oversight

Border Patrol Hiring: Despite Recent Initiatives, Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Was Not Met

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-12-17.

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

                United States General Accounting Office

GAO             Report to Congressional Requesters




December 1999

                BORDER PATROL
                HIRING
                Despite Recent
                Initiatives, Fiscal Year
                1999 Hiring Goal Was
                Not Met




GAO/GGD-00-39
United States General Accounting Office                                                             General Government Division
Washington, D.C. 20548




                                    B-280858

                                    December 17, 1999

                                    The Honorable Spencer Abraham
                                    Chairman
                                    The Honorable Edward M. Kennedy
                                    Ranking Minority Member
                                    Subcommittee on Immigration
                                    Senate Committee on the Judiciary
                                    United States Senate

                                    Illegal entry into the United States, particularly along the southwest
                                    border, has been a long-standing national problem. The illegal alien
                                    population in this country, estimated at more than 5 million people, is
                                                                                    1
                                    estimated to be growing by 275,000 annually. As such, concerns exist over
                                    the ability of the Border Patrol, part of the Immigration and Naturalization
                                    Service (INS), to defend our borders. The Illegal Immigration Reform and
                                                                            2
                                    Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, among other things, directed the
                                    Attorney General to increase the number of Border Patrol agents onboard
                                    by not less than 1,000 in each fiscal year from 1997 through 2001.

                                    You asked us to review INS’ efforts to increase the number of new Border
                                    Patrol agents. Specifically, we agreed to provide information and analysis
                                    on (1) INS’ ability to meet its 5-year goal to increase the Border Patrol’s
                                    onboard strength by 1,000 agents each year from fiscal years 1997 through
                                    2001; (2) INS’ efforts to improve its recruiting efforts and hiring process;
                                    (3) changes in the years of experience and level of supervision of Border
                                    Patrol agents during INS’ increased hiring; and (4) the ability of INS’ basic
                                    training program to support the pace at which Border Patrol agents have
                                    been hired, including whether the Border Patrol Academy anticipates
                                    having the capacity to meet future growth.

                                    INS’ recruitment program yielded a net increase of 1,002 Border Patrol
Results in Brief                    agents in fiscal year 1997 and a net increase of 1,035 agents in fiscal year
                                    1998 after accounting for attrition. Although INS met its goal to increase
                                    the Border Patrol’s onboard strength by 1,000 agents each year in these 2
                                    years, it saw a net increase of only 369 agents in fiscal year 1999 because it

                                    1
                                     Not all illegal aliens have entered the United States illegally. Some have entered legally but violated
                                    their conditions for entry (e.g., over-stayed their visa).
                                    2
                                        P.L. 104-208.




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                                                                    3
was unable to recruit enough qualified applicants and retain them through
the hiring process. Thus, for the 3-year period ending September 30, 1999,
INS experienced a net hiring shortfall of 594 agents.

INS has had difficulties attracting and retaining qualified applicants.
Although INS has attracted large numbers of applicants, few individuals
who apply to the Border Patrol successfully complete the application
process. Some fail to pass the rigorous entry examination, medical
examination, or background investigation, while others withdraw from the
process. In fiscal year 1999, failure and drop-out rates were higher than in
the past. To address its hiring problems, INS has redirected $2.2 million to
enhance its recruiting and hiring program, which includes initiatives to
increase Border Patrol agents’ involvement in recruitment and fine-tuning
INS’ hiring process. As part of this effort, INS plans to survey Border Patrol
applicants who register for the written examination—an early step in the
hiring process—but do not report for testing to find out their reasons for
not reporting, as well as those who do report for testing to obtain their
views on the initial part of the hiring process. In addition, INS officials said
that, in April 1999, staff began asking applicants their reasons for declining
Border Patrol job offers. However, INS does not have plans to survey
applicants who voluntarily withdraw at other stages later in the process—
such as after passing the interview or the background investigation. These
additional surveys could be beneficial because, at these later stages in the
hiring process, INS has invested funds in medical examinations and
initiated costly background investigations for applicants. We are
recommending that INS collect information at key junctures later in the
hiring process to better understand why applicants are withdrawing at
these points in the process.

INS assigns all new Border Patrol agents to the southwest border, where
92 percent of all agents are located. As hiring has increased, the average
experience level of Border Patrol agents has declined agencywide, as well
as along the southwest border. The percentage of agents along the
southwest border with 2 years of experience or less almost tripled—from
14 percent to 39 percent—between fiscal years 1994 and 1998. During the
same period, seven of the nine southwest border sectors experienced
some increase in the average number of nonsupervisory agents (GS-5
through GS-11) assigned to each GS-12 supervisory agent. The Tucson
sector experienced the greatest increase, with its ratio of nonsupervisory


3
 Throughout this report, we use the term “qualified applicant” to refer to an applicant who meets all
INS’ hiring criteria, including passing an examination and background investigation.




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             agents to one supervisory agent rising from 8 to 1 in fiscal year 1994 to
             about 11 to 1 in fiscal year 1998.

             By relying on a temporary training facility in Charleston, South Carolina
             since 1996, the Border Patrol Academy has been able to provide newly
             hired agents with required training and, according to a Border Patrol
             official, it is prepared to meet the training needs associated with future
             growth. However, INS and Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
                        4
             (FLETC) officials have different views on how long INS will need to rely
             on the Charleston facility. FLETC believes the facility can be closed by the
             end of fiscal year 2004, if not earlier—as soon as FLETC has the capacity
             to absorb the Border Patrol training that is taking place at the Charleston
             facility. INS estimates it will need to keep the facility open until sometime
             between fiscal years 2004 and 2006—when it believes FLETC will be ready
             to accommodate all of INS’ training needs, including any unanticipated
             needs that might arise in the future.

             The Border Patrol is the mobile, uniformed, enforcement arm of INS. Its
Background   mission is to detect and prevent the smuggling and illegal entry of
             undocumented aliens into the United States and to apprehend persons
             found in the United States in violation of immigration laws. With the
             increase in drug smuggling operations, the Border Patrol has become the
             primary drug interdiction agency along United States land borders
             between ports-of-entry. Border Patrol agents perform their duties near and
             along about 8,000 miles of United States boundaries by land, sea, and air.
             The Border Patrol is divided into 21 sectors, 9 of which are along the
             southwest border. Sectors are further subdivided into stations.

             To stem the growing flow of illegal entry into the country, the Attorney
             General announced in 1994 a five-part strategy that included strengthening
             border enforcement. To support this strategy, the Illegal Immigration
             Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, among other things,
             required that the Attorney General increase the onboard strength of
             Border Patrol agents by not less than 1,000 each year for fiscal years 1997
             through 2001. Deployment of new agents to particular sectors along the
             southwest border has generally corresponded with INS’ implementation of
                                 5
             its border strategy. However, because the strategy was designed to allow

             4
              FLETC is operated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and serves as an interagency law
             enforcement training organization for over 70 federal agencies, including the Border Patrol.
             5
              The strategy deploys Border Patrol agents to the nine sectors along the southwest border in three
             phases. During phase I, which INS began implementing in fiscal year 1994, agents were deployed to the
             San Diego, CA, and El Paso, TX, sectors. INS completed phase I and transitioned to phase II in fiscal
             year 1998. Under phase II, INS is deploying agents to the Tucson, AZ, sector and three sectors in south




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              for flexibility in responding to unexpected changes in the flow of illegal
              immigration, some sectors have received additional agents before the
              strategy was implemented in their sectors. With increased hiring, the
              Border Patrol has experienced dramatic growth in recent years. From the
              end of fiscal year 1994 to the end of fiscal year 1999, the size of the Border
                                                            6
              Patrol nearly doubled—from 4,226 to 8,351.

              INS uses a variety of approaches to attract applicants to the Border Patrol,
              including advertising in magazines and newspapers, on the Internet, in
              movie theaters, and on billboards; targeting key colleges and universities
              with degree programs in law enforcement, criminal justice, and police
              science; attending recruitment events; and visiting military bases to recruit
              departing military personnel. Although INS has recruited in different parts
              of the country, it is now focusing its efforts on locations near the
              southwest border.

              Those applying to be Border Patrol agents must initially complete a self-
              screening questionnaire for basic eligibility (i.e., age, education, and
              citizenship), after which they must successfully complete a multistep
              hiring process. This process is comprised of a written examination, which
              includes a Spanish test or an artificial language test designed to measure
              an applicant’s ability to learn a foreign language (e.g., Spanish); a
              structured interview with a panel of Border Patrol agents; a medical
              examination; a drug screening; and a full background investigation.

              To determine if INS is on track in meeting its hiring goals, we analyzed
Scope and     hiring and attrition data from INS’ Budget Office. We met with Human
Methodology   Resources officials to discuss INS’ latest hiring shortfall projections.

              To learn about INS’ recruiting efforts, hiring process, and plans to meet
              future goals, we met with INS officials in the National Recruitment
              Program, Special Examining Unit, National Hiring Center, and Office of
              Security. We attended two hiring sessions and reviewed documents
              regarding INS’ recruiting and hiring processes. We did not evaluate INS’
              criteria for hiring Border Patrol agents. We also reviewed INS’ recruiting
              and hiring initiatives and discussed them with agency officials. In addition,
              we discussed INS’ hiring process and personnel classification issues with
              officials from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Furthermore, to

              Texas—Del Rio, Laredo, and McAllen. Under phase III, INS plans to deploy agents to El Centro, CA,
              Yuma, AZ, and Marfa, TX.
              6
               The 1994 fiscal year-end count of 4,226 does not include Border Patrol pilots; the 1999 fiscal year-end
              count of 8,351 does include pilots.




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help put INS’ processes and experiences into perspective, we obtained
recruiting and hiring information from seven other law enforcement
          7
agencies.

To provide information on how levels of experience and supervision of
Border Patrol agents changed during INS’ hiring build-up, we analyzed INS
budget data and compared fiscal year 1994 data (before the hiring build-up
began) to fiscal year 1998 data (2 years after the start of the hiring
mandate). To analyze experience, we used data on Border Patrol agents’
years of service with INS because INS does not maintain data on agents’
length of service with the Border Patrol. However, agency officials told us
that most Border Patrol agents begin their INS careers with the Border
Patrol, and it is unusual for other INS personnel to transfer into the Border
Patrol. To provide information on supervision, we analyzed changes in the
ratio of nonsupervisory agents (GS-5 through GS-11) to first-line
supervisory agents (GS-12). Such an analysis provides an indication of how
supervision may have changed as more agents have been hired, although it
may not provide a complete picture of supervision. INS does not centrally
maintain data that would enable us to determine the grade or experience
of agents who are actually assigned to work with new agents.

To provide information on whether the Border Patrol Academy has kept
pace with increased hiring and has the capacity to meet the basic training
needs associated with future growth, we visited the Border Patrol
Academy and FLETC in Glynco, Georgia, and the Border Patrol’s
temporary training facility in Charleston, South Carolina. We met with the
Chief of the Border Patrol Academy, instructors, database managers, and
FLETC officials. We analyzed Academy databases containing demographic
profiles of newly hired agents, final grades, and instructor data. In
addition, we reviewed Border Patrol training projections and renovation
plans for the Charleston facility and FLETC. We discussed the Charleston
facility plans with INS and Border Patrol officials, and we discussed
FLETC plans with Treasury officials.

To verify the consistency of Border Patrol Academy data, we performed
reliability checks on the Academy’s demographic profile, final grade, and
instructor databases. We verified that the data entry was complete and that

7
 We judgmentally selected the following federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies based on
factors such as the agencies having activities similar to those of the Border Patrol or recruiting from
similar applicant pools: the U.S. Customs Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal
Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Texas Department of Public Safety (which hires
State Troopers), and the Los Angeles and El Paso Police Departments. We obtained information from
each agency through interviews or the agency’s Internet web site.




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                       data had not been duplicated. Academy database managers told us that
                       they verify the data entry of all grade data, and that demographic profile
                       data are electronically scanned from trainee-completed answer sheets. We
                       did not verify the accuracy of the grade or instructor data with Academy
                       class records.

                       We conducted our work at INS Headquarters; its training facilities in
                       Glynco, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina; and two hiring sessions
                       in San Diego, California, and El Paso, Texas, from September 1998 to
                       September 1999 in accordance with generally accepted government
                       auditing standards. The Department of Justice provided technical
                       comments on a draft of this report, which we incorporated where
                       appropriate.

                       INS was able to increase the onboard strength of the Border Patrol by
INS Did Not Meet Its   more than 1,000 agents in the first 2 years of its 5-year hiring goal, but in
Fiscal Year 1999       the third year (fiscal year 1999) it was only able to increase its onboard
Border Patrol Hiring   strength by 369 agents. This resulted in a net shortfall of 594 agents for the
                       3-year period ending September 30, 1999. Because of attrition, INS would
Goal                   have had to hire 1,757 agents in fiscal year 1999 to meet that year’s hiring
                       goal.

                       As shown in table 1, to account for attrition, INS has had to hire far more
                       than 1,000 agents in each year to meet its hiring goal. During fiscal year
                       1997, the first year of its goal to increase the Border Patrol’s onboard
                       strength by 1,000 agents, INS actually hired 1,726 agents, which resulted in
                       a net increase of 1,002 agents. In fiscal year 1998, it hired 1,919 agents for a
                       net increase of 1,035. In fiscal year 1999, INS hired 1,126 agents, but
                       because 757 agents left the Border Patrol during the year, the size of the
                       Border Patrol only increased by 369 agents. The Border Patrol’s 9-percent
                       attrition rate for fiscal year 1999 was actually lower than the 13 percent
                       INS originally anticipated. According to an INS official, during fiscal year
                       1999, some Border Patrol agents applied for, and were accepted to, other
                       INS positions. However, in August 1999, an INS official told us that due to
                       funding difficulties, INS would not be transferring these agents until fiscal
                       year 2000. Had the agents transferred as planned, INS would have faced an
                       even larger shortfall of about 900 Border Patrol agents in fiscal year 1999.




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Table 1: Annual Border Patrol Hiring and Attrition, FYs 1990 Through 1999
                          FY 1990   FY 1991       FY 1992     FY 1993      FY 1994      FY 1995      FY 1996      FY 1997        FY 1998 FY 1999

Agents onboard at start
                                                                                                                                          a
of fiscal year              3,781     3,733         3,651        4,076        3,965        4,226         4,881        5,878       6,947        7,982
               b
Agents hired                 172       196             692         102          461        1,005         1,517        1,726        1,919       1,126
       c
Attrition                    220       278             267         213          200           350          520          724          884           757
Percentage of
Attrition                     6%        7%             7%           5%           5%           8%          11%          12%          13%            9%

Agents onboard at
                                                                                                                             a
end of fiscal year          3,733     3,651         4,076        3,965        4,226        4,881         5,878       6,880         7,982       8,351

Net gain/(loss)              (48)      (82)            425        (111)         261           655          997        1,002        1,035           369
                                              Note: Border Patrol pilots are not included in data for fiscal years 1990 through 1997; pilots are
                                              included in data for fiscal years 1998 and 1999.
                                              a
                                               The number of agents onboard at the end of fiscal year 1997 does not match the number onboard at
                                              the start of fiscal year 1998 because, starting in fiscal year 1998, INS began including Border Patrol
                                              pilots in its hiring and attrition reports.
                                              b
                                               Fiscal years 1990 through 1993 data on number of agents hired provided by the Border Patrol
                                              Academy. Fiscal years 1994 and 1995 data provided by INS’ Human Resources and Development
                                              Division. All other years provided by INS’ Budget Office.
                                              c
                                               Fiscal years 1996 through 1999 attrition data provided by INS’ Budget Office. GAO calculated
                                              attrition for all other years. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.
                                              Source: GAO analysis of INS data.

                                              The attrition rate among Border Patrol agents rose fairly steadily from
                                              fiscal year 1994 through fiscal year 1998, which increased the total number
                                              of agents INS needed to hire each year to meet its mandate. As shown in
                                              table 1, the annual attrition rate for Border Patrol agents was 5 percent in
                                              fiscal year 1994, but by 1998, the rate had risen to 13 percent. Although INS
                                              maintains data on categories of attrition, such as retirement and
                                              termination, it has limited information on why agents leave the Border
                                              Patrol. However, its data do show that in fiscal years 1994 through 1998,
                                              almost half of the agents who left the Border Patrol left within their first 10
                                              months of service. Since fiscal year 1996, about one-third of the Border
                                              Patrol’s attrition occurred during the initial 19-week training period at the
                                              Border Patrol Academy. Appendix I contains additional hiring and attrition
                                              data, as well as demographic information on newly hired agents.




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                              A major goal of INS’ National Recruitment Program, which was established
INS Cites Recruiting          in 1996, has been to generate enough qualified applicants to meet INS’
and Hiring Problems           hiring goal. The program’s efforts have included tracking advertising
and Is Making Changes         sources that generated the greatest applicant response and identifying key
                              schools at which it had past success hiring Border Patrol agents. In the
                              first 2 fiscal years of the program, INS met its hiring goal. However, by
                              November 1998, INS foresaw difficulties in meeting its fiscal year 1999 goal
                              and was projecting a hiring shortfall. Much of the problem was INS’
                                                                                             8
                              inability to attract sufficient numbers of eligible applicants and retain
                              qualified recruits through the hiring process. INS has been initiating
                              actions to improve both its recruiting efforts and hiring process.

INS Was Not Able to Attract   Difficulties finding eligible applicants and the high occurrence of
                              applicants failing or dropping out of the hiring process resulted in INS not
Enough Eligible Applicants    being able to meet its fiscal year 1999 hiring goal. Officials believe that the
and Retain Enough             country’s strong economy and job market have contributed significantly to
Qualified Recruits            the agency’s hiring troubles. INS officials estimate that, historically, INS
                              has hired about 4 percent of eligible applicants, but it hired only an
                              estimated 2 percent in fiscal year 1999. Thus, officials estimated that INS
                              would have needed to attract about 75,000 eligible applicants—far more
                              than in the past—to meet the agency’s fiscal year 1999 goal.

                              Being able to hire only a small percentage of applicants has clearly
                              contributed to INS’ hiring difficulties, but based on our discussions with
                              other law enforcement agencies, this situation is not unique to the Border
                              Patrol. For example, the Los Angeles Police Department typically hires
                              about 5 percent of its applicants, the Texas Department of Public Safety
                              about 3 percent of its State Trooper applicants, and the U.S. Coast Guard
                              about 1 percent of its applicants, according to officials of these
                              organizations. The U.S. Customs Service only hired 1 percent of its
                              applicants for inspector positions in fiscal year 1999, although 2 percent of
                              the applicants who applied were qualified to be hired.

                              A small percentage of Border Patrol applicants were hired because most
                              failed the written or physical examination, the interview, or the
                              background investigation, or they voluntarily dropped out of the hiring

                              8
                               Throughout this report, we use the term “eligible applicants” to refer to those applicants who have
                              passed an initial self-assessment screen through INS’ automated telephone or on-line system. An
                              applicant passes this initial eligibility screening if he or she has 1 year of qualifying experience or a
                              bachelor’s degree, is under 37 years of age, is a U.S. citizen, and has not been convicted of domestic
                              violence or any felony.




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process. However, INS knows little about why some applicants chose to
withdraw from the process.

The size of the Border Patrol’s applicant pool declines with each stage of
the hiring process, but losses are particularly heavy in its early stages.
However, in fiscal year 1999, applicant losses were higher throughout the
entire process. INS officials estimated that in fiscal year 1996, about half of
those who were scheduled to take the written examination actually
showed up for the test, and in fiscal years 1997 and 1998, about 60 percent
of those scheduled did not report for testing. In contrast, INS estimated
about 75 percent of applicants who were scheduled did not report for the
written examination in fiscal year 1999. According to an OPM official, a 50-
percent no-show rate for initial written testing has been considered typical
among government agencies. INS officials do not know why INS’ fiscal
year 1999 no-show rate increased.

Furthermore, many Border Patrol applicants failed a step of the hiring
process in recent years, and this was also true in fiscal year 1999. INS
estimated about 72 percent of those who took the written test in fiscal year
1999 failed it, and according to an INS official, failure rates were even
higher in the last quarter of the year.

In addition, a greater percentage of applicants failed the background
              9
investigation in fiscal year 1999. INS estimated that about 15 percent failed
the investigation in fiscal year 1998. However, it estimated about 40
percent of applicants failed it in fiscal year 1999. According to an INS
official, the more stringent security requirements instituted in May 1998
have increased the background investigation failure rate.10 INS instituted
the tighter requirements to address security concerns.

INS officials cite other aspects of the hiring process that may have also
contributed to INS’ hiring difficulties. However, their identification of
these contributing factors is largely based on anecdotal information from
their program staff, and not on any systematic data collection effort.
Officials believe that the length of the standard hiring process—-typically 6
months to 1 year—may be a factor in the agency’s inability to hire a greater
percentage of Border Patrol applicants. Although most of the other law
9
 Background investigation failure rates include those who failed to respond to investigators’ inquiries,
as well as those who failed the investigation.
10
   The tighter requirements added a limited, second background check for applicants just before being
hired. INS also added arrest incidents to its criteria for disqualifying applicants. Earlier, in 1996, INS
stopped issuing security “waivers” that allowed INS to hire certain applicants before a full background
investigation was completed.




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                         enforcement agencies we contacted had hiring processes that fell within
                         the range of 5 months to 1 year, recent recruiting literature point out that
                         recruiters are shortening their hiring processes to avoid losing qualified
                         applicants. Other aspects of the hiring process that INS officials believe
                         may have contributed to hiring problems include the out-of-pocket costs
                         applicants incur during the hiring process and in reporting for duty, and a
                         lack of flexibility regarding location and start dates for newly hired agents.
                         Appendix II contains additional information on these and other factors
                         that may contribute to INS’ problems attracting and hiring applicants.

INS Is Taking Steps to   To improve its ability to identify and recruit applicants, INS has redirected
                         $2.2 million to enhance its recruiting and hiring initiatives and said it is
Address Recruiting and   prepared to redirect additional funds, if needed. However, INS developed
Hiring Problems          these initiatives without adequate data on why it had been unable to retain
                         and hire more Border Patrol applicants. Rather, INS officials said that, in
                         an effort to meet INS’ fiscal year 1999 hiring goal, they based most of their
                         initiatives on their review of the hiring process and past recruitment
                         experiences.

Recruiting Initiatives   INS’ recruiting initiatives include training more than 200 Border Patrol
                         agents to serve as local recruiters and establishing a recruitment
                         coordinator for each Border Patrol sector as part of INS’ overall strategy to
                         increase sector involvement in recruiting and attract more viable recruits.
                         According to an INS official, these recruiting efforts have attracted more
                         applicants, but a greater proportion of recent applicants has been failing
                         the written examination.

                         INS is also considering additional actions that may help recruitment, such
                         as providing hiring bonuses for recruits, and the possibility of raising the
                         full performance level for Border Patrol agents from GS-9 to GS-11.
                         According to INS officials, about 30 percent of the nonsupervisory agents
                         are at the GS-11 level. INS officials believe the current classification
                         standard could support an across-the-board increase to the GS-11 level, but
                         recognize that sufficient GS-11 work must exist and be organized and
                         assigned in a manner that would support the GS-11 level. These changes
                         are being considered as part of a broader effort to bring parity to all INS
                         law enforcement positions, as well as achieve parity with law enforcement
                         positions in other federal agencies. Agency officials hope that raising the
                         full performance level will also make joining the Border Patrol more
                         attractive.

Hiring Initiatives       Many of INS’ hiring initiatives are geared toward reducing the time it takes
                         to hire an agent, although INS does not have systematic data that confirm



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                        its lengthy process has contributed to its hiring difficulties. In addition, to
                        better understand why so many applicants who sign up for the written
                        examination never report for testing, INS plans to conduct telephone
                        surveys of those applicants as part of its hiring initiatives. INS also plans to
                        survey applicants who took the written examination to obtain feedback on
                        the initial steps of its application process. Since April 1999, INS has been
                        asking applicants their reasons for declining offers to join the Border
                        Patrol. However, INS does not have plans to collect data on why it is losing
                        applicants at other stages later in the hiring process. Losing applicants at
                        the later stages is costly to INS because it has already committed Border
                        Patrol agents’ time to conduct interviews, and it has spent about $500 on
                        each medical examination and drug screening, and another $3,000 on each
                        background investigation. (See app. II for additional information on INS’
                        recruiting and hiring initiatives.)

                        As a result of the increased hiring of Border Patrol agents in recent years,
Agents’ Average Years   the average years of experience among all Border Patrol agents has
of Experience           declined. This is true among agents assigned to all nine sectors of the
Declined and Average    southwest border. For example, between fiscal years 1994 and 1998, the
                        percentage of agents stationed along the southwest border with 2 years of
Number of Agents Per    experience or less almost tripled, from 14 percent to 39 percent, and the
Supervisor Increased    percentage of agents with 3 years of experience or less more than doubled,
                        from 26 percent to 54 percent.

                        With increased hiring, the average number of nonsupervisory agents (GS-5
                        through GS-11) assigned to each GS-12 supervisory agent has increased in
                        seven of the nine southwest border sectors. For example, in Arizona’s
                        Tucson sector, which experienced the greatest increase, the ratio of
                        nonsupervisory agents to each supervisory agent rose from 8 to 1 in fiscal
                        year 1994 to about 11 to 1 in fiscal year 1998. In Texas’ Marfa sector, which
                        had the lowest ratio of nonsupervisory agents to one supervisory agent,
                        this ratio remained at about 6 to 1 over the same period. INS requires that
                        supervisors in the field supervise at least eight subordinate Border Patrol
                        agents. Agencywide, from fiscal year 1994 to fiscal year 1998, the ratio of
                        nonsupervisory agents to one supervisory agent increased from 7 to 1 to 8
                            11
                        to1.

                        Comparing the ratio of nonsupervisory agents to one supervisory agent
                        from fiscal year 1994 to fiscal year 1998 may provide an indication of how
                        supervision may have changed with increased hiring. However, this

                        11
                          We did not evaluate how the Border Patrol implemented the requirement for an 8-to-1 supervisory
                        ratio within the agency.




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                        analysis may not provide a complete picture of supervision within the
                        Border Patrol. New agents may be assigned to work with GS-9 or GS-11
                        Field Training Officers who have received special training, or with other
                        nonsupervisory agents. However, even though these agents provide
                        guidance to new agents, they are not officially classified as supervisors.
                        Furthermore, according to Border Patrol officials, new agents may be
                        assigned to work with other nonsupervisory agents who are not Field
                        Training Officers. Because of a lack of data regarding agents who are
                        assigned to work with new agents, and because sectors differ in how they
                        assign new agents, we were unable to measure the level of experience of
                        agents who work with new agents or analyze changes over time.

                        See appendix III for additional analyses comparing grade level and years of
                        service of all Border Patrol agents and those assigned to southwest border
                        sectors, for fiscal years 1994 and 1998. Appendix IV contains a map
                        highlighting the Border Patrol’s southwest border sectors.

                        In anticipation of increased hiring, INS opened a temporary training facility
Training Capacity Has   in Charleston, South Carolina, to supplement the existing Border Patrol
Kept Pace With Hiring   Training Academy, located at FLETC in Glynco, Georgia. Between these
                        two facilities, the Border Patrol Academy has had the capacity to meet the
                        basic training needs associated with its hiring goal. In fact, because INS
                        was unable to maintain its hiring levels in fiscal year 1999, the Academy
                        has had more than enough capacity. The Academy cancelled 10 training
                        sessions in fiscal year 1999 because fewer agents were hired than planned.
                        Furthermore, none of the 28 sessions it conducted were filled to capacity.

                        As of October 1999, the Academy was planning to train about 1,900 new
                        agents in fiscal year 2000, although it may revise this estimate as the year
                                                                                             12
                        progresses depending on the number of agents INS is able to hire.
                        According to a Border Patrol official, this training projection should allow
                        the Academy to train new agents hired in fiscal year 2000, any additional
                        agents who must be hired to replace those who leave the Border Patrol
                        during that year, and about 600 agents who must be hired if INS is to make
                        up for the fiscal year 1999 hiring shortfall.

                        INS has renovated parts of the Charleston facility to make it useable for
                        training, and more renovations are planned. Both INS and FLETC officials
                        have reaffirmed their commitment that Charleston should serve as a
                        12
                           This estimate represents a departure from the training projection the Academy submitted to FLETC
                        in March 1999, which planned for training 2,970 new agents in fiscal year 2000. According to INS
                        officials, the revised projection more realistically reflects attrition rates and INS’ ability to hire new
                        agents.




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              B-280858




              temporary facility and that FLETC should provide all INS training as soon
              as it has the capacity to do so. Renovations and expansions at FLETC are
              also planned. However, the agencies have come to different conclusions
              about when the Charleston facility can be closed. FLETC’s position is
              premised on when it will have the capacity to absorb the Border Patrol
              training that is currently held at the Charleston facility. However, INS
              believes the facility cannot be closed until FLETC can accommodate all of
              INS’ training needs, including any that might arise in the future.

              Appendix V contains additional information on the capacity of the Border
              Patrol Academy, instructors, and trainees’ class grades. It also contains
              more information on the future of the Charleston facility.

              INS has initiatives under way and is considering taking additional actions
Conclusions   to attract more Border Patrol applicants and improve its hiring process.
              The overall effectiveness of these measures cannot be assessed until INS
              has fully implemented them. However, even if INS is able to increase the
              number of applicants, shorten the hiring process, or upgrade the full
              performance level of agents, experience indicates that these actions alone
              may not ensure that INS can compensate for the hiring shortfall that has
              occurred and meet any future hiring goals that are established. Too many
              Border Patrol applicants may still be unable to pass the steps necessary to
              be hired, or may not maintain their initial interest in the Border Patrol
              throughout the hiring process. In the face of these challenges, INS is
              continuing to explore its options.

              When faced with an impending hiring shortfall for fiscal year 1999, INS
              officials expanded their recruiting and hiring efforts in an attempt to meet
              INS’ hiring goal. However, because INS had limited information on why
              applicants withdrew from the hiring process, it may or may not be
              addressing all the causes for the shortfall. INS plans to survey applicants
              who do and do not show up to take the written examination as one step
              toward helping the agency understand more about its recruiting and hiring
              problems.

              At that early written examination stage of the hiring process, INS has spent
              relatively few funds on any one applicant. As an applicant moves further
              along in the hiring process, INS invests more of its resources, including
              making Border Patrol agents available to interview the applicant, and
              spending $3,000 for a background investigation and almost $500 for a
              medical examination and drug screening. In addition to surveying those
              applicants who do not show up for the written test and collecting
              information from those who decline a job offer, INS could find it



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                      B-280858




                      informative and cost-effective to learn why some applicants drop out at
                      other stages later in the hiring process. For example, INS could survey
                      applicants, or a sample of applicants, who voluntarily withdraw from the
                      process after passing the interview or the background investigation.

                      We recommend that the INS Commissioner broaden the agency’s plans to
Recommendation        survey applicants who register for the written examination by also
                      collecting data on why applicants are withdrawing at other key junctures
                      later in the hiring process.

                      On November 22, 1999, we met with representatives of the Department of
Agency Comments and   Justice, including INS’ Assistant Commissioner for Human Resources and
Our Evaluation        Development, to obtain comments on a draft of this report. They generally
                      agreed with our report and provided technical comments, which we
                      incorporated where appropriate. With respect to our recommendation,
                      they agreed that obtaining additional information on why applicants are
                      withdrawing at other key junctures later in the hiring process would be
                      beneficial. They plan to evaluate the feasibility of implementing the
                      recommendation.

                      Copies of this report are being sent to Senator Orrin G. Hatch and Senator
                      Patrick J. Leahy, Chairman and Ranking Minority Member of the Senate
                      Committee on the Judiciary; Representative Henry J. Hyde and
                      Representative John Conyers, Jr., Chairman and Ranking Minority Member
                      of the House Committee on the Judiciary; and Representative Lamar S.
                      Smith and Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Chairman and Ranking
                      Minority Member of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims.
                      We will also send copies of this report to the Honorable Janet Reno, the
                      Attorney General; the Honorable Doris Meissner, Commissioner,
                      Immigration and Naturalization Service; the Honorable Lawrence H.
                      Summers, Secretary of the Treasury; and the Honorable Jacob J. Lew,
                      Director, Office of Management and Budget. We will also make copies
                      available to others upon request.




                      Page 14                       GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
B-280858




The major contributors to this report are acknowledged in appendix VI. If
you or your staff have any questions concerning this report, please contact
me or James M. Blume, Assistant Director, on (202) 512-8777.




Richard M. Stana
Associate Director
  Administration of Justice Issues




Page 15                        GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
Contents



Letter                                                                                                  1


Appendix I                                                                                             20
                          Fiscal Year 1999 Monthly Hiring and Attrition Data                           20
Border Patrol Hiring      Border Patrol Attrition                                                      20
and Attrition             Demographic Profile of New Border Patrol Agents                              21

Information and
Demographic Profile
of New Agents
Appendix II                                                                                            23
                          Overview of Recruiting Program                                               23
INS’ Recruiting Efforts   Recruiting and Hiring Problems                                               23
and Hiring Process        New Recruiting and Hiring Initiatives                                        28


Appendix III                                                                                           33
                          Border Patrol Growth Led to Shifts in Grade-Level                            33
Changes in Agents’          Composition
Years of Experience       Agents’ Average Years of Experience Declined                                 35
                          Average Number of Agents Per Supervisor Increased                            37
and Ratio of Agents to
Supervisor
Appendix IV                                                                                            39

Map of Border Patrol
Sectors Along the
Southwest Border
Appendix V                                                                                             40
                          Overview of Border Patrol Academy Basic Training                             40
Border Patrol             Academy Instructors                                                          40
Academy’s Basic           Basic Training Grades                                                        41
                          Charleston Facility As a Temporary Training Site                             42
Training Capacity




                          Page 16                       GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
                   Contents




Appendix VI                                                                                      43

GAO Contacts and
Staff
Acknowledgments
Tables             Table 1: Annual Border Patrol Hiring and Attrition, FYs                        7
                     1990 Through 1999
                   Table I.1: Border Patrol Hiring and Attrition Data, by                        20
                     Month, FY 1999
                   Table I.2: When Border Patrol Attrition Occurred, FYs                         21
                     1994 Through 1998
                   Table I.3: Age, Sex, and Race of Border Patrol New Hires,                     21
                     FYs 1994 Through 1998
                   Table I.4: Prior Experience of Border Patrol New Hires,                       22
                     FYs 1994 Through 1998
                   Table I.5: Education Level of Border Patrol New Hires,                        22
                     FYs 1994 Through 1998
                   Table II.1: Number of Border Patrol Applicants/Agents                         24
                     Hired, by FY
                   Table II.2: Results of Last Expedited Hiring Sessions, as                     27
                     of July 14, 1999
                   Table III.1: Number and Percentage of Agents by Grade                         34
                     Level in the Southwest Border Sectors
                   Table III.2: Years of Service of All Border Patrol Agents,                    36
                     FYs 1994 and 1998
                   Table III.3: Years of Service of Border Patrol Agents on                      36
                     the Southwest Border, FYs 1994 and 1998
                   Table III.4: Years of Service of Border Patrol Agents in                      37
                     Southwest Border Sectors, FYs 1994 and 1998
                   Table III.5: Ratios of Nonsupervisory Agents (GS-5 to GS-                     38
                     11) to a Supervisory Agent (GS-12), FYs 1994 and 1998
                   Table V.1: Border Patrol Agents Receiving Basic Training,                     40
                     FYs 1994 Through 1999
                   Table V.2: Border Patrol Basic Training 5-Year Projection,                    40
                     FYs 2001 Through 2005
                   Table V.3: Number of Border Patrol Instructors, FYs 1994                      41
                     Through 1998
                   Table V.4: Border Patrol Basic Training Final Grade                           41
                     Averages, FYs 1994 Through 1998




                   Page 17                        GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
          Contents




Figures   Figure IV.1: Southwest Border Patrol Sectors                                 39




          Page 18                       GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
Contents




Abbreviations

COP         Continuation of Pay
FLETC       Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
FY          Fiscal Year
INS         Immigration and Naturalization Service
OPM         Office of Personnel Management


Page 19                       GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
Appendix I

Border Patrol Hiring and Attrition Information
and Demographic Profile of New Agents

                                            This appendix provides an overview, by month, of Border Patrol hiring and
                                            attrition in fiscal year 1999; attrition information for fiscal years 1994
                                            through 1998; and a demographic profile of new agents hired from fiscal
                                            years 1994 through 1998. The demographic information covers agents’ age,
                                            sex, race, prior military and/or law enforcement training experience, and
                                            education level.

                                            The rate at which INS hired Border Patrol agents fluctuated throughout
Fiscal Year 1999                            fiscal year 1999. Table I.1 provides a monthly accounting of hiring and
Monthly Hiring and                          attrition for the year. As the table shows, the number of agents leaving the
Attrition Data                              agency was greater in some months than the number of agents hired.




Table I.1: Border Patrol Hiring and Attrition Data, by Month, FY 1999
                            Oct.      Nov.      Dec.      Jan.     Feb.         Mar.       Apr.     May     Jun.      Jul.    Aug.      Sept.
Agents onboard at
start of month            7,982      7,959     8,045     8,017    8,081         8,010     8,038    8,029   8,123 8,155        8,210    8,226
Agents hired                   55      163         48      112         3           79        46      160      85   110           76      189
Attrition                      78        77        76       48        74           51        55       66      53    55           60       64
Percentage of
attrition                     1%        1%        1%       1%        1%           1%         1%      1%       1%      1%        1%        1%
Agents onboard at
end of month              7,959      8,045     8,017     8,081    8,010         8,038     8,029    8,123   8,155 8,210        8,226    8,351
Net gain/(loss)              (23)        86      (28)       64      (71)           28        (9)      94      32    55           16      125
                                            Note: Data were calculated by 2-week pay periods to approximate monthly totals. Percentages are
                                            rounded to the nearest whole number.
                                            Source: GAO analysis of INS data.


                                            Border Patrol annual attrition rates increased from 6 percent in fiscal year
Border Patrol Attrition                     1990 to 9 percent in fiscal year 1999, with some fluctuation in the years
                                            between. In fiscal years 1996, 1997, and 1998, attrition rates reached 11
                                            percent, 12 percent, and 13 percent, respectively.

                                            As shown in table I.2, close to half of the agents who left the Border Patrol
                                            between fiscal years 1994 and 1998 left by the end of their post-Academy
                                            training—the period that follows 19 weeks of basic training and concludes
                                            10 months after being hired.




                                            Page 20                                     GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
                                          Appendix I
                                          Border Patrol Hiring and Attrition Information and Demographic Profile of New Agents




Table I.2: When Border Patrol Attrition Occurred, FYs 1994 Through 1998
                       FY 1994                FY 1995             FY 1996                          FY 1997                    FY 1998
                    Number Percent         Number Percent       Number Percent                   Number Percent             Number Percent
Academy basic
training                 52       26%          103      29%        171    33%                         226        31%             313        35%
Post-Academy
         a
training                 35          18         70        20        93      18                         89          12            113          13
All other               113          57        177        51       256      49                        409          56            458          52
Total                   200        100         350       100       520     100                        724         100            884         100
                                          Note 1: Academy and post-Academy data provided by the Border Patrol Academy. Total attrition data
                                          provided by INS’ Budget Office. GAO calculated the number and percentage of the remaining (“All
                                          other”) agents who separated from the Border Patrol. Fiscal year 1999 data were unavailable at the
                                          time of our review. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.
                                          Note 2: Percentages may not total to 100 due to rounding.
                                          a
                                          Post-Academy training takes place after agents are assigned to the field. Once a week, agents
                                          participate in Spanish and law classes that they must pass to stay with the Border Patrol.
                                          Source: GAO analysis of INS data.


                                          Demographic profiles of new Border Patrol agents have remained fairly
Demographic Profile of                    constant during this period of increased hiring, as shown in table I.3.
New Border Patrol                         Among the changes that did occur from fiscal years 1994 through 1998 was
                                                                                                      1
Agents                                    a decline in the percentage of newly hired Hispanic agents.

Table I.3: Age, Sex, and Race of Border
Patrol New Hires, FYs 1994 Through                                                  FY 1994       FY 1995 FY 1996 FY 1997 FY 1998
1998                                                                                (n=461)      (n=1,005) (n=1,474) (n=1,656) (n=1,901)
                                          Age
                                          (average)                                29 years       27 years 28 years 27 years 27 years
                                          Sex (percent)
                                                             Female                       7%            8%           7%          5%           5%
                                                             Male                          93            92           93          95           95
                                                a
                                          Race (percent)
                                                             Asian/Pacific
                                                             Islander                       1             1            1           1            2
                                                                   b
                                                             Black                          2             3            2           2            2
                                                             Hispanic                      38            37           39          31           28
                                                             Native
                                                             American                       0             1            1           1            0
                                                                   b
                                                             White                         59            55           54          65           67
                                                             Other                          1             3            4           0            0
                                          Note 1: Fiscal year 1999 data were unavailable at the time of our review. Percentages are rounded to
                                          the nearest whole number.

                                          1
                                           Despite this decline, the actual number of Hispanic agents hired increased as INS increased its overall
                                          hiring of Border Patrol agents.




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                                        Appendix I
                                        Border Patrol Hiring and Attrition Information and Demographic Profile of New Agents




                                        Note 2: Percentages may not total to 100 due to rounding.
                                        a
                                         In fiscal year 1997, two records were missing, which accounted for 0.12 percent of the total. In fiscal
                                        year 1998, two records were missing, which accounted for 0.11 percent of the total.
                                        b
                                            Not of Hispanic origin.
                                        Source: GAO analysis of Border Patrol Academy data.


                                        As shown in table I.4, the percentages of new agents who had prior
                                        military and/or law enforcement training experience declined between
                                        fiscal years 1994 and 1995. However, since then, the percentages have
                                        remained fairly constant.

Table I.4: Prior Experience of Border
Patrol New Hires, FYs 1994 Through                                             FY 1994   FY 1995   FY 1996   FY 1997   FY 1998
1998                                                                          (percent) (percent) (percent) (percent) (percent)
                                        Type of experience                      (n=461) (n=1,005) (n=1,474) (n=1,656) (n=1,901)

                                        Prior military experience                   47%           36%           36%           38%             36%
                                        Prior law enforcement training
                                                     a
                                        experience                                     38           30            30            30             30
                                        Note: Fiscal year 1999 data were unavailable at the time of our review.
                                        a
                                         Includes agents who had prior city, county, state, military police, and/or federal law enforcement
                                        training.
                                        Source: GAO analysis of Border Patrol Academy data.


                                        Table I.5 shows the education level of new Border Patrol agents hired from
                                        fiscal years 1994 through 1998. One notable change in the education profile
                                        of new agents was an increase in the percentage of agents who had a
                                        bachelor’s degree when hired.

Table I.5: Education Level of Border
Patrol New Hires, FYs 1994 Through                                          FY 1994          FY 1995      FY 1996       FY 1997        FY 1998
1998                                                                       (percent)        (percent)    (percent)     (percent)      (percent)
                                        Education level                      (n=461)        (n=1,005)    (n=1,474)     (n=1,656)      (n=1,901)
                                        GED                                      2%               2%           2%            2%             2%
                                        High school graduate                      12               10           11            11             10
                                        Technical school graduate                  3                3            3             2              2
                                        Some college                              40               33           32            36             34
                                        Associate’s degree                         9                8            8             8              8
                                        Bachelor’s degree                         28               38           37            36             38
                                        Some graduate school                       4                4            5             4              4
                                        Master’s degree                            2                1            2             2              2
                                        Note 1: The following numbers of records were missing in each year: one in fiscal years 1994 and
                                        1996 (0.22 percent and 0.07 percent, respectively, of the totals); five in fiscal year 1997 (0.30 percent
                                        of the total); and three in fiscal year 1998 (0.16 percent of the total). Fiscal year 1999 data were
                                        unavailable at the time of our review. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.
                                        Note 2: Percentages may not total to 100 due to rounding.
                                        Source: GAO analysis of Border Patrol Academy data.




                                        Page 22                                     GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
Appendix II

INS’ Recruiting Efforts and Hiring Process


                           This appendix provides an overview of INS’ recruitment program, a
                           summary of difficulties INS has faced in trying to meet its hiring goals, and
                           a summary of new initiatives INS is implementing to improve its ability to
                           recruit and hire agents.

                           Since 1996, Border Patrol recruiting efforts have been centralized in INS’
Overview of Recruiting     National Recruitment Program. One of the program’s major goals is to
Program                    generate enough qualified recruits to reach INS’ hiring goals. INS’ national
                           recruitment program includes a variety of activities:

                         • Advertising through a variety of mediums, including magazines,
                           newspapers, the Internet, movie theaters, and billboards.
                         • Targeting key colleges and universities that have substantial numbers of
                           students graduating with degrees in law enforcement, criminal justice, and
                           police science.
                         • Attending recruiting events, such as job fairs and law enforcement officer
                           conferences.
                         • Visiting military bases to recruit departing military personnel who have an
                           interest in law enforcement.

                           In addition, to increase the diversity of the Border Patrol’s workforce, INS’
                           national recruitment program and equal employment opportunity staff
                           work with Border Patrol sectors. Headquarters staff and Border Patrol
                           agents work with interest groups at the local level and participate in
                           conferences, job fairs, and other career events in an effort to attract female
                           and minority applicants.

                           In the past, INS has had success recruiting Border Patrol agents from areas
                           near the southwest border. In fiscal year 1998, INS focused its recruiting
                           efforts on the central and eastern part of the country because it believed it
                           might have exhausted the applicant pool in the southwest. However,
                           recruiting in these other areas was not as successful as INS had hoped. As
                           a result, in fiscal year 1999, INS once again focused its recruiting efforts on
                           locations near the southwest border.

                           INS officials believe a number of factors exist that contribute to INS’
Recruiting and Hiring      difficulties in recruiting and hiring Border Patrol agents. Although not all
Problems                   are unique to the Border Patrol, they nevertheless present recruiting and
                           hiring challenges, such as

                         • difficulty attracting enough eligible applicants,
                         • high failure and withdrawal rates during the hiring process,
                         • lengthy hiring process,



                           Page 23                         GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
                                        Appendix II
                                        INS’ Recruiting Efforts and Hiring Process




                                      • expenses applicants incur, and
                                      • little flexibility in assigned location and start date.

                                        INS does not have data on the extent to which the last three factors affect
                                        its recruiting and hiring efforts.

Difficulty Attracting Enough            INS must attract far more Border Patrol applicants than it intends to hire
                                        because most applicants either do not pass all of the required hiring steps
Eligible Applicants                     or drop out during the process. However, attracting enough eligible
                                        applicants has been difficult. INS officials have pointed to the country’s
                                        strong economy and job market as a major reason for INS’ hiring
                                        problems. They believe the Border Patrol is competing with private and
                                        public employers who can offer jobs in better locations and/or with better
                                        pay. As shown in table II.1, the number of Border Patrol applicants
                                        increased each year through fiscal year 1999, although the number of
                                        agents INS hired increased only through fiscal year 1998.

Table II.1: Number of Border Patrol
Applicants/Agents Hired, by FY                                      FY 1994      FY 1995       FY 1996      FY 1997       FY 1998   FY 1999
                                        Eligible applicants          12,785       23,965        31,387       43,172        48,674    53,441
                                        Agents hireda                   461        1,005         1,517        1,674         1,971     1,126
                                        a
                                            The agents hired each fiscal year did not necessarily apply in that same fiscal year.
                                        Source: INS and OPM.


                                        INS officials provided data on the number of eligible applicants they
                                        attracted each year and the number of agents they hired each year, but
                                        they did not have data on the number of each year’s applicant pool that
                                                                       1
                                        was hired in that same year. However, using the data in table II.1, we
                                        estimated that, in fiscal year 1999, INS hired about 2 percent of its eligible
                                        applicants, compared to 4 to 5 percent in prior years. Although these
                                        percentages are estimates, they nevertheless provide an indication of INS’
                                        need to attract an increasing number of applicants each year. According to
                                        an INS official, the agency would have needed to attract about 75,000
                                        eligible applicants in fiscal year 1999 if it was to meet its goal to increase
                                        the Border Patrol’s onboard strength by 1,000 agents.

High Failure and                        The vast majority of applicants are not being hired as Border Patrol
                                        agents—they either fail one of the steps in the hiring process, or they
Withdrawal Rates                        choose to withdraw. Although this is not unique to the Border Patrol and
                                        other law enforcement agencies also hire few of their applicants, high

                                        1
                                         Because INS does not track applicants across fiscal years, officials could only provide us with the
                                        number of eligible applicants in each year and the number of agents hired in each year.




                                        Page 24                                       GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
                           Appendix II
                           INS’ Recruiting Efforts and Hiring Process




                           dropout rates have made it difficult for INS to meet its hiring goals. To
                           identify trends in the hiring process and to estimate the number of eligible
                           applicants it would need to attract to increase the onboard strength by
                           1,000 agents each year, INS developed estimated dropout and failure rates
                                            2
                           for recent years. According to INS’ estimates:

                         • Seventy-five percent of eligible applicants did not show up for the written
                           examination in fiscal year 1999. The percentage of applicants who did not
                           report for testing increased most years since fiscal year 1996, when INS
                           estimated that 54 percent of eligible applicants did not show up for the
                           written examination.
                         • Thirty percent of applicants who passed the written examination in fiscal
                           year 1999 did not return for their interview. In fiscal year 1998, 43 percent
                           did not return for their interview; in fiscal years 1996 and 1997, about half
                           the applicants did not return.
                         • Forty percent of applicants who passed the interview in fiscal year 1999
                           failed their background investigation. In fiscal year 1998, 15 percent of
                           applicants failed the investigation.
                         • Sixteen percent of applicants who passed the background investigation in
                           fiscal year 1999 failed or did not show up for the medical examination. In
                           fiscal year 1998, 18 percent failed or did not show up for the examination.
                         • Six percent of those who received a final offer in fiscal year 1999 declined
                           it. In fiscal year 1998, 10 percent declined a final offer.

Lengthy Hiring Process     According to an INS hiring official, it has typically taken 6 months to 1 year
                           to hire a Border Patrol agent under INS’ standard hiring process. Other law
                           enforcement agencies have a similarly long hiring process, but because
                           Border Patrol’s full performance salary level is low compared to some
                           agencies, INS officials believe its applicants may not be willing to wait 6
                           months to a year for a Border Patrol job offer.

                           Under the standard hiring process, most steps or tests occur sequentially,
                           with various amounts of time elapsing between each. According to an INS
                           official, scheduling the interview and completing the background
                           investigation when suitability issues arise are the main factors affecting
                           the time it takes to hire an agent. Other factors that can increase the time it
                           takes are health issues or a lack of sufficient information provided by the
                           applicant.

                           2
                            INS’ estimates were limited, in part, because it did not begin to track applicants across fiscal years for
                           all steps of the hiring process until January 1999. Dropout and failure rates for fiscal years 1996 and
                           1997 are based on estimates; rates for fiscal years 1998 and 1999 are based on a combination of
                           estimated and actual data.




                           Page 25                                     GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
                           Appendix II
                           INS’ Recruiting Efforts and Hiring Process




                           Prior to November 1998, INS’ Special Examining Unit oversaw the agency’s
                           hiring functions. However, this unit did not closely monitor the time it took
                           to move an applicant through each stage of the hiring process. Without
                           appropriate monitoring of the hiring process, INS was limited in its ability
                           to identify potential inefficiencies and, thus, the process was longer than
                           necessary. For example, INS officials told us that under INS’ contract with
                           OPM to schedule and provide the written examination, OPM must offer the
                           examination within 5 weeks of an applicant’s registration. However,
                           according to an INS official, the Special Examining Unit was not
                           monitoring this step, and OPM was taking 6 weeks or more to provide
                           written testing. In addition, the Special Examining Unit would rely on INS’
                           three administrative centers to schedule applicant interviews, and the
                           centers, in turn, would either schedule the interviews themselves, or turn
                           the task over to the sectors. According to an INS official, this scheduling
                           process was averaging 8 weeks or more. INS officials said that the lack of
                           central oversight allowed for chronic delays that significantly added to the
                           total time it took to hire an agent.

                           INS also experienced delays in scheduling preemployment medical
                           examinations for applicants. INS relies on an outside contractor for
                           applicants’ medical examinations. However, according to one INS official,
                           the contractor was slow in assigning applicants to clinics and did not have
                           a tracking system in place to identify delays. In some cases, it was taking
                           90 days from the time applicants passed their interview to the time they
                           received the results of their medical examination. According to an INS
                           official, at INS’ insistence, the contractor has since established a self-
                           monitoring system to avoid delays and identify situations requiring special
                           attention.

Expedited Hiring Session   In an attempt to shorten the hiring process and attract a greater number of
                           applicants, INS began conducting expedited hiring sessions in fiscal year
                           1996. These expedited sessions, which INS offered in addition to the
                           standard hiring process, were scheduled periodically in higher-activity
                           locations. They allowed applicants to complete the written examination,
                           interview, medical examination, drug screening, and fingerprinting over
                           the course of 2 days. In fiscal year 1997, INS began arranging for media
                           attention in the areas where expedited sessions would be held to heighten
                           awareness of the Border Patrol and increase the number of potential
                           applicants.

                           Initially, this strategy was fairly successful both in expediting the hiring
                           process—typically 2 to 3 months were saved—and increasing the number
                           of agents hired. In fiscal year 1997, 24 percent of all agents hired were



                           Page 26                               GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
                                        Appendix II
                                        INS’ Recruiting Efforts and Hiring Process




                                        processed through expedited hiring sessions, and 4 percent of those who
                                        registered for the expedited sessions were hired. But subsequently, these
                                        sessions produced lower-than-expected turnouts and diminished results.
                                        In fiscal year 1998, only 10 percent of all agents hired resulted from the
                                        expedited process and 2 percent of those who registered for the expedited
                                        sessions were hired, according to INS estimates. According to an INS
                                        official, the expedited hiring sessions in fiscal year 1999 also produced
                                        disappointing turnouts and results. Because of poor results and the
                                        substantial costs associated with administering the expedited sessions,
                                        INS decided to discontinue them. INS officials did not know why the
                                        expedited hiring sessions held in fiscal years 1998 and 1999 yielded
                                        disappointing results.

                                        INS held its last such session in May 1999. Table II.2 shows the results, as
                                        of July 14, 1999, of the last three expedited hiring sessions INS held. As the
                                        expedited hiring process typically takes 3 to 9 months, additional agents
                                        may be hired from these sessions.


Table II.2: Results of Last Expedited
Hiring Sessions, as of July 14, 1999                                                  Tucson            New York         San Diego
                                                                                    Jan. 1999           Mar. 1999         May 1999
                                        Scheduled for expedited                  2,900 (100%)        1,553 (100%)      1,430 (100%)
                                        hiring sessions
                                        Took written examination                     497 (17%)          235 (15%)         303 (21%)
                                        Passed written examination                    143 (5%)            63 (4%)           67 (5%)
                                        Passed interview                              136 (5%)            54 (3%)           65 (5%)
                                        Still being processed                          81 (3%)            43 (3%)           62 (4%)
                                        Security/medical issues                        64 (2%)            38 (2%)           42 (3%)
                                        Accepted final offer                         14 (< 1%)           4 (< 1%)                 0
                                        Hireda                                         32 (1%)           7 (< 1%)                 0
                                        a
                                            Numbers represent those hired as of July 14, 1999.
                                        Source: GAO analysis of OPM and INS’ National Hiring Center data.


Expenses Applicants Incur               INS believes the expenses that applicants incur during the hiring process
                                        serve as a deterrent and, thus, have contributed to the agency’s hiring
                                        difficulties. According to INS, Border Patrol applicants can spend up to
                                        $1,500 of their own money travelling to the written examination site and
                                        the interview site, and reporting for duty. Recruits must get to their duty
                                        station at their own expense, and once there, typically incur the cost of
                                        several nights at a hotel before going to the Border Patrol Academy.

Little Flexibility in Assigned          INS officials believe that INS’ lack of flexibility in assigning location and
                                        start date may have contributed to some applicants turning down Border
Location and Start Date                 Patrol offers in the past. They explained that INS provided newly hired



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                     Appendix II
                     INS’ Recruiting Efforts and Hiring Process




                     agents with little choice in the location to which they were assigned, and
                     provided short notice for new agents to report for duty.

                     Traditionally, INS offered newly hired Border Patrol agents little choice in
                     their first duty station, in part, because the Border Patrol wanted new
                     agents assigned to stations outside their home state. According to a 1989
                                 3
                     INS study, new agents were not assigned to their home state out of
                     concern that those agents might be more susceptible to bribery and
                     corruption. However, neither INS nor the Border Patrol had data to
                     support this conclusion, and the study strongly recommended that the
                     practice be eliminated.

                     According to a Border Patrol Academy official, as hiring problems
                     developed and filling training classes became a problem, INS began giving
                     newly hired agents relatively little time to report for duty and training.
                     Officials told us they believed that providing short notice might have been
                     a factor in Border Patrol recruits turning down job offers.

                     The Border Patrol Academy conducted a survey of 10 training classes that
                     took place in fiscal year 1998 and found that new hires received an average
                     of 14 days’ notice to report for duty. The average notice time for new hires
                     in one of the 10 classes was 7 days, and 1 agent said he received as little as
                     1 day’s notice. Traditionally, INS had tried to give new hires 30 days’ notice
                     to make necessary personal arrangements. Agency officials told us that 30
                     days’ notice seems appropriate, since agents must report for a 19-week
                     training program in either Georgia or South Carolina within the first days
                     of coming on duty, and training is typically followed by relocation.

                     In the face of INS’ hiring difficulties, the INS Commissioner convened a
New Recruiting and   working group in January 1999 to review INS’ recruiting plan and hiring
Hiring Initiatives   process. The group made changes to both processes and has plans for
                     further short- and long-term changes that it expects will improve INS’
                     ability to recruit and hire Border Patrol agents. The Commissioner has
                     redirected $2.2 million to implementing these initiatives and is willing to
                     redirect more funds if needed. The $2.2 million became available after INS
                     cancelled 10 fiscal year 1999 training classes due to insufficient numbers
                     of new hires.




                     3
                      Why Are We Losing Our Human Resources: A Review of Attrition and Training Problems (U.S.
                     Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service), October 1989.




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                             Appendix II
                             INS’ Recruiting Efforts and Hiring Process




                             The following new recruiting initiatives are intended to increase Border
                             Patrol sectors’ involvement in the recruiting process and increase the
                             number of people interested in the Border Patrol:

                         •   training over 200 Border Patrol agents as recruiters,
                         •   establishing recruitment coordinators in each sector,
                         •   establishing a toll-free job information line, and
                         •   considering future recruiting bonuses.

                             Most of the following hiring initiatives are intended to reduce the time of
                             the entire hiring process, from the time the applicant signs up to take the
                             written examination, to the time INS makes the applicant a final job offer:

                         • conducting written tests sooner,
                         • scheduling interviews centrally,
                         • monitoring the scheduling of medical examinations,
                         • offering “compressed testing” at six locations,
                         • surveying applicants who did and did not show up for the written test,
                         • allowing more choice in job locations among the southwest border sectors,
                           and
                         • allowing more flexibility in start dates.

Recruiting Initiatives       The working group developed a series of recruiting initiatives aimed at
                             increasing local outreach and heightening local awareness of the Border
                             Patrol. Even before INS developed these new initiatives, it had
                             significantly increased the number of activities in which its National
                             Recruitment Program was involved during fiscal year 1999.

                             One of the major new initiatives involves using Border Patrol agents as
                             recruiters. INS contracted with the same firm that trains U.S. Marine Corps
                             recruiters to train Border Patrol agents as recruiters. In June and July
                             1999, the contractor provided such training to more than 200 Border Patrol
                             agents. INS also established recruitment coordinators for each Border
                             Patrol sector, who have developed local recruiting plans for the Border
                             Patrol recruiters to implement. These local plans include universities,
                             colleges, and community colleges; military bases and facilities; and local
                             events. According to an INS official, these plans involve increased
                             emphasis at the local level, including more recruiting at community
                             colleges.

                             In May 1999, INS established a toll-free job information line for potential
                             Border Patrol applicants. The information line provides the caller with the
                             following information: how to apply, answers to frequently asked


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                     Appendix II
                     INS’ Recruiting Efforts and Hiring Process




                     questions, duties and qualifications, physical requirements, and an
                     overview of the hiring process. According to an October 1999 INS report,
                     the toll-free line was averaging more than 2,000 calls per week.

                     As part of its initiatives, INS officials are also considering providing
                     recruiting bonuses. Such a bonus would take the form of a “signing bonus”
                     for newly hired agents.

Hiring Initiatives   INS officials have begun implementing a set of hiring initiatives aimed at
                     retaining more applicants through the hiring process so that, in the end,
                     they hire a greater percentage of applicants. Several of the initiatives are
                     focused on reducing the time it takes for an applicant to move through the
                     hiring process because officials believe the length of the process has hurt
                     INS’ ability to hire more Border Patrol agents. INS’ transfer of Border
                     Patrol hiring functions to its National Hiring Center in Twin Cities,
                     Minnesota, in early fiscal year 1999, has improved monitoring of the hiring
                     process.

                     The hiring initiatives include a goal to reduce INS’ overall standard hiring
                     process—from the point an applicant is scheduled for the written
                     examination through the Telephone Application Processing System to the
                     point an applicant receives a final job offer—by at least 1 to 2 months.
                     Thus, an applicant could move through the hiring process in 4 to 5 months
                     if no issues complicate the applicant’s medical examination or background
                     investigation. One focus of INS’ initiatives has been to shorten the time
                     from when an applicant is first scheduled for the written examination
                     through the Telephone Application Processing System to the time the
                     applicant takes the examination. INS’ National Hiring Center has been
                     tracking OPM’s efforts and working with OPM to shorten this step by at
                     least 1 week.

                     INS also expects to reduce the hiring process by 1 to 4 weeks through the
                     centralized scheduling of applicant interviews. Under the new initiatives,
                     INS’ National Hiring Center is working directly with the sectors to
                     schedule interviews, thus eliminating INS administrative centers from the
                     process. The National Hiring Center has begun monitoring the time it takes
                     sectors to schedule interviews and is producing internal reports that
                     identify sectors that are lagging behind.

                     The National Hiring Center is now also involved in the process of referring
                     applicants to INS medical contractors for the required medical
                     examination. With the center’s involvement, and its electronic tracking of
                     this step, officials anticipate they can cut in half—from 90 to 45 days—the



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Appendix II
INS’ Recruiting Efforts and Hiring Process




time between an applicant passing the interview and receiving the medical
examination results.

In addition to its standard hiring process, INS is now offering “compressed
testing” to reduce the time it takes to hire an agent. INS is conducting
compressed testing at six locations, five of which are near the southwest
border, that collectively account for more than half of the past Border
Patrol applicants. Compressed testing will allow the written examination
and interview to take place, independent of each other, at these locations
at 2-week intervals. Officials hope that compressed testing will reduce the
entire hiring process to 3 to 4 months in cases where no issues complicate
the applicant’s medical examination or background investigation.

In a further effort to improve hiring, INS has contracted with a firm to
conduct telephone surveys of applicants who take the written
examination, as well as those who are scheduled to take the written
examination, but do not report for testing. The survey of applicants who
take the examination will obtain feedback on the initial part of the
application process, such as the amount of time that passed between
applying to take the written examination and taking the examination. The
survey of applicants who do not report for testing will ask for the
applicants’ reasons for not reporting. Officials hope these efforts will help
them improve the hiring process and increase their understanding about
why potential recruits seem to lose interest before the hiring process really
begins. As of September 1999, the development of the two surveys was
well under way.

Hiring initiatives also include allowing recruits a choice of location among
the southwest border sectors to which they can be assigned in the hope
that more recruits will accept job offers. INS has taken the position that
the Border Patrol needs to be more flexible on this matter if hiring is to
improve, and it is asking recruits to identify two preferences out of four
general geographic locations along the southwest border. Even before the
new initiatives, the Border Patrol agreed to begin allowing more flexibility,
and this has increased under the new initiatives. Although new agents are
not assigned to their home station, they can now be assigned to their home
state or home sector.

As previously discussed, INS officials recognize that providing recruits
with little notice to report for training may have contributed to job
declinations or resignations during basic training. INS officials have the
goal of providing recruits with 30 days’ notice to report for duty. According
to a National Hiring Center official, this goal is not always achieved, but



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Appendix II
INS’ Recruiting Efforts and Hiring Process




staff work directly with recruits to arrange as much notice as possible and
find a mutually acceptable reporting date.




Page 32                               GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
Appendix III

Changes in Agents’ Years of Experience and
Ratio of Agents to Supervisor

                          This appendix provides information on how the general composition of the
                          Border Patrol has changed as it has increased in size. As the relative
                          number of agents within each grade level has changed, so too has the
                          average level of experience among agents. The average years of service
                          among agents has declined both agencywide and in the sectors along the
                          southwest border. Also affected by the Border Patrol’s rapid growth has
                          been the average number of nonsupervisory agents assigned to each GS-12
                          supervisory agent.

                          Between fiscal years 1994 and 1998, the size of the Border Patrol increased
Border Patrol Growth      dramatically, causing a considerable shift in agents’ average years of
Led to Shifts in Grade-   experience, both agencywide and along the southwest border. At the start
Level Composition         of fiscal year 1999, 92 percent of all Border Patrol agents were assigned to
                          the nine sectors along the southwest border. (See app. IV for a map
                          showing the southwest border sectors.) Table III.1 provides data on how
                          the number and percentage of agents at each grade level in the southwest
                          border sectors changed from fiscal year 1994 to fiscal year 1998. Almost all
                          of the nine sectors experienced notable increases in the number of agents
                          onboard between these years, with one sector—Tucson—more than
                          tripling the size of its workforce. More significantly, because all new
                          agents are deployed to the southwest border after completing basic
                          training, the relative number of GS-5 and GS-7 agents in these sectors
                          increased dramatically.




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                                         Appendix III
                                         Changes in Agents’ Years of Experience and Ratio of Agents to Supervisor




Table III.1: Number and Percentage of
Agents by Grade Level in the Southwest                                               Grade level of agents
Border Sectors                                                              GS-5              GS-7         GS-9
                                         Southwest border sectors       Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
                                         San Diego
                                          1994                               227      18%           85      7%      640    50%
                                          1998                               123        5          371       16     968      43
                                         El Centro
                                          1994                                 0         0           0        0     103      56
                                          1998                                50        13         120       32      76      20
                                         Yuma
                                          1994                                 0         0           0        0     120      59
                                          1998                                29        13          46       21      53      24
                                         Tucson
                                          1994                                 0         0           0        0     178      64
                                          1998                               117        12         190       19     437      43
                                         El Paso
                                          1994                                34         5          28        4     382      60
                                          1998                                52         5         164       17     388      40
                                         Marfa
                                          1994                                 0         0           0        0      70      56
                                          1998                                31        20           8        5      50      32
                                         Del Rio
                                          1994                                 0         0           0        0     167      59
                                          1998                               104        18          85       15     179      31
                                         Laredo
                                          1994                                 0         0           0        0     206      62
                                          1998                               120        19         107       17     173      28
                                         McAllen
                                          1994                                 0         0           2        1     256      66
                                          1998                               160        15         295       27     336      31




                                         Page 34                              GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
                                   Appendix III
                                   Changes in Agents’ Years of Experience and Ratio of Agents to Supervisor




                                   Grade level of agents
    GS-11             GS-12                GS-13             GS-14                         GS-15                    Total number of
Number Percent    Number Percent     Number Percent      Number Percent                Number Percent                       agents

    158    12%        132    10%             16        1%           12          1%              2         0%                      1,272
    530      23       201      9             48         2           14           1              1          0                      2,257

     46      25        22     12              7          4             6          3             1           1                      185
     77      20        37     10             10          3             7          2             1           0                      378

     36      21        22     13              6          3             5          3             1           1                      172
     53      24        29     13              6          3             7          3             1           0                      224

     54      20        29     11              6          2             7          3             2           1                       276
    152      15        80      8             23          2             9          1             2           0                     1,010

    119      19        59      9              9          1             8          1             2           0                      641
    222      23        98     10             27          3             8          1             2           0                      962

     30      24        17     14              3          2             3          2             1           1                      124
     38      24        21     13              4          3             5          3             1           1                      158

     61      22        35     12             11          4             7          2             2           1                      283
    125      22        64     11             14          2             7          1             2           0                      580

     73      22        37     11              6          2             8          2             2           1                      332
    143      23        59      9             11          2             8          1             2           0                      623

     73      19        36      9              8          2             8          2             2           1                       385
    187      17        99      9             13          1             8          1             2           0                     1,100
                                   Note: Data do not include Border Patrol pilots. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole
                                   number.
                                   Source: GAO analysis of INS data.


                                   Agencywide, the percentage of relatively inexperienced Border Patrol
Agents’ Average Years              agents increased significantly between fiscal year 1994 and fiscal year
of Experience                      1998. As shown in table III.2, the percentage of agents with 2 years or less
Declined                           experience almost tripled agencywide, from 12 percent to 35 percent. In
                                   contrast, the percentage of agents with 5 or more years of service declined,
                                   from 74 percent of all agents to 40 percent.




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                                              Appendix III
                                              Changes in Agents’ Years of Experience and Ratio of Agents to Supervisor




Table III.2: Years of Service of All Border
Patrol Agents, FYs 1994 and 1998              Years of service                                            FY 1994                            FY 1998
                                              1 or less                                                       9%                                20%
                                              More than 1; up to 2                                              3                                 15
                                              More than 2; up to 3                                             10                                 14
                                              More than 3; up to 4                                              3                                  8
                                              More than 4; up to 5                                              2                                  3
                                              More than 5; up to 8                                             26                                  7
                                              More than 8; up to 10                                            17                                  3
                                              10 or more                                                       31                                 30
                                              Number of agents                                              4,226                              7,904
                                              Note: All data are as of the end of the designated fiscal year. Data do not include Border Patrol pilots.
                                              Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.
                                              Source: GAO analysis of INS data.


                                              Table III.3 shows changes in the level of experience of agents assigned to
                                              the southwest border. For example, between fiscal year 1994 and fiscal
                                              year 1998, the percentage of agents with 3 years of service or less more
                                              than doubled, from 26 percent to 54 percent. In contrast, the percentage of
                                              agents with 5 or more years of experience declined, from 70 percent in
                                              fiscal year 1994 to 36 percent in fiscal year 1998.

Table III.3: Years of Service of Border
Patrol Agents on the Southwest Border,        Years of service                                            FY 1994                            FY 1998
FYs 1994 and 1998                             1 or less                                                      10%                                22%
                                              More than 1; up to 2                                              4                                 17
                                              More than 2; up to 3                                             12                                 15
                                              More than 3; up to 4                                              3                                  9
                                              More than 4; up to 5                                              2                                  3
                                              More than 5; up to 8                                             28                                  7
                                              More than 8; up to 10                                            17                                  3
                                              10 or more                                                       25                                 26
                                              Number of agents                                              3,670                              7,292
                                              Note: All data are as of the end of the designated fiscal year. Data do not include Border Patrol pilots.
                                              Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.
                                              Source: GAO analysis of INS data.


                                              As table III.4 demonstrates, between fiscal year 1994 and fiscal year 1998,
                                              all nine of the southwest border sectors saw increases in the percentage of
                                              relatively inexperienced agents, with some sectors experiencing dramatic
                                              increases. For example, in fiscal year 1994, 2 percent of the agents at the El
                                              Centro sector had 2 years of experience or less but, by fiscal year 1998, 59
                                              percent of the agents had 2 years of experience or less. The McAllen sector
                                              also experienced dramatic increases—only 1 percent of its agents in fiscal
                                              year 1994 had 2 years of experience or less but, by fiscal year 1998, 54
                                              percent of its agents had 2 years of experience or less. The percentage of




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                                         Appendix III
                                         Changes in Agents’ Years of Experience and Ratio of Agents to Supervisor




                                         agents in the Tucson sector with 3 years of experience or less increased
                                         from 18 percent in fiscal year 1994 to 64 percent by fiscal year 1998.


Table III.4: Years of Service of Border Patrol Agents in Southwest Border Sectors, FYs 1994 and 1998
                                                            Years of service
Southwest                     More than More than More than           More than  More than More than More than                     Number
border sectors 1 or less       1; up to 2  2; up to 3   3; up to 4    4; up to 5 5; up to 8 8; up to 10     10                    of agents
San Diego
 1994                  24%            5%        14%            6%            5%        19%         13%    15%                           1,272
 1998                    12            18          25            8             8          8           4     18                          2,257
El Centro
 1994                     0             2           4            0             0         34          33     27                           185
 1998                    39            20           4            6             2          2           1     25                           378
Yuma
 1994                     0             1           4            1             0         40          26     28                           172
 1998                    31            12           2            5             1          3           1     45                           224
Tucson
 1994                     0             2          16            1             0         32          17     33                            276
 1998                    20            18          26            8             1          5           1     21                          1,010
El Paso
 1994                    10             5           9            4             0         25          18     29                           641
 1998                    15            14          14           12             3          7           3     33                           962
Marfa
 1994                     0             4           8            0             0         34          15     40                           124
 1998                    24            13           6            8             0          7           2     40                           158
Del Rio
 1994                     0             0           0            0             0         40          25     35                           283
 1998                    26            13           3           16             1          2           2     36                           580
Laredo
 1994                     0             4          14            0             0         38          17     27                           332
 1998                    33            12           4           11             0          9           3     29                           623
McAllen
 1994                     0             1          22            3             0         29          16     28                            385
 1998                    34            20           4            5             0          9           2     26                          1,100
                                         Note: Data do not include Border Patrol pilots. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole
                                         number.
                                         Source: GAO analysis of INS data.


                                         As a result of the increased hiring of Border Patrol agents, the ratio of
Average Number of                        nonsupervisory agents (GS-5 through GS-11) to one GS-12 supervisory
Agents Per Supervisor                    agent increased across the Border Patrol—from 7 to 1 in fiscal year 1994 to
Increased                                8 to 1 in fiscal year 1998. The ratio of nonsupervisory agents assigned to
                                         one supervisory agent also increased among the southwest border sectors,
                                         from 8 to 1 to 9.2 to 1. Almost all of the nine southwest border sectors saw
                                         the span of supervision increase. As table III.5 illustrates, this increase
                                         varied among the sectors. At one extreme, in the Tucson sector, the ratio



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                                          Appendix III
                                          Changes in Agents’ Years of Experience and Ratio of Agents to Supervisor




                                          of nonsupervisory agents to one supervisory agent increased from 8 to 1 to
                                          11.2 to 1. In contrast, in the El Paso sector, the ratio of nonsupervisory
                                          agents to one supervisory agent decreased between these years, from 9.5
                                          to 1 to 8.4 to 1.

Table III.5: Ratios of Nonsupervisory
Agents (GS-5 to GS-11) to a Supervisory                                                           FY 1994                      FY 1998
Agent (GS-12), FYs 1994 and 1998          All Border Patrol                                         7.0 : 1                      8.0 : 1
                                          Southwest Border                                          8.0 : 1                      9.2 : 1
                                          Southwest Border Sectors
                                           San Diego                                                8.4 : 1                      9.9 : 1
                                           El Centro                                                6.8 : 1                      8.7 : 1
                                           Yuma                                                     6.3 : 1                      6.2 : 1
                                           Tucson                                                   8.0 : 1                     11.2 : 1
                                           El Paso                                                  9.5 : 1                      8.4 : 1
                                           Marfa                                                    5.9 : 1                      6.0 : 1
                                           Del Rio                                                  6.5 : 1                      7.7 : 1
                                           Laredo                                                   7.5 : 1                      9.2 : 1
                                           McAllen                                                  9.2 : 1                      9.9 : 1
                                          Note: Data do not include Border Patrol pilots.
                                          Source: GAO analysis of INS data.




                                          Page 38                                    GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
Appendix IV

Map of Border Patrol Sectors Along the
Southwest Border

Figure IV.1: Southwest Border Patrol Sectors




                                          Source: U.S. Border Patrol.




                                          Page 39                       GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
Appendix V

Border Patrol Academy’s Basic Training
Capacity

                                          New Border Patrol agents are sent to the Border Patrol Academy for a 19-
Overview of Border                        week basic training program within days of reporting for duty at their
Patrol Academy Basic                      assigned sectors. The basic training program covers six subject areas: (1)
Training                                  Spanish, (2) law, (3) operations, (4) physical training, (5) firearms, and (6)
                                          driver training, and agents must pass all subjects to graduate. As shown in
                                          table V.1, the number of agents who received basic training has grown
                                          substantially since fiscal year 1994.


Table V.1: Border Patrol Agents Receiving Basic Training, FYs 1994 Through 1999
                                   Resigned or                           Did not graduate                                Graduated
                                                               a
Fiscal year      Began training     terminated             COP          (number)      (percent)                       (number)   (percent)
1994                        461                52                  25                   77             17%                   384            83%
1995                      1,005               103                  27                  130               13                  875              87
1996                      1,474               171                  47                  218               15                1,256              85
1997                      1,654               226                  33                  259               16                1,395              84
1998                      1,901               313                  56                  369               19                1,532              81
     b
1999                        587               106                  13                  119               20                  468              80
                                          a
                                           Continuation of Pay (COP) represents trainees who have been recycled to another Academy session
                                          due to a compensable injury incurred during training. No separation action was initiated and they
                                          should return to a later Academy session.
                                          b
                                              Fiscal year 1999 data reflect only classes that had graduated as of September 30, 1999.
                                          Source: INS and Border Patrol Academy.


                                          Table V.I also shows the number and percentage of agents who did not
                                          graduate each year. Agents who do not graduate are those who (1) fail to
                                          receive a passing grade of 70 percent in any subject area and are, thus,
                                          terminated; (2) are injured during training and receive COP; or (3) resign.

                                          The Academy has developed a training projection for fiscal years 2001
                                          through 2005 for planning purposes. Table V.2 highlights the Academy’s 5-
                                          year training projection, which calls for a gradually increasing number of
                                          new agents each fiscal year.

Table V.2: Border Patrol Basic Training
5-Year Projection, FYs 2001 Through       Fiscal year                                                                                   Trainees
2005                                      2001                                                                                             2,300
                                          2002                                                                                             2,417
                                          2003                                                                                             2,534
                                          2004                                                                                             2,651
                                          2005                                                                                             2,768
                                          Source: Border Patrol Academy.


                                          The Academy relies on both permanent and detailed instructors to provide
Academy Instructors                       basic training. Detailed instructors are Border Patrol agents—GS-9 or



                                          Page 40                                     GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
                                          Appendix V
                                          Border Patrol Academy’s Basic Training Capacity




                                          above—who are recruited from the field to work as instructors on a
                                          temporary basis—usually for 1 or 2 of the 19-week sessions. Table V.3
                                          shows the number of Border Patrol instructors assigned to the Academy
                                          for fiscal years 1994 through 1998.

Table V.3: Number of Border Patrol
Instructors, FYs 1994 Through 1998                                                       FY1994      FY1995        FY1996        FY1997        FY1998
                                          Permanent instructors                              33          40            63            82            80
                                            Glynco, Georgia                                  33          40            41            31            32
                                                                                               a           a
                                            Charleston, South Carolina                     N/A          N/A            22            51            48
                                                                     b
                                          Detailed instructors                               42           183            159          225           267
                                          Total                                              75           223            222          307           347
                                          a
                                              Not applicable. Border Patrol training did not begin at the Charleston facility until fiscal year 1996.
                                          b
                                            Numbers only include detailed instructors who taught Spanish, law, and operations. The Border
                                          Patrol Academy could not provide the number of detailed instructors who taught driver training,
                                          firearms training, or physical training classes.
                                          Source: GAO analysis of Border Patrol Academy data.


                                          As the number of trainees has increased, the Academy has increasingly
                                          relied on detailed instructors. In fiscal year 1995, the Academy more than
                                          quadrupled the number of detailed instructors onboard. In fiscal year 1998,
                                          more than 75 percent of instructors who taught at the Academy were
                                          detailed from the field. Because the Academy could not provide us with
                                          data on all its detailed instructors, these percentages actually
                                          underrepresent the Academy’s reliance on detailed instructors.

                                          Trainees’ overall grade averages have remained relatively constant since
Basic Training Grades                     fiscal year 1994, as shown in table V.4, despite the large influx of trainees
                                          and detailed instructors.

Table V.4: Border Patrol Basic Training                                              a                b
Final Grade Averages, FYs 1994                                             FY 1994          FY 1995         FY 1996          FY 1997          FY 1998
Through 1998                                                              (percent)        (percent)       (percent)        (percent)        (percent)
                                          Overall final grade
                                                   c
                                          average                               87.6               86.5           86.6            86.5             86.2
                                          Law grade average                     85.1               83.7           83.0            83.6             84.0
                                          Spanish grade
                                          average                               89.3               88.3           88.8            88.1             87.8
                                          a
                                              Data were not available for 1 of the 10 sessions conducted in fiscal year 1994.
                                          b
                                              Data were not available for 2 of the 20 sessions conducted in fiscal year 1995.
                                          c
                                           Includes grades for all six Academy subjects: physical training, firearms training, driver training,
                                          operations, law, and Spanish.
                                          Source: GAO analysis of Border Patrol Academy data.




                                          Page 41                                          GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
                         Appendix V
                         Border Patrol Academy’s Basic Training Capacity




                         In fiscal year 1996, INS expanded its existing Border Patrol training
Charleston Facility As   capacity by opening a temporary, satellite training facility at a former naval
a Temporary Training     station in Charleston, South Carolina. To make the facility suitable for
Site                     training, INS spent more than $5 million constructing new firing and
                         driving ranges and reconfiguring existing structures into classrooms and
                         dormitories, as well as a fitness center. In fiscal years 1998 and 1999, INS
                         received about $16 million for additional facility renovations, including the
                         consolidation of management, instructor, and administrative offices into a
                         single building, and the development of an “after-hours” study facility and
                         an athletic center.

                         INS and FLETC officials have different views on how long the Charleston
                         facility will need to remain open to provide training. When INS began using
                         the facility in fiscal year 1996, it anticipated closing the Charleston facility
                         once FLETC had the capacity to accommodate all of INS’ training needs.
                         At that time, both FLETC and INS expected the facility to operate for
                         about 3 years. However, in April 1999, FLETC indicated that it would not
                         be ready to assume the Charleston facility’s training load until fiscal year
                         2001. In October 1999, a FLETC official told us that FLETC had readjusted
                         its April 1999 estimate to the end of fiscal year 2004, or earlier if Border
                         Patrol hiring is less than expected or if funds are appropriated sooner. He
                         explained that the agency’s estimate is based on its ability to reabsorb all
                         Border Patrol training currently held at the Charleston facility. In October
                         1999, an INS official told us that INS expected the Charleston facility could
                         be closed sometime between fiscal years 2004 and 2006. INS’ estimate is
                         premised on FLETC’s ability to accommodate all of INS’ training needs,
                         which are dependent on INS’ future hiring requirements and its ability to
                         meet those requirements.




                         Page 42                             GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
Appendix VI

GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments


                  Richard M. Stana, (202) 512-8777
GAO Contacts      James M. Blume, (202) 512-8777



                  Lori A. Weiss
Acknowledgments   Barbara A. Guffy
                  Jennifer Y. Kim
                  Marianne C. Cantwell
                  David P. Alexander
                  Michelle A. Sager




                  Page 43                       GAO/GGD-00-39 Fiscal Year 1999 Hiring Goal Not Met
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