United States General Accounting Office Report to the Regional Commissioner, U.S. Customs Setiice, New York Region September 1990 CUSTOMS AUTOMATION Weaknessesin , Revenue Collection at John F. Kennedy International Airport GAO,‘IMTEC-90-16 .:“..1.. . .‘. L I I; ‘- United States GAO General Accounting Office New York Regional Office 7 World Trade Center, Floor 25 New York, New York 10048 B-240920 September 27,199O Mr. Anthony M. Liberta Regional Commissioner U.S. Customs Service New York Region 6 World Trade Center New York, New York 10048 Dear Mr. Liberta: As a result of our recent review of Customs duties and other collections, conducted at three ports of entry, including John F. Kennedy Interna- tional Airport (JFK), we reported that the lack of internal controls over prenumbered collection documents and the number of unaccounted-for documents provide an enormous potential for fraud and abuse.1 During that review we found certain other weaknesses at the JFK Area Office in the physical security of revenue, accountability over prenumbered col- lection documents, and the timeliness of these revenue deposits-weak- nesses that deserve your attention. In fiscal year 1989 the Customs Service reported that almost $2 billion in duties and other revenue was collected at JFK. Of that $2 billion, at least $23 million was collected using prenumbered collection docu- ments-customs Cash Receipt (CF-5104) and Informal Entry (CF-6119- A) documents. As you know, the cash receipt is used for recording taxes, fees, passenger duties, and any collection where a collection docu- ment does not exist. The informal entry is used t,o record the collection of duties and other amounts due from importers and brokers valued at under $1,250. Both of these documents are issued to inspectors and other personnel in books of 50. Physical security weaknesses exist at the cashier’s office in the JFK Area Results in Brief Office where revenues are controlled and deposited. Accountability and storage procedures for prenumbered collection documents are lax and deposits of certain revenues are untimely. These three weaknesses, pre- viously reported to your office by Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs in March 1989,* for the most part still existed at the time of our review. ‘Customs Automation: Duties and Other Collections Vulnerable to Fraud and Abuse (GAO/ 1~430-29, Feb.28,1000~. 2Final Report of Audit 8%NY 4 Kational Audit of Collections, New York Region, U.S. Customs Ser- vice, Office of Internal Affairs, New York, New York (March 24, 1080). Page 1 GAO/lMTEGSO-16 Customs Revenue Collection at JFK 5240920 by Customs employees’ not adhering to stated procedures for control of such documents. To address these problems the JFKArea Office has reduced the number of prenumbered collection documents and the number of employees to whom the documents are assigned. The office also intends to provide locked cabinets as necessary for the storage of these documents. Several instances were uncovered in which the JFXArea Office was not Untimely Deposits of depositing revenue it collected using the prenumbered collection docu- Revenue ments on time, as required by Treasury and Customs regulations. For example, over half of the $153,016 in deposits we analyzed were between 1 and 34 days late. As a result, the Treasury is losing interest on these funds. This was also noted in the March 1989 Customs Internal Affairs report. We also found that (1) the Automated Commercial System (Am), which provides Customs management with deposit infor- mation, contained incorrect collection dates for some deposits, making them appear as if they were deposited on time; and (2) some inspectors were not turning their collections in to the cashier’s office by the end of the next business day, as required. The Customs Assistant Area Director, Entry Division, agreed with our findings. He said the JFK Area Office plans to increase the cashier’s office staff to assure that all rev- enue is deposited on time and that ACS reflects accurate collection information. The weaknesses we identified at JFK substantially increase the vulnera- Conclusion and bility of the Customs Area Office to fraud, waste, and abuse. Accord- Recommendations ingly, we recommend that you ensure that all corrective actions planned by the Customs Area Office, or underway as described in this report, are carried out. We also recommend that you ensure that supervisors follow stated poli- cies and procedures and that they reinforce the importance of these directives to their staffs. Appendix I contains details on the matters discussed herein. Our objec- tives, scope, and methodology are described in appendix II. Major con- tributors to this report are listed in appendix III. Copies of this report are being sent to the Secretary of the Treasury, the Commissioner of Customs, and other interested parties. Copies will also be made available to others upon request. Our review was conducted in accordance with Page 3 GAO/IMTEG90-16 Customs Revenue Collection at JFK Page 6 GAO/IMTEGW16 Custmm Revenue Cdlection at JFK Page 7 GAO/lMTECXW-16 Customs Revenue C!oUection at JFK Appendix I DetaibofourF%ndinga area, one could gain access to the cashier’s cage by opening the unlocked door. Inside the cashier’s cage are two safes where duties and other col- lections and related documents are stored. We also observed in the cashier’s cage that checks relating to both prenumbered collection documents and formal entries were left out in public view on desktops or in trays. They were not stored in either of the two safes in the cashier’s cage while awaiting input into ACS, endorsement, and courier transport to the bank. In October 1989, we witnessed a non-Customs Service person enter the cashier’s cage, where- upon the supervisor immediately instructed this person to leave the cage and return to the presentation area. Twice in November 1989 we observed that the two-door, approximately 6-foot-high safe was not locked. This safe contains an authorized $30,000 imprest fund. Staff other than those authorized to use the safe work in the cashier’s cage. We also observed a gap in the ceiling that could permit unauthorized entry into the cashier’s cage. Inadequate Separation of Our review of the cashier’s office activities disclosed a separation-of- Duties duties issue. Specifically, we observed that one cashier who received checks also prepared prenumbered collection documents and entered $57,000 in collections into ACS. We were also told that other cashiers who receive checks also write the prenumbered collection document and record the collections in ACS. GAO Title 24 states that key duties and responsibilities in authorizing, processing, recording, and reviewing transactions should be separated among individuals, and no individual should control all key aspects of a transaction or event. Status of Customs’ We discussed these conditions with the Customs Assistant Area Corrective Actions Director, Entry Division, and were told that the physical safeguard weaknesses were caused by a lack of adequate funding for improve- ments and the failure of Customs employees to follow established proce- dures; and that the separation-of-duties weakness was the result of staff shortages. 4Title 4, Appendix 11,GAO Pohcy and Procedures Manual for Guidance of Federal Agencies, May 1988. Page 9 GAO/IMTEG9O-16 Customs Revenue C!~Ilectlon at JFK Appendix I Details of Our Findings month period, Customs found 19 of the 25 documents, reported 2 as stolen, and could not account for the remaining 4. Regional Directive II-21 lo-05 and JFK Area Office Directive II-K-21 lo-04 state that if an employee resigns, transfers, or is detailed to another sec- tion, unit, or team, it is the supervisor’s responsibility to collect and verify the used and unused documents assigned to that employee. This statement is underlined, stressing its importance. Customs supervisors were not, however, following these directives for controlling and accounting for prenumbered documents and therefore could not initially locate or account for any of the 25 documents we selected. Some of the reasons why the JFK Area Office could not immediately locate the 25 documents were that (1) inspectors took their documents with them when they transferred to other ports, (2) employees left or retired from Customs and did not return their documents, and (3) supervisors who signed for documents “had no recollection or records. . .” In addition, in March 1988, the JFKArea Office issued a directive stating that when a document is lost or stolen, the JFK Area Director must so notify NFC in writing and request that those prenumbered documents be deleted from ACS. This process is not always followed. Although inspectors had reported 2 of the 25 documents as stolen, one as early as 1987, the JFK Area Office took 2 years to report these stolen documents to NFC after the March 1988 local directive was issued. .JF’K AreaOffice Directive II-K-2 1lo-03 and subsequent Directive II-K- 21 lo-04 require all branch chiefs or immediate supervisors to maintain accountability records for documents they distribute to their employees. We interviewed six supervisors, four of whom were selected by Cus- toms,to determine whether they were maintaining logs or other records as required by the .IFK directives. None of the six maintained control logs. One supervisor, after much effort, did provide us with an account- ability record which he constructed at our request. One of the six stated that recordkeeping requirements are “wide open” at the JFK Area Office, in comparison with the stringent accountability records he was required to keep as a Customs supervisor at another port. Too Many Collection In June 1989, JFK Area Office officials estimated that between 300 and Documents in Circulation 400 inspectors and other personnel were issued prenumbered collection documents; however, our work showed that some inspectors are not using these documents at all or are using them infrequently, because in some instances they may have assignments where collections of revenue Page 11 GAO/lMTEGIH)-16 Customs Revenue Collection at JFK Appendix I D&alla of Our Find- off time.” In addition, section 6314.2~ of the Customs Policies and Proce- dures Manual states that “collection ports shall observe a daily cut-off sufficient to allow collections to be deposited on the day received . . . Collections received after the cut-off . . shall be deposited with the fol- lowing day’s collections.” In March 1989, Customs’ Internal Affairs report noted that, in many instances, collections at JFK were not being deposited in a timely manner. Examples were also found in which inspectors were not turning their collections in to the cashier’s office in the prescribed time allowed. Fur- ther, the cashier’s office was not making daily deposits of (1) collections from prenumbered collection documents, (2) mixed cash and check pay- ments made by some brokers for formal entries, and (3) cash collections. As a result, the Treasury is losing interest on funds not deposited on time. These conditions also make these funds more susceptible to loss, theft, or misuse. We did not assess the timing of deposits of revenue resulting from formal entries paid only with checks, because we were told by staff of the Treasury Inspector General that the timeliness of these deposits is being reviewed by them. According to Customs offi- cials, deposits paid entirely by check represent about 97 percent of all revenue collected at JFK. Untimely Deposits of We analyzed all 104 prenumbered collection-document deposits made by RevenueFrom the JFK Area Office for two randomly selected days, November 3 and 6, 1989. We found that 87 of the 104 documents (84 percent), accounting Prenumbered Collection for over half of the $153,016 in revenue collected, were deposited Documents between 1 and 34 days late. The majority of these funds were deposited between 1 and 5 days late, as shown in table 1. Page 13 GAO/IlWIEC~l6 Customs Revenue tilleetion at JFK Appendix I Details of Our Findings Again, the ACS collection date was in error as it showed the deposit as being made on time. We wanted to use ACS to determine the full extent of lost interest on late prenumbered collection document deposits, but could not do so because of the inaccurate collection dates cited above. Even if only half the approximately $23 million received in fiscal year 1989 from prenumbered collection documents was not deposited on time, the Treasury would still lose about $2,500 in interest for each day these deposits were late. The Assistant Area Director, Entry Division, said that because he is shorthanded, he gives priority to processing formal entries and processes all other revenue when there is adequate time. However, after discussing the timeliness issue, he said that he was increasing the cashier’s office staff to ensure that all revenue is processed and depos- ited within 24 hours. He said the incorrect collection date in ACS was a data-entry error, and that this situation would be corrected. While reviewing the timeliness of deposits for prenumbered collection docu- ments, other information affecting the timeliness of deposits from formal entries came to our attention. This is discussed in the section below. Untimely Deposits on During our review involving prenumbered collection documents, we also Mixed Formal Entries and noted late deposits involving some formal entries and cash payments. We found that payments by brokers for formal entries containing both Cash Deposits cash and checks (mixed formal entries) were held in the cashier’s office safe pending the weekly cash count. We were told by the Assistant Area Director, Entry Division, that it is the policy of the area office to hold all cash received for weekly conversion to a cashier’s check; when cash and checks cover the same entry, both are held for the weekly cash count. As can be seen in table 2, a few pennies in cash has held up thousands of dollars in deposits. Page 15 GAO/IMTEC66-16 Cust.mm Revenue Collection at JFK Appendix I Details of Our Findings Inspectors Are Not JFK Area Office’s Local Operating Procedures II-K-21 lo-04 state that documents and money collected by Customs inspectors will be trans- Forwarding Revenueson mitted by the end of the next business day to the cashier’s office. An Time audit completed in September 1989 by Customs’ Inspection and Control Division showed that this is not being done in all instances. In one case, money was not turned in for over 7 months. To determine whether the problem was corrected, we analyzed all 59 prenumbered collection docu- ments in the November 2, 1989, deposit, and found the same problem still existed. Nineteen of the 59 were between 1 and 6 days late, 38 were on time, and 2 had no collection date so their status could not be deter- mined. While the total dollar amount involved was relatively small (about $SOO.OO),we believe that all money collected, regardless of amount, should be turned in to the cashier’s office within the time limit required by Customs’ policies and procedures to reduce the possibility of loss, theft, or misuse. The Assistant Area Director, Entry Division, agreed and said that the area office would reemphasize to its inspectors the importance of turning in revenue when due. Page 17 GAO/IMTEGP6-16 Customs Revenue Collection at JPK Appendix 11 Objectives, Scope, and Methodology entries with payments containing both cash and a check. These pay- ments were held in the safe pending the weekly cash count. That led us to examine the timeliness of deposits on this type of payment. We also reviewed cash collected by the JFK Area Office during October and November 1989 to determine the timeliness of these deposits. Regarding the timeliness of deposits, the Treasury Financial Manual states that agencies will deposit receipts of $1,000 or more on the same day received prior to the depository cutoff time. At the JFK Area Office the depository cutoff time is 12:00 noon each weekday. However, not all collection documents were time-and-date stamped and, as a result, it was not always possible to tell whether they should have been included in that days’s deposit. Therefore, we applied a 24-hour or next-day deposit criterion in calculating the number of days a deposit was late. We did not review what occurred with the deposit transaction after it left the JFK Area Office and was delivered to the contract bank depository. We performed our audit from October 1989 to June 1990, in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Page 19 GAO/IMTEG96-16 Customs Revenue Collection at JFK L c , Ordering Information The fast five copies of each GAO report are free. Additional copies are $2 each. Orders should be sent to the following address, accom- panied by a check or money order made out to the Superintendent of Documents, when necessary. Orders for 100 or more copies to be mailed to a single address are discounted 25 percent. U.S. General Accounting Office P.O. Box 5015 Gaithersburg, MD 20877 Appendix III Major Contributors to This Report Anthony R. Carlo, Evaluator-in-Charge New York Regional Jeremiah F. Donoghue, Senior Evaluator Office Allen W. Gendler, Staff Evaluator Laura C. Morgan, Staff Evaluator Howard G. Rhile, Director, General Government Information Information Systems Management and Stephen A. Schwartz, Assistant Director Technology Division, David B. Alston, Senior Evaluator Washington, D.C. (610184) Page 20 Appendix II Objectives, Scope,and Methodology Our objectives were to determine the extent of physical security over revenue collected, accountability and controls over the use of prenumbered collection documents, and the timeliness of deposits of prenumbered collection-document revenue at the U.S. Customs Service, John F. Kennedy International Airport. Our work at the Customs Ser- vice at JFK resulted from an earlier report, Customs Automation: Duties and Other Collections Vulnerable to Fraud and Abuse (GAo/IMTEcXX-29, Feb. 28, 1990). JFK accounted for almost $2 billion (about 10 percent) of Customs’ $19.1 billion in total revenue for fiscal year 1989. To assess physical security over revenue, we reviewed pertinent Cus- toms policies and procedures, toured the collection area, and observed operations on 14 occasions between October 25, 1989, and June 21, 1990. To address the adequacy of accountability and controls over the use of prenumbered collection documents, we reviewed discrepancy reports issued by Customs following the 1987 and 1988 annual inventories. We randomly selected from over 120,000 discrepancies a sample of 25 docu- ments shown in ACS as assigned to JFK and available for use. In October 1989, we requested that the JFK Area Office locate or otherwise properly account for these 25 documents. In addition, we interviewed Customs supervisors and staff using these documents to determine if they were maintaining logs/accountability records, as required by their operating procedures. To address the timeliness of deposits, we analyzed deposits for 2 ran- domly selected days-November 3, and 6,1989-from the first 7 days in November 1989. To determine if the problem was corrected, we per- formed a spot check of an additional 2 days-January 16 and 22,199O. We did not review the timeliness of formal entries because we were told by staff of Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General that they are reviewing this matter. Our analysis of the timeliness of deposits was lim- ited to reviewing all the related prenumbered collection documents included in the total deposits with one exception: we did not review the timeliness of prenumbered revenues collected from passengers and crews at JFK international arrival terminals because at the time of our review this activity was also being reviewed by Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General. While reviewing the timeliness of deposits for prenumbered collection documents, we noted untimely deposits, including some formal entries and cash payments. Specifically, while observing the weekly c.ash count on November 1, 1989, we found formal Page18 GAO/IMTEC40-16CustomsRevenueCollectionatJFK Appendix I DetausofourNndlngs Table 2: Mixed Payments on Formal Entries Included in the Deposit of Check November 2,1989, at JFK Entry Number Entry Date* Amount Cash Total 0003523-7 1O/i 6/89 $3031.36 $.Ol $3,031.39 0003551-8 1O/21/89 3,347.36 .02 3,347.38 0003534-4 1O/l 9/89 2,046.lO .03 2046.13 0031714-1 10/13/89 - 434.09 50 434.59 0031672-l 10/15/09 242.52 .17 242.69 $9,101.45 t.73 t9,102.19 BNo collection date was on the documents; therefore we could not determine the exact number of days that these mixed payments were held I” the safe The cashier’s office supervisor said that both brokers and importers know that it is the practice of the JFK Area Office to count cash once a week, and that combination check and cash payments do not get depos- ited until the cash is counted. This could lead to brokers’ submitting mixed check and cash payments in order to gain longer use of their funds (free float). Further analysis showed that two of the three brokers who made payments in cash and checks in November 1989 also made payments this way in January 1990. After we brought this matter to his attention, the Assistant Area Director, Entry Division, said that this practice has stopped and that this type of entry is now processed when received. We also found that the JFK Area Office was accumulating cash in the cashier’s office safe and depositing it only once a week. This is contrary to section 8030.30 of the Treasury Financial Manual, which states that, to reduce processing float and improve availability of funds, agencies will deposit receipts of $1,000 or more on the same day received prior to the depository cutoff time. We found that during October and November 1989, $36,968 in cash was received at the cashier’s office and converted to nine cashier’s checks at a local bank. They were deposited generally at weekly intervals in amounts that ranged from $2,231 to $7,296. The Assistant Area Director, Entry Division, said that the courier service they use to bring the daily deposits to the bank located in New York City does not transfer cash. Therefore, the area office would convert cash to a cashier’s check at a local bank; because the cashier’s staff is short- handed, this was done once a week. He said the area office has made arrangements to obtain armed courier service to begin in October 1990. He added that in the interim they have halted the practice of weekly cash deposits and now convert cash to a cashier’s check when cash accumulates to $1,000. Page 16 GAO/JMTEG9S16 Customs Revenue Collection at JFK - Appendix I tkmib 0eour bindings Table 1: Analysis of Prenumbered Collection-Document Revenue Deposits Cashier’s ACS for November 3 and 6,1969, at JFK Number of Days Collection Collection Documents Amount Late’ Date Date DePDaE 1 $48 34 09-29-89 11-02-89 11-03-89 3 1,183 25 10-11-89 11-06-89 11-06-89 2 394 19 10-17-89 11-06-89 11-06-89 1 172 18 10-18-89 11-06-89 11-06-89 3 707 12 10-24-89 11-06-89 11-06-89 1 7 9 10-24-89 11-02-89 11-03-89 6 23,687 5 10-31-89 11-06-89 11-06-89 6 5,410 3 11-02-89 11-06-89 11-06-89 40 46.005 2 10-31-89 11-02-89 11-03-89 24 11,735 1 11-01-89 11-02-89 11-03-89 16 16,598 0 11-02-89 11-02-89 11-03-89 1 47,070 0 11-03-89 ll-06-8gb 11-06-89 104 $153,016 Wslng a 24.hour lateness crlter~on bBased on the ACS collectnn date, this document was deposlted on time by the cashrer's offlce s!nce November4and5,1989,wereweekenddays We also found that xs contained incorrect collection dates for the late deposits, showing them as being deposited on time. For example, ACS showed all the November 3 deposit documents as having a November 2, 1989, collection date, when in fact one was received as early as Sep- tember 29,1989. The November 6 deposits show a November 6,1989, collection date in AC'S, even though they were actually received by Cus- toms as early as October 11, 1989. In addition, during a physical observation on October 30, 1989, we saw collection documents in the cashier’s office for which checks in the amount of $37,107 were received. The collection documents were dated October 26. None of the checks had been endorsed, nor had the collec- tions been recorded in ACS or deposited. We observed that checks for 13 of these 26 collection documents, totaling over $33,000, were received in the cashier’s officca as caarly as October 11, 1989. We also observed other examples of untimely deposits and incorrect col- lection dates in .January 1990. Almost $5,000 (25 documents) received on January 8, 1990, was not deposited until January 16, but the ACS col- lection report incorrectly showed January 16 as the collection date. In addition, $3,385 (16 documents) received on January 16 was not depos- ited until <January 82; the ACS collection date was shown as January 22. Page 14 GAO/IMTEC%O-16 Customs Revenue Cdlection at JFK Appendix I Details of Our Pindin@ are not made. One inspector we interviewed was not sure where his doc- uments were because he had not used any in over 2 years. Another inspector told us that she had not used her documents since October 1987. One of the supervisors interviewed said that none of the ten inspectors assigned to her used the documents within a 6-month period. In November 1988, Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs recommended6 that the Assistant Area Director of Inspection and Control evaluate the number of documents supplied to inspectors to ensure that an adequate number are on hand, commensurate with individual tasks. At that time the regional commissioner disagreed, stating that all the books in use were needed. However, after we presented our findings on the lack of accountability and control over prenumbered collection documents, the area office agreed to reduce the number of documents in use. Specifi- cally, we were told that they had reduced the number of prenumbered documents from 55,000 in March 1990 to 7,500 documents in June 1990; and that the number of inspectors and other personnel assigned collec- tion documents had been reduced from 400 to 70. Storage Problems Secure storage of prenumbered collection documents, both before issu- ance and while in use, is essential to prevent loss, theft, or misuse. How- ever, in at least three instances, prenumbered collection documents were stored in unsecured areas. In two cases prenumbered collection docu- ments were stored in unlocked desk drawers, making them vulnerable to theft or misuse and further weakening control and accountability over documents. For example, a supervisor kept 400 documents in a desk that could not be locked. We also found hundreds of unissued documents stored in the supply room-an area that can be entered by unauthorized personnel. After discussing these storage problems with an assistant area director, we were told that (1) locked file cabinets will be provided as needed, and (2) the area office will no longer store unissued docu- ments in the supply room. The JFK Area Office was not making daily deposits of some of its collec- Untimely Deposits of tions, which is contrary to Treasury and Customs requirements. Section Revenue 8030.30 of the Treasury Financial Manual states, “To reduce processing float and improve availability of funds, agencies . will deposit receipts of $1,000 or more on the same day received prior to the depository cut- 6Statement of Condition and Recommendation Number 8, Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs, November R, 1988. Page 12 GAO/~016 Custom Revenue Collection at JPK Appendix I Details of Our Findings - By the end of our audit in June 1990, Customs made certain physical security improvements aimed at securing the collection area. These improvements included the installation of drywall and barbed wire to close the gap in the ceiling between the presentation area and the cashier’s cage, and a steel roll-up gate door to prevent access outside of normal hours to the presentation area. The Customs Assistant Area Director, Entry Division, told us of additional plans to improve physical security. These include installing countertop-to-ceiling partitions at the presentation counter, adding a closed-circuit camera in the cashier’s cage, repositioning certain computer equipment in the cage area so that it is less visible, and reemphasizing to staff the importance of locking access doors and properly safeguarding revenues. This area director also discussed plans to increase the staff in the cashier’s office so that the same Customs employee does not control all aspects of the revenue-collection process -~ Customs’ New York Regional Office and the JFK Area Office issued a Lax Accountability series of directives to control and account for prenumbered collection Over Prenumbered documents. We found that these directives were not being followed at Collection Documents the JFK Area Office. We also found too many documents in circulation, and prenumbered c*ollection documents stored in unsecured areas. Col- lectively, these weaknesses make Customs vulnerable to theft and loss of revenue. Weak Accountability Over We found weak accountability and control over prenumbered collection documents because Customs was not adhering to its stated procedures. Prenumbered Collection As a result, the area office was unable to readily locate documents that Documents by Supervisors ACS showed assigned to .JFK and available for use. Further, supervisors and Inspectors were not maintaining accountability records for documents distributed t.o their employees. This was also reported to you by Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs in March 1989. In fiscal years 1987 and 1988, the National Finance Center (NE) directed nationwide district inventories of prenumbered collection docu- ments. Resulting discrepancy reports disclosed that the JFKArea Office could neither locate nor otherwise account for over 120,000 collection documents that KS showed assigned to the JFK Area Office following inventory. We randomly selected 25 of these 120,000 documents and asked Customs to locate them. Initially, Customs could not locate or account for any of these documents. However, during the ensuing 6- Page 10 GAO/lMTEG90.16 Customs Revenue Colktion at JPK In fiscal year 1989, Customs reported that almost $2 billion in duties Physical Security Over and other revenue was collected at JFK. However, the JFK Area Office is Collected Revenue and not properly safeguarding this revenue. Separation of Duties Are Weak Current Configuration of The current configuration of the cashier’s office, together with Customs employees’ not following established procedures, contributes to physical Cashier’s Office Causes security problems for revenue collected by the JFK Area Office. Physical Security Problems Sections 5311.3a and 5314.2~ of the Customs Policies and Procedures Manual point out that daily collections should be kept from public view during as well as before and after official hours, and that funds on hand should be secured both during and outside of normal work hours. As mentioned, our review discovered that this is not always the case. During normal business hours, anyone can enter the broker/importer presentation area; no security guards are stationed in this area. The presentation area is where individuals present payments and documen- tation (referred to as formal entry by Customs) for importing merchan- dise into the United States.3 Adjacent to the presentation area is the cashier’s work area, where cashier office staff process collections and related documents. Adjacent to the presentation area and the cashier’s work area is the cashier’s cage. This is an enclosed room that contains two teller windows where other payments are received. A counter approximately 4 feet high separates the presentation area from the cashier’s work area. One could climb over this counter and gain access to the cashier’s work area, or remove broker/importer documents from the wire baskets left out on the countertop. On several occasions we observed access doors leading from the presentation area to the cashier’s work area left open, inviting unauthorized access. Further, on several occasions while in the cashier’s work area, we observed endorsed checks left in public view in wire baskets. These checks were awaiting courier transport to the bank. Thus, anyone entering the cashier’s work area could potentially leave with some of these endorsed checks Moreover, as discussed below, once in the work “When goods valued at “vu $1.250 are imported into the United States, the importer or broker acting on the importer’s behalf m!lst file certain documents with Customs at the port of entry. The docw ments for this filing, called a formA entry, include the application for a permit to immediately deliver cargo, a commercial invoiw and evidence that bond exists to guarantee that duties will be paid. Page 8 GAO/IMTEG!BO-16 Customs Revenue Collection at JPK Contents Letter 1 Appendix I 8 Details of Our Physical Security Over Collected Revenue and Separation of Duties Are Weak 8 Findings Lax Accountability Over Prenumbered Collection 10 Documents Untimely Deposits of Revenue 12 Appendix II 18 Objectives, Scope,and Methodology Appendix III 20 Major Contributors to This Report Tables Table 1: Analysis of Prenumbered Collection-Document Revenue Deposits for November 3 and 6,1989, at JFK Table 2: Mixed Payments on Formal Entries Included in 16 the Deposit of November 2, 1989, at JFK Abbreviations ACS Automated Commercial System GAO General Accounting Office IMTEC Information Management and Technology Division JFK John F. Kennedy International Airport WC National Finance Center Pa@ 6 GAO/lMTEG9C-16 Customs Revenue Collection at JFK B-240920 generally accepted government auditing standards, from October 1989 to June 1990. If you have any questions on the matters discussed in the report, I can be reached at (212) 264-0961. Sincerely yours, n Mary R. Hamilton Regional Manager Page 4 GAO/IMTJCG9O.16 Cuetom Revenue Cdlection et JPK B-240920 Such weaknesses heighten the area office’s vulnerability to lost or stolen collections. Physical security of revenue was inadequate at the cashier’s office at Inadequate Physical JFK. This office handles all deposits of Customs revenue collected at .J!X Security Over Revenue We observed checks left out in the open and in public view; an unlocked, improperly secured safe; doors to the cashier’s office left open or closed but not locked; and someone other than Customs personnel entering the cashier’s cage. Inadequate security over revenues was also cited by Cus- toms’ Office of Internal Affairs in its March 1989 report. We also observed a separation-of-duties weaknesses, noting that the same cashier who receives collections also prepares the prenumbered collec- tion document and records the collections. The Customs Assistant Area Director, Entry Division, agreed with our findings and stated that the physical security weaknesses were caused by a lack of funding for improvements and the failure of Customs employees to follow estab- lished procedures. The inadequate separation-of-duties, he said, was caused by staff shortages. During the latter stages of our review, Customs made several improve- ments in safeguarding revenue. Other improvements are planned, including adding a closed-circuit camera and repositioning certain com- puter equipment in the cashier’s cage, reemphasizing to staff the impor- tance of locking access doors and properly safeguarding revenue, and increasing the number of staff in the cashier’s office to address the sepa- ration-of-duties weakness. Weaknesses pertaining to accountability, control, and storage of Lax Accountability prenumbered collection documents resulted from Customs’ not following Over Prenumbered stated procedures or good management practices. Specifically, (1) Cus- Collection Documents toms supervisors were not keeping track of the collection documents they issued, (2) too many employees had been issued prenumbered doc- uments for effective monitoring, and (3) the documents were being stored in unsecured areas. Customs’ Office of Internal Affairs also found a lack of control and accountability in its March 1989 report. This lack of control and accountability has allowed instances in which documents could not be accounted for. These unaccounted-for documents could represent lost or stolen collections. The Customs Assistant Area Director, Entry Division, said that these conditions are caused by an excessive number of documents in use, and Page 2 GAO/IMTHX@16 Customs Revenue Collection at JFK
Customs Automation: Weakness in Revenue Collection at John F. Kennedy International Airport
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-09-27.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)