to be clearly documented, and the
                           documentation should be readily available for examination. Senior CBP
                           IA officials stated that a quality assurance program is an integral part of
                           their overall applicant screening efforts, and they stated that it is critical
                           for CBP IA to identify and leverage resources to ensure that the quality
                           assurance program is fully implemented on a consistent basis. Without a
                           quality review program that is implemented and documented on a
                           consistent basis, it is difficult to determine the extent to which
                           deficiencies, if any, exist in the investigation and adjudication process and
                           whether individuals that are unsuitable for employment are attempting to
                           find employment with CBP. As a result, it is difficult for CBP to provide
                           reasonable assurance that cases have been investigated and adjudicated
                           properly and that corruption risk to the agency is mitigated accordingly.


OFO and USBP Have          In addition to CBP’s screening tools for applicants and incumbent
Developed Integrity-       employees, OFO and USBP have developed controls to help mitigate the
Related Controls; OFO      risk of potential CBPO and BPA corruption and misconduct (see table
                           7). 42 For example, OFO has been able to use upgraded technology at
Could Benefit from         ports of entry to help prevent and detect possible officer misconduct and
Clarifying the Roles and   to monitor officers’ activities while on duty. USBP established a policy that
Responsibilities of Its    limits the use of portable electronic devices while on duty to mitigate the
Integrity Officers         risks of agents potentially organizing illegal border crossings.




                           42
                             OFO and BP have also developed various policies, musters, training courses, and other
                           documents outlining officers’ and agents’ integrity-related responsibilities related to
                           accessing U.S. government law enforcement systems, inappropriate associations with
                           known or suspected criminals, processing of family or close associates, among other
                           things.




                           Page 24                                               GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
Table 7: Key OFO and USBP Integrity-Related Controls

OFO                                                                         USBP
Analytical Management Systems and Control Office                            AMSCO: In 2012, USBP assigned two agents to AMSCO to learn
(AMSCO): AMSCO, established in 2009, analyzes border                        from OFO and develop, as feasible, similar testing of available
crossing and other system data to help identify normal patterns             USBP data.
of behavior versus anomalies that may be indicative of integrity
issues. According to CBP officials, data from AMSCO have
proved beneficial in ongoing corruption investigations and also
assist in the development of potential leads against possible
corrupt CBP employees. In addition, AMSCO has been useful in
identifying additional training needs or system adjustments for
CBPOs.
Red Flag: Computerized system that sends electronic alerts via              Portable electronic devices: BPAs are allowed limited use of
handheld devices to CBP supervisors at ports of entry if                    personal electronic devices while on duty if usage does not
individual officers have potentially not followed standard policies.        interfere with official business. The policy also prohibits sensitive
As of August 2012, Red Flag technology has been implemented                 information on personal global positioning systems without
at 12 ports of entry along the southwest border, and OFO                    supervisory approval and discourages the use of wireless
officials stated that they plan to extend the technology to other           communications, other than sector communications systems, to
ports in fiscal year 2013.                                                  transmit official business. USBP instituted this policy to help
                                                                            mitigate the risks that BPAs alone on patrol could organize illegal
                                                                            border crossings or smuggling activities.
Unscheduled lane rotations: During primary inspection at land               Agent assignment restrictions: USBP trainees are prohibited
ports, OFO’s first-line supervisors may require CBPOs to change             from being initially assigned within a 100-mile radius of their
lane assignments immediately and without the officers’ prior                preemployment home of record based on a USBP analysis of
knowledge to help mitigate the risk of officers having previously           former USBP employees who have been arrested for alleged
informed drug or human smugglers of the lane in which they                  corruption, which concluded that 75 percent of these individuals
would be working.                                                           had been assigned near their preemployment home of record and
                                                                            therefore placed in an environment where they were more likely to
                                                                            face pressure from friends and family to engage in illicit activities
                                                                            such as smuggling.
Unscheduled work locations: Advanced details about
employee work locations are withheld to mitigate risk of officers
coordinating illegal activity more easily with those individuals who
are seeking to smuggle illicit goods or aliens into the country.
                                              Source: GAO analysis of OFO and USBP information.


                                              Senior USBP officials stated that its agents operate in an environment
                                              that does not lend itself to the types of technological controls, such as
                                              Red Flag, that OFO has implemented at the ports of entry, which are
                                              more confined and predictable environments than Border Patrol
                                              environments. For example, BPAs are required to patrol miles of terrain
                                              that may be inaccessible to radio coverage by supervisors at the sector
                                              offices. CBPOs operate in more controlled space at U.S. ports of entry as
                                              opposed to the open terrain across USBP sectors. Nevertheless, USBP
                                              officials stated that they are working with AMSCO and CBP IA to identify



                                              Page 25                                                          GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
innovative ways that technology might be used to assist USBP in
mitigating the risk of corruption along the border.

In addition, in 2009, OFO established the integrity officer position to
provide an additional control within the individual field offices. As of
August 2012, there were 19 integrity officers across OFO’s 20 field
offices; there were 5 officers across the 4 field offices on the southwest
border. Integrity officers monitor integrity-related controls, including the
Red Flag system and video surveillance cameras. Integrity officers also
perform data analyses and provide operational support to criminal and
administrative investigations against OFO employees. However, CBP IA
officials stated that OFO has not consistently coordinated the integrity
officer program with CBP IA, which is the designated lead for all integrity-
related matters within CBP. According to a CBP directive, entities within
CBP, such as OFO, that are engaged in integrity-related activities must
coordinate with CBP IA to ensure organizational awareness and prevent
investigative conflicts. 43 CBP IA officials stated that although they are
aware of the Integrity Officer program, they expressed concerns that the
roles and responsibilities of these officers may not be clearly articulated
and thus could result in potential problems, such as jeopardizing ongoing
investigations.

In August 2012, CBP’s Acting Commissioner testified that integrity
officers participate in local corruption task forces, committees, and
working groups, and collaborate with various federal law enforcement
agencies to provide assistance in operational inquiries, research, and
analysis to assist in the detection and deterrence of corruption and
misconduct. 44 OFO’s documentation on integrity officers’ duties does not
provide specific details about how they are to provide assistance to the
investigative entities. The documentation states that they are to “assist
with operational inquiries” and serve as technical experts on matters
related to “inspections, intelligence, analysis, examination and
enforcement” activities. However, there are differences in how the
integrity officers have interpreted OFO’s guidance on their roles and



43
 CBP Directive 2130-016.
44
  See Statement of David Aguilar, Acting Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border
Protection, before the Subcommittee on Government Organization, Efficiency, and
Financial Management, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, U.S. House of
Representatives. Washington, D.C.: Aug. 1, 2012.




Page 26                                            GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
responsibilities, including the definition of assisting with operational
inquiries. For example, in our meetings with 4 of the integrity officers
along the southwest border, we found that 3 defined their role to include
active participation in investigations of allegations of misconduct and
corruption against OFO employees. At one location we visited, the
integrity officer stated that he had created an online social media profile
under an assumed name to connect with CBP employees at his port of
entry, one of whom was under investigation—an activity that the OFO
Program Manager, senior OFO officials, and CBP IA officials
acknowledged was beyond the scope of the intended role of the integrity
officer position. Further, one integrity officer indicated that his role
includes a right to “fully investigate” CBP employees, while another
interpreted his role to be limited to conducting data analysis.

CBP IA officials stated that integrity officers are not authorized to conduct
investigations nor are they trained to do so. Differences in integrity
officers’ activities across field locations could be justified given the
variances at each port of entry. CBP IA officials expressed concerns,
however, that the integrity officers may be overstepping their roles by
inserting themselves into ongoing investigations, which could potentially
disrupt or jeopardize ongoing investigations because they could
unknowingly compromise the independence of an investigation or
interview. OFO’s Acting Assistant Commissioner and the integrity officer
program manager acknowledged that it would be useful to further clarify
integrity officers’ duties to avoid any conflicts with ongoing investigations
and ensure that the officers were approaching their duties more
consistently. Clear roles and responsibilities for integrity officers
developed in consultation with key stakeholders such as CBP IA, and a
mechanism that monitors the implementation of those roles and
responsibilities, could help OFO ensure that the program is operating
effectively and, in particular, in coordination with the appropriate
stakeholders like CBP IA.




Page 27                                         GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
                               CBP has not developed a comprehensive integrity strategy to encompass
An Agencywide                  all CBP components’ initiatives. Further, CBP has not completed some
Strategy and Lessons           postcorruption analyses on employees convicted of corruption since
                               October 2004, missing opportunities to gain lessons learned to enhance
Learned Analyses               policies, procedures, and controls.
Could Help Guide
CBP Integrity-Related
Efforts

CBP Is Developing an           CBP has not completed an integrity strategy that encompasses the
Integrity Strategy, but Does   activities of CBP components that have integrity initiatives under way,
Not Have Target Timelines      including CBP IA, OFO, and USBP, as called for in the CBP Fiscal Year
                               2009-2014 Strategic Plan. 45 Specifically, CBP’s Strategic Plan states that
for Its Completion and         it will deploy a comprehensive integrity strategy that integrates
Implementation                 prevention, detection, and investigation. Further, a 2008 CBP directive
                               states that CBP IA is responsible for developing and implementing CBP’s
                               comprehensive integrity strategy to prevent, detect, and investigate all
                               threats to the integrity of CBP. 46 We have previously reported that
                               developing effective strategies can help ensure successful
                               implementation of agencywide undertakings where multiple entities are
                               involved, such as CBP integrity-related efforts. 47 Elements of an effective
                               strategy include, among others, (1) identifying the purpose, scope, and
                               particular problems and threats the strategy is directed toward; (2)
                               establishing goals, subordinate objectives and activities, priorities,
                               timelines, and performance measures; (3) defining costs, benefits, and




                               45
                                 U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Secure Borders, Safe Travel, Legal Trade: U.S.
                               Customs and Border Protection Fiscal Year 2009-2014 Strategic Plan. Washington, D.C.:
                               July 2009.
                               46
                                CBP Directive 2130-016.
                               47
                                 GAO, Efforts to Develop a National Biosurveillance Capability Need a National Strategy
                               and a Designated Leader, GAO-10-645 (Washington, D.C.: June 30, 2010) and GAO,
                               National Capital Region: 2010 Strategic Plan is Generally Consistent with Characteristics
                               of Effective Strategies, GAO-12-276T (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 7, 2011).




                               Page 28                                                 GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
resource and investment needs; and (4) delineating roles and
responsibilities. 48

CBP has efforts under way to help coordinate the various components’
integrity-related initiatives, but these efforts have not fully addressed the
elements of a comprehensive integrity strategy that integrates prevention,
detection, and investigative initiatives for all CBP components. First, CBP
IA developed a fiscal year 2010-2015 strategic implementation plan to
guide its programs that aim to prevent, detect, and respond to corruption
in CBP’s workforce. While CBP IA’s implementation plan sets goals and
objectives and assigning roles and responsibilities for CBP IA’s programs,
it does not address the goals or resources necessary across other
components. Second, CBP convened the Integrity Integrated Policy
Coordination Committee (IPCC) in March 2011 to provide a forum to
discuss integrity-related issues among representative members from CBP
component agencies and other stakeholders. 49 IPCC provides
recommendations to CBP’s Commissioner to improve integrity programs
and initiatives, but does not have the authority provided to CBP IA in the
2008 directive to implement an agencywide integrity strategy or assign
roles and responsibilities nor has it defined resource and investment
needs for a comprehensive integrity strategy. Last, at the component
level, USBP established an Integrity Advisory Committee in 2008 to
disseminate integrity and ethics information throughout the sectors and
provide recommendations to help combat corruption and promote
integrity within the workforce. In addition, USBP established local



48
  GAO, Combating Terrorism: Evaluation of Selected Characteristics in National
Strategies Related to Terrorism, GAO-04-408T (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 3, 2004). Another
element of effective strategies that we identified was integration and implementation,
which addresses how a strategy relates to other strategies’ goals, objectives, and
activities, and to subordinate levels of government and their plans to implement the
strategy. We determined that this element was not relevant to the scope of our review,
which was limited to CBP’s integrity programs and strategy and not its integration with
integrity activities of other DHS components.
49
  CBP convened the IPCC in 2011 as a forum to discuss integrity-related issues and
ideas and to share best practices among the members. IPCC is responsible for facilitating
integrity-related operations of individual offices within CBP as a deliberative body. In
particular, IPCC was tasked with making recommendations to address the results of an
integrity study conducted by the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute. The
IPCC is composed of representatives from CBP IA, OFO, USBP, Human Resources
Management, and Labor and Employee Relations, among others. See Homeland Security
Studies and Analysis Institute, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Workforce Integrity
Study. Dec. 15, 2011.




Page 29                                                GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
committees in selected sectors, including along the southwest border, to
establish training and guidance to help BPAs and reinforce concepts such
as professional behavior and ethical decision making. OFO established
an Integrity Committee to review misconduct and corruption data related
to OFO employees, identify potential trends, and develop integrity
initiatives to address any concerns. Although CBP IA has a strategic
implementation plan for its activities and officials told us that these
integrity coordination committees have been useful as forums for sharing
information about the components’ respective integrity-related initiatives,
CBP has not yet developed and deployed an agencywide integrity
strategy.

During the course of our review, CBP IA began drafting an integrity
strategy for approval by the components and CBP’s senior management,
in accordance with CBP’s Fiscal Year 2009-2014 Strategic Plan. CBP IA
officials stated that a comprehensive strategy is important because it
would help guide CBP integrity efforts and can, in turn, lead to specific
objectives and activities, better allocation and management of resources,
and clarification of roles and responsibilities. A 2011 workforce integrity
study commissioned by CBP recommended that CBP develop a
comprehensive integrity strategy and concluded that without such a
strategy, there is potential for inconsistent efforts, conflicting roles and
responsibilities, and unintended redundancies. 50 However, CBP IA’s
Assistant Commissioner stated that, as of September 2012, his office had
not developed timelines for completing and implementing the agencywide
integrity strategy and has not been able to finalize the draft, in
accordance with the Fiscal Year 2009-2014 Strategic Plan. He indicated
that that there has been significant cultural resistance among some CBP
component entities in acknowledging CBP IA’s authority and
responsibility for overseeing the implementation of all CBP integrity-
related activities. Program management standards state that successful
execution of any program includes developing plans that include a
timeline for program deliverables. 51 Without target timelines, it will be
difficult for CBP to monitor progress made toward the development and
implementation of an agencywide strategy. Further, it is too soon for us to



50
 Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Workforce Integrity Study. Dec. 15, 2011.
51
 Project Management Institute, The Standard for Program Management, second edition
© (Newton Square, Pa., 2006, updated 2008).




Page 30                                              GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
                            determine if the final strategy will meet the key elements of an effective
                            strategy that encompasses CBP-wide integrity stakeholders’ goals,
                            milestones, performance measures, resource needs, and roles and
                            responsibilities. A strategy that includes these elements could help better
                            position CBP to provide oversight and coordination of integrity initiatives
                            occurring across the agency.


CBP Has Not Yet             CBP has not completed some analyses of some cases in which CBPOs
Completed Analyses of       and BPAs were convicted of corruption-related charges. Such analyses
Prior Cases of Corruption   could provide CBP with information to better identify corruption or
                            misconduct risks to the workforce or modify existing policies, procedures,
                            and controls to better detect or prevent possible corrupt activities on the
                            part of CBPOs and BPAs. In 2007, OFO directed relevant managers to
                            complete postcorruption analysis reports for each employee convicted for
                            corruption. In 2011, USBP began requiring that these reports be
                            completed after the conviction of any USBP employee for corruption. The
                            reports are to include information such as how the employee committed
                            the corrupt activity, and provide, among other things, recommendations
                            on how USBP and OFO could improve policies, procedures, and controls
                            to prevent or detect similar corruption in the future. For example,
                            according to an OFO Director, several reports stated that the use of
                            personal cell phones helped facilitate and coordinate drug smuggling
                            efforts. As a result of these analyses, OFO implemented a restriction on
                            the use of personal cell phones while on duty.

                            As of October 2012, OFO has completed about 66 percent of the total
                            postcorruption analysis reports on OFO employees convicted since
                            October 2004 (47 of 71 total convictions). OFO’s Incident Management
                            Division Director stated that OFO had not completed the remaining
                            reports because some convictions occurred prior to the 2007 OFO
                            directive or because the convictions had not been published on CBP IA’s
                            internal website—a point that informs OFO when it has 30 days to
                            complete the report. 52 USBP has completed about 4 percent of
                            postcorruption anlaysis reports on USBP employees convicted since
                            October 2004 (2 of 45 total convictions). USBP was instructed to
                            complete postcorruption analysis reports in August 2011, and USBP



                            52
                              CBP’s “Trust Betrayed” internal website lists examples of behavior that CBP states
                            betrays the conduct expected of employees, and includes details of criminal prosecutions.




                            Page 31                                                GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
officials stated that the agency does not have plans to complete analyses
for convictions before August 2011 because CBP IA is reviewing these
cases as part of a study to analyze behavioral traits among corrupt
employees. However, CBP IA’s study does not substitute for
postcorruption analysis reports because for this study, CBP IA
researchers are exploring the convicted employees’ thinking and behavior
to gain insights into the motives behind the betrayal of trust, how the
activity originated, and how they carried out the illegal activity. The
postcorruption reports, however, may go beyond this type of analysis and
also may aim to identify deficiencies in port or sector processes that may
have fostered or permitted corruption and to produce recommendations
specific to enhancing USBP policies, procedures, or controls. A USBP
Deputy Chief acknowledged that completing the remaining reports could
be beneficial to understanding any trends or patterns of behavior among
BPAs convicted of corruption. In some cases, OFO and USBP officials
stated that it may be difficult to complete postcorruption analysis reports
for older convictions, as witnesses and other information on the
corruption-related activities may no longer be available.

Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government provides
guidance on the importance of identifying and analyzing risks, and using
that information to make decisions. 53 These standards address various
aspects of internal control that should be continuous, built-in components
of organizational operations. One internal control standard, risk
assessment, calls for identifying and analyzing risks that agencies face
from internal and external sources and deciding what actions should be
taken to manage these risks. The standards indicate that conditions
governing risk continually change and periodic updates are required to
ensure that risk information, such as vulnerabilities in the program,
remains current and relevant. Information collected through periodic
reviews, as well as daily operations, can inform the analysis and
assessment of risk. Complete and timely information from postcorruption
analysis reports of all convictions could assist USBP and OFO
management in obtaining and sharing lessons learned to enhance
integrity-related policies, procedures, and controls throughout CBP.




53
 GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.




Page 32                                       GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
                      Data indicate that the overwhelming majority of CBP employees adhere
Conclusions           to the agency’s integrity standards; however, a small minority have been
                      convicted of engaging in corruption due, in part, to the increasing
                      pressure from drug-trafficking and other transnational criminal
                      organizations that are targeting CBPOs and BPAs, particularly along the
                      southwest U.S. border. The Acting Commissioner of CBP testified that no
                      act of corruption within the agency can or will be tolerated and that acts of
                      corruption compromise CBP’s ability to achieve its mission to secure
                      America’s borders against all threats while facilitating and expediting legal
                      travel and trade. Strategic and continuous monitoring of operational
                      vulnerabilities is important given the shifting tactics of drug-trafficking
                      organizations seeking to infiltrate the agency. Therefore, CBP has taken
                      steps to mitigate the risk of misconduct and corruption among incoming
                      CBPOs and BPAs by implementing controls during the preemployment
                      screening process. However, tracking and maintaining data on the results
                      of its screening tools for applicants, a feasibility assessment for potential
                      expansion of polygraph requirements, and a robust quality assurance
                      program for background investigations and periodic reinvestigations that
                      ensures reviews are consistently conducted and documented could better
                      position CBP to mitigate risk of employee corruption. In addition, clear
                      roles and responsibilities for OFO’s integrity officers developed in
                      coordination with appropriate stakeholders such as CBP IA could help
                      CBP ensure that the program is operating effectively. Moreover,
                      establishing a target time frame for completing a comprehensive integrity
                      strategy could help CBP ensure sufficient progress toward its
                      development and implementation. In addition, completed, postcorruption
                      analysis reports of former CBP employees who have been arrested for
                      corruption could better position CBP to implement any lessons learned
                      from these cases.


                      To enhance CBP’s efforts to mitigate the risk of corruption and
Recommendations for   misconduct among CBPOs and BPAs, we recommend that the CBP
Executive Action      commissioner take the following seven actions:

                      •   develop a mechanism to maintain and track data on the sources of
                          information (e.g., background investigation or polygraph examination
                          admissions) that PSD uses to determine what applicants are not
                          suitable for hire to help CBP IA assess the effectiveness of its
                          applicant screening tools;
                      •   assess the feasibility of expanding the polygraph program to
                          incumbent CBPOs and BPAs, including the associated costs and
                          benefits, options for how the agency will use the results of the



                      Page 33                                         GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
                         examinations, and the trade-offs associated with testing incumbent
                         officers and agents at various frequencies;
                     •   conduct quality assurance reviews of CBP IA’s adjudications of
                         background investigations and periodic reinvestigations, as required
                         in PSD’s quality assurance program;
                     •   establish a process to fully document, as required, any deficiencies
                         identified through PSD’s quality assurance reviews;
                     •   develop detailed guidance within OFO on the roles and
                         responsibilities for integrity officers, in consultation with appropriate
                         stakeholders such as CBP IA;
                     •   set target timelines for completing and implementing a comprehensive
                         integrity strategy; and,
                     •   complete OFO and USBP postcorruption analysis reports for all
                         CBPOs and BPAs who have been convicted of corruption-related
                         activities, to the extent that information is available.

                     We provided a draft of this report to DHS for its review and comment.
Agency Comments      DHS provided written comments, which are reproduced in full in appendix
and Our Evaluation   II. DHS concurred with all seven recommendations and described actions
                     under way or plans to address them. DHS also discussed concerns it
                     had with periodically polygraphing incumbent law enforcement officers.

                     With regard to our first recommendation, DHS concurred and indicated
                     that by March 31, 2013, CBP expects to collect data on the impact of the
                     polygraph examination regarding the outcome of CBP applicant suitability
                     adjudications and undertake steps to ensure data reliability across
                     various CBP personnel security databases.

                     With regard to the second recommendation, while DHS concurred, it
                     reported possible adverse impacts associated with periodically
                     polygraphing incumbent law enforcement officers. Specifically, DHS
                     noted that doing so could adversely affect CBP resources without
                     additional resources to implement the requirement. While we understand
                     DHS’s concerns, we did not recommend that CBP expand its polygraph
                     program to incumbent employees; rather, we recommended that CBP
                     assess the feasibility of expanding polygraph examinations to incumbent
                     CBPOs and BPAs. Thus, concerns such as these could be considered in
                     conducting its feasibility assessment. As we reported, assessing the
                     feasibility of expanding periodic polygraphs early on in its planning efforts
                     could help CBP determine how to best achieve its goal of strengthening
                     integrity-related controls over incumbent CBPOs and BPAs. In addition,
                     DHS noted that expanding the polygraph program to incumbent
                     employees would be contingent on approval from OPM and may


                     Page 34                                         GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
encounter resistance from unions representing CBP’s employees who
may view it as a potential change to the conditions of their employment.
As noted in the report, these are important factors CBP could consider in
assessing the feasibility of expanding the polygraph program.

With regard to the other five recommendations, DHS concurred and
indicated that CBP will work to strengthen its current quality assurance
processes and develop a process to document deficiencies identified
through quality reviews; develop detailed guidance on the duties, roles,
and responsibilities of integrity officers; complete a comprehensive
integrity strategy; and develop postcorruption analysis reports for any
convictions that do not currently have such reports. DHS estimates that it
will complete these steps by July 31, 2013. The actions that DHS has
planned or under way should help address the intent of the
recommendations. DHS also provided technical comments, which we
incorporated as appropriate.


As agreed with your offices, unless you publicly announce its contents
earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 30 days after its
issue date. If you or your staff have any questions about this report,
please contact me at (202) 512-8777 or gamblerr@gao.gov. Contact
points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may
be found on the last page of this report. Key contributors to this report are
listed in appendix III.




Rebecca Gambler
Acting Director
Homeland Security and Justice




Page 35                                          GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology
             Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




             To examine data on arrests of and allegations against U.S. Customs and
             Border Protection (CBP) employees accused of corruption or misconduct
             issues, we analyzed data on 144 CBP employees arrested or indicted
             from fiscal year 2005 through fiscal year 2012 for corruption activities. We
             also analyzed data on allegations of corruption and misconduct against
             CBP employees from fiscal years 2006 through 2011. For both arrest and
             allegation data, these are the time periods for which the most complete
             data were available. In particular, we analyzed variations in both sets of
             data across CBP components and geographic region. To assess the
             reliability of these data, we (1) performed electronic data testing and
             looked for obvious errors in accuracy and completeness, and (2)
             interviewed agency officials knowledgeable about these data to determine
             the processes in place to ensure their accuracy. We determined that the
             data were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this report. In addition,
             we interviewed officials from CBP Office of Internal Affairs (IA), Office of
             Field Operations (OFO), United States Border Patrol (USBP), and CBP’s
             Human Resource Management, and Labor and Employee Relations, to
             gain their perspectives on these data on CBP employee corruption and
             misconduct.

             To evaluate CBP’s implementation of integrity-related controls to prevent
             and detect employee misconduct and corruption, we analyzed relevant
             laws such as the Anti-Corruption Border Act of 2010, which requires, by
             January 2013, that all CBP officer (CBPO) and U.S. Border Patrol Agent
             (BPA) applicants receive polygraph examinations before they are hired. 1
             We also reviewed documentation on CBP’s preemployment screening
             practices and their results—including background investigations and
             polygraph examinations—and relevant data and documentation on the
             random drug testing program and the periodic reinvestigation process for
             incumbent CBPOs and BPAs. In particular, we evaluated CBP IA data on
             the technical results of polygraph examinations from January 2008
             through August 2012. To assess the reliability of the technical results of
             the polygraph data, we (1) performed electronic data testing and looked
             for obvious errors in accuracy and completeness, and (2) interviewed
             agency officials knowledgeable about these data to determine the
             processes in place to ensure their accuracy. We determined that these
             data were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this report. In addition,
             we examined CBP IA’s quality assurance program for its Personnel



             1
              Pub. L. No. 111-376, § 3, 124 Stat. 4104, 4104-05 (2011).




             Page 36                                                GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




Security Division (PSD), 2 including interviewing PSD officials who are
responsible for deciding whether an applicant or incumbent officer or
agent is suitable for hire or continued employment. 3 We also analyzed
Human Resource Management’s random drug testing data for fiscal
years 2009 through 2011, the time period for which the most complete
data were available, and examined the results of those mandated periodic
reinvestigations that CBP IA had completed as of September 2012. To
assess the reliability of these data, we conducted tests for accuracy and
interviewed officials responsible for managing the drug testing and
reinvestigation programs and found that the data were sufficiently reliable
for the purposes of our report.

We compared CBP’s integrity-related controls, as applicable, against
recommended controls in Standards for Internal Control in the Federal
Government 4 and standard practices from the Project Management
Institute. 5 Furthermore, we conducted site visits to four locations along
the southwest U.S. border to observe the implementation of various
integrity-related controls and obtain perspectives from CBP IA, OFO, and
USBP officials at these locations on the implementation of integrity-
related controls. We conducted these visits in El Paso, Texas; Laredo,
Texas; San Diego, California; and, Tucson, Arizona. We selected these
locations on the basis of a variety of factors, including the colocation of
CBP IA with OFO offices and USBP sectors along the southwest border
and the number of allegations against or arrests of CBP employees for
corruption or misconduct. Because we selected a nonprobability sample
of sites, the information we obtained from these interviews and visits
cannot be generalized to all OFO, USBP, and CBP IA field locations.



2
 PSD, within CBP IA, manages the personnel security and suitability program by initiating
and adjudicating preemployment investigations for CBP applicants and contractors. PSD
also conducts and adjudicates periodic reinvestigations and issues security clearances for
CBP employees.
3
 With a favorable suitability determination, an applicant can be hired, if all other
requirements are met. The suitability determination is a process that subjects applicants’
and employees’ personal conduct to evaluation throughout their careers. Title 5, Code of
Federal Regulations Part 731, establishes factors that are used to make a determination
of suitability.
4
 GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1
(Washington, D.C.: Nov. 1, 1999).
5
 Project Management Institute, The Standard for Program Management, second edition ©
(Newton Square, Pa., 2006, updated 2008).




Page 37                                                  GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




However, observations obtained from these visits provided us with a
greater understanding of CBP’s integrity-related initiatives.

To evaluate CBP’s integrity strategy, including how the agency
incorporates lessons learned from prior misconduct and corruption cases,
we reviewed documentation on integrity initiatives from CBP IA, OFO,
and USBP, as well as from the Integrity Integrated Planning and
Coordination Committee (IPCC), which CBP convened in 2011 as a
forum to discuss integrity-related issues and ideas and to share standard
practices among the members. In particular, we analyzed these
documents against the requirements set forth in the CBP Fiscal Year
2009-2014 Strategic Plan. 6 In addition, we analyzed all available
postcorruption analyses reports, which identify deficiencies that may have
enabled CBP employees to engage in corruption-related activities,
against OFO and USBP program requirements. We interviewed officials
in Washington, D.C., from the Office of Policy and Planning, CBP IA,
USBP, OFO, and IPCC, as well as officials during our site visits,
regarding CBP’s integrity strategy and the extent to which CBP is using
lessons learned from prior corruption and misconduct cases to guide
changes in policies and procedures, as appropriate. 7

We conducted this performance audit from December 2011 to December
2012, in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to
obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for
our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe
that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings
and conclusions based on our audit objectives.




6
 U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Secure Borders, Safe Travel, Legal Trade: U.S.
Customs and Border Protection Fiscal Year 2009-2014 Strategic Plan. Washington, D.C.:
July 2009.
7
 CBP’s Office of Policy and Planning is headed by an Executive Director and provides
oversight of CBP policy and aligns policies across the various CBP components.




Page 38                                                GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
Appendix II: Comments from the Department
             Appendix II: Comments from the Department
             of Homeland Security



of Homeland Security




             Page 39                                     GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
Appendix II: Comments from the Department
of Homeland Security




Page 40                                     GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
Appendix II: Comments from the Department
of Homeland Security




Page 41                                     GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
Appendix II: Comments from the Department
of Homeland Security




Page 42                                     GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
Appendix III: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Appendix III: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Acknowledgments


Acknowledgments

                  Rebecca Gambler, (202) 512-8777 or gamblerr@gao.gov
GAO Contact
                  In addition to the contact named above, Kathryn Bernet, Assistant
Staff             Director; David Alexander; Nanette J. Barton; Frances Cook; Wendy Dye;
Acknowledgments   David Greyer; Jackson Hufnagle; Wendy Johnson; Otis S. Martin; and
                  Linda Miller made significant contributions to the work.




(441030)
                  Page 43                                    GAO-13-59 CBP Integrity Programs
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