oversight

Customs Service: Office of International Affairs

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-04-25.

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

United States
General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548

National Securim and
International Affairs Division


B-276690

April 25, 1997

The Honorable Philip Crane
Chairman, Subcommittee on Trade
Committee on Ways and Means
House of Representatives

Subject: Customs Service: Office of International Afkirs

Dear Mr. Chairman:

To support the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade’s oversight of the U.S.
Customs Service, you requested that we provide information on the Customs
Service’s Office of International Affairs (OLA). Specifically, this letter describes
(1) OIA’s overall mission and organization, (2) the nature and extent of OJA’s
activities; (3) its relationship with other offices within Customs, (4) its
budgetary and staffing resources, (5) its management improvement efforts and
system for measuring and evaluating its performance, and (6) other federal
agencies’views on the training and assistance that OIA provides for foreign
customs administrations in conjunction with U.S. international programs.

BACKGROUND

U.S. Customs is responsible for ensuring that all goods and persons entering
and exiting the United States do so in accordance with U.S. laws and
regulations. Customs collects duties, taxes, and fees associated with the
commercial movement of cargo across U.S. borders and enforces import-export
and counternarcotics laws and regulations. To advance its objectives, Customs,
through OIA, supports the international adoption of policies, programs, and
procedures compatible with those of the U.S. Customs Service and seeks to
help modernize foreign customs administrations. Customs has carried out
international training and advisory functions since the mid-1960s; OIA was
established in 1982.




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                                                 Customs’Office of International Affairs

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RESULTS IN BRIEF

To help facilitate the legal flow of goods and persons across borders, OIA
supports the development of uniform customs procedures worldwide and seeks
to improve the effectiveness of foreign customs administxations, often in
collaboration with other agencies. OIA provides training and technical
assistance to foreign customs administrations in areas such as import-export
procedures, drug interdiction, and technology controls, and coordinates
Customs’participation in international organizations such as the World Customs
Organization (WCO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

OIA provides training and assistance both directly to host governments and in
conjunction with’other federal agencies. From 1994 through 1996, OIA trained
over 8,300 foreign customs officials and participated, on behalf of Customs, in
21 international organizations, including WCO.

OIA provides information and policy support to a number of offices within
Customs. It also draws upon the technical expertise and staff of other offices
to conduct training abroad.

In fiscal year 1997, OIA’s budget was $13.8 million and it had 83 staff positions,
including 36 who directly provide training and technical assistance. OIA
receives funding for its training and assistance activities primarily through
reimbursable agreements with host governments or other federal agencies.

In 1995, OJA reorganized, reducing management layers, cutting its support staff,
and decreasing the number of organizational units. OIA is currently developing
a system to measure the performance of its programs.

The federzil agencies we interviewed that have worked in collaboration with
OIA were generally satisfied with its training programs and interagency
coordination efforts.

OIA’S MISSION AND ORGANIZATION

OIA represents the Customs Senice in international organizations and provides
training and technical aid to customs administrations abroad. Through these
activities, OIA seeks to promote the development of uniform customs
procedures worldwide and improve foreign customs administiations’ ability to
facilitate international trade and detect activities such as transborder weapons
and drug smuggling. In so doing, OIA supports the adoption of policies,
programs, and procedures compatible with those of the U.S. Customs Service
and helps to modernize foreign customs administrations.

 OIA has divided its activities into two functional areas-international operations
 and international policy. The goal of the international operations area is to
 build cooperative relationships with foreign customs administrations by

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providing training, technology, and information. The goal of the international
policy area is to (1) help develop unified U.S. Customs Service positions on
international customs issues; (2) negotiate agreements with foreign customs
admmistrations to expand international law enforcement cooperation; and (3)
represent Customs on international worldng groups, committees, and
organizations that address speciftc enforcement and trade issues.

OLA is organized into five divisions, two devoted to international operations,
two to internationa;2 policy, and one to staffing the Customs Attache in Brussels,
Belgium (see fig. 1). Those concerned with international operations are the
International Training Division and the International Assistance Division. The
International Training Division develops, coordinates, and delivers training
programs for drug interdiction, enforcement of customs laws, and commercial
procedures. The International Assistance Division provides technical assistance
in such areas as enforcement of import-export procedures. In the policy area,
the International Organizations and Agreements Division participates on behalf
of Customs in international organizations such as WC0 and WTO. The
International Policy and Analysis Division coordinates Customs’ bilateral and
multilateral activities with foreign governments, oversees strategy development
for Customs’ trade and enforcement activities, and coordinates with Customs
attaches abroad. In addition, OIA maintains a Customs Attache in Brussels,
who is the U.S. representative to WC0 and the European Union.


Figure 1: Organization of Customs’ OIA, 1997



                              Commissioner




           international                     International
            operations                           policy


Source: Customs’0I.A




3                          GAO/NSIAD-9?-146R Customs’ Office of International Affairs
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NATURE AND EXTENT OF OIA AC-S

OIA reported that Tom 1994 through 1996, over 8,300 foreign government
officials participated in its trammg programs (see table 1). Examples of training
offered include courses on antismuggling and narcotics interdiction, the
international harmonized tariff system,l intellectual property rights protection,
money-laundering detection, customs automation, and customs facility
management. (See app. I for a complete list of training courses that OJA offered
in 1994-96). OIA officials told us that they receive more requests for training
each year than they can m         OIA, in concert with the Department of State and
other federal agencies, tries to deliver tmining and assistance where it believes
it is most needed and appropriate.

Table 1: Number of Foreign Participants in OIA’s Training Programs, 199496




     Africzl


     Total                            3,156           2,142           3,033          8,331

Source: Office of International Affairs: The Team at Work (Washington, D.C.: Assistant
Commissioner, OLA, 1996).

Training Programs Conducted in Coniunction With Other Federal Agencies

In addition to providing txaimng and assistance directly, OIA participates in
customs-related tzair&ng programs led by other U.S. agencies to assist foreign
governments in curbing transborder weapons proliferation and drug smuggling,
among other things. OIA’s participation in these international training programs
is funded primarily through reimbursable funding agreements with other federal
agencies. OIA also negotiates funding agreements directly with host country
governments for the ongoing technical assistance that it delivers independently.

 %‘he Harmonized System is an extension of the six-digit Harmonized Commodity and Coding
 System, the internationally recognized system for classifying commodities.

 4                             GAOLNSIAD-97-146R
                                               Customs’Office of International Affairs
OIA’s numerous international policy activities include representing Customs in
international organizations, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
(APEC) forum and WCO, and supporting bilateral negotiations on Customs-
related issues such as protecting intellectual property rights. Other federal
agencies we interviewed gave generally positive reports on OIA’s training
programs and participation in bilateral negotiations.

Customs supports a wide range of training programs led by other federal
agencies, including the Departments of State and Defense (DOD) and the Offic:
of the US. Trade Representative (USTR). One example of OLA’sjointly offerec
training programs is its participation in U.S. efforts to control the proliferation
of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in Eastern Europe and the
former Soviet Union. As a pticipant in Project Amber, which was funded by
the State Department’s Nonproliferation and Disarmament F’und in fiscal years
199597, OIA worked with the Department of Energy to tram border
enforcement officers in interdictjng weapons of mass destruction in the Baltics
and East European countries. Also, as part of the Cooperative Threat
Reduction Program, which Congress authorized DOD to establish in 1991: 01
worked with DOD and State to provide former Soviet nuclear states with
training and equipment intended to help develop modern export control
systems. OLA and other Customs units’ role was to provide training to host
countries and advice to DOD on what type of equipment to purchase and wk :.
to install it. DOD and Customs are planning to continue these nonproliferation
training efforts under the DOD-Customs Counterproliferation Program, a new
program that is currently being negotiated by the two agencies. According to
the draft plan, the program is intended to provide about $9 million over fiscal
years 1997-99to provide training, expert advice, and equipment maintenance
support for border enforcement agencies in the former Soviet Union, the
Baltics, and Eastern Europe. Over time, the program may serve as many as 25
countries in the region, according to OIA written statements.

Another example of OWs joint activities with other U.S. agencies is the training
it provides under the direction of the State Department’s International Narcotics
and Law Enforcement (INL) office. Since 1973, State has given OIA funds to
train customs agencies in high-threat developing countries in the interdiction of
illegal drugs. In addition, OIA’s International Visitors Program brings high-level
foreign.border control officials to the United States to famiiiarize them with
U.S. Customs operations and procedures. INL Qaining also includes the Carrier
Initiative Program, in which OIA and other Customs units provide training to
international air and sea carriers in the prevention of narcotics smuggling.



2The Baltic states include Estonia, Labia, and Lithuania

3SeeWeaDonsof Mass Destruction Reducing the Threat From the Former Soviet Union
(GAO/NSIAD-957, Oct. 6, 1994).

5                             GAO/M&ID-97-146RCustoms Office of International Affairs
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OIA’s intellectual property rights traming activities in China further exemplify
some of the trade-related programs OIA conducts in coordination with other
federal agencies. OIA has coordinated Customs’ participation in USTR-led
bilateral negotiations to increase China’s enforcement of intellectual property
rights laws along Chinese borders. Under a 1995 bilateral agreement, the
Chinese government pledged to provide protection for intellectual property and
market access for U.S. intellectual property-based products. In turn, the U.S.
government offered border enforcement training. OIA and other Customs units
played a signi&ant role in identifying the Chinese government’s needs and
tailoring existing training programs to meet those needs, according to USTR. In
addition, OIA won a $447,000 contract in 1995 from the Asian Development
Bank to assist the Chinese Customs General Administration in proposing new
legislation and regulations relating to China’s involvement in external auditing,
anticommercial fraud measures, antidumping and countervailing dul$
 measures, according to OLk

        Fundinn Arrangements

The mechanics of funding OIA’s international training and assistance programs
vary, depending on the U.S. agency or foreign government involved. In the case
of a reimbursable agreement with another U.S. agency, the lead agency typically
negotiates a written agreement with Customs’ OIA on-the specific training and
assistance OIA will provide, as well as its associated costs. After OIA
completes the training, the lead agency uses its own appropriations to
reimburse Customs for the specified amount. Reimbursable agreements may be
renewed or renegotiated annually. In one instance, funding for Customs’
intellectual property rights training in China came out of OLA’s administrative
budget, since USTR-which initiated the training program-does not have the
funds to support other agencies’ overseas assistance activities. For programs
that are financed by the host counby, OIA signs an agreement directly with host
government officials and must receive the funds prior to carrying out training.

Particination in International Organizations

OIA works with other U.S. agencies to develop consistent positions on customs
issues and to represent the U.S. government’s interests in international
organizations where customs procedures are addressed, such as WC0 and
APEC. The State Department generally provides policy direction on overseas
training and assistance and representation in international organizations, .while


 ‘%umpingis the sale of commoditiesin a foreign market at a price that is lower than the price
 or value of comparable commodities in the country of their origin.

 5A countervailing duty is a US. government fee on goods imported into the United States in au
 amount equal to any subsidy provided with respect to manufacture, production, or export of
 those goods by a government of another country.

 6                             GAO/NSIAD-97-146R Customs’ Office of International Affairs
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USTR represents the United States on international trade issues. OIA also has a
role in negotiating and implementing customs mutual assistance agreements
with other countries.

      WC0

OIA coordinates U.S. Customs’ representation in WCO, founded in 1950 to
promote harmonization of customs procedures and systems worldwide.
Headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, WC0 has 144 member countries. OIA has
two staff on loan to the U.S. Secretariat of WC0 in Brussels. WC0 adopted
several U.S. Customs initiatives to (1) establish more effective customs controls
to prevent intellectual property rights infringement, (2) encourage greater
worldwide customs’ use of automated passenger information systems using
electronic data interchange technology, and (3) develop an international
inventory of export processing procedures. In addition, OIA, working in
partnership with the International Chamber of Commerce, prepared a concept
paper that was submitted to WC0 in 1995. It provides a vision for a new
international customs model for trade facilitation.

      APEC

The U.S. Customs Service is one of 18 customs administrations participating in
APEC’s Subcommittee on Customs Procedures, formed in 1994 under the
Committee on Trade and Investment. OIA is responsible for coordinating
Customs’ activities relating to the Subcommittee, whose primary goal is to
standardize and harmonize customs procedures among APEC members-
Working in cooperation with USTR, State, and the other 17- member customs
administrations, Customs has helped develop the Subcommittee’s Collective
Action Plan, which was submitted to the leaders at the 1995 APEC meetig in
Osaka, Japan. The plan lays out nine areas for standardization by the year 2000,
such as the valuation and classification of goods, customs procedures and best
practices, and intellectual property rights administration.

       Customs Mutual Assistance Agreements

OI& in conjunction with Customs’ Office of Chief Counsel, negotiates customs
mutual assistance agreements with other countries to expand law enforcement
cooperation in the international arena These agreements establish a legal
hamework for sharing trade, regulatory, and law enforcement information more
dfectively and encourage cooperation among customs administrations to
combat illegal activity. Such exchanges can provide mutual benefits in
addressing problems such as commercial fraud, money laundering, and
narcotics trafficking. The United States has concluded customs mutual
assistance agreements with 32 countries since 1973, 11 of which have been
negotiated in the last 3 years, according to OIA officials.



7                         GAO/NSLAD-97-146R Customs’ Office of International Affairs
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RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER OFFICES WTTRIN CUSTOMS

Among OIA’s primary “customers” within Customs are the Office of
Investigations, the Office of Strategic Trade, the Office of Regulations and
Rulings, and the Office of Field Operations.’ OIA serves these customers by
supplying them with background information and briefing materials on
international customs initiatives and by facilitating relations between these
offices and foreign customs administrations or international organizations. OIA
also supports the international objectives of these offices by providing training
and technica.l assistance overseas.

In turn, many offices within Customs support OIA by providing staff and
technical expertise for OIA’s overseas training and assistance programs. For
example, the Office of Investigations, through its network of foreign attache
offices, frequently offers support and insight into the regions and countries
where OIA’s training division is planning or implementing projects. The Office
of Field Operations provides expertise on methods for uncovering illegal
shipments and efficiently processing legitimate shipments and works with OLA
to help reform and modernize foreign customs administrations. Office of Field
Operations staff also participate fully in OIA’s border enforcement training
courses related to narcotics control, nonproliferation, and antiterrorism. OIA
relies on the Office of Strategic Trade and the Office of Information Technology
to supply team members for various international commercial and automation
 training missions. At the request of foreign customs agencies or international
 organizations, OIA may collect and transfer technical information from various
 offices within Customs.

According to written statements from OIA’s major divisions, OIA has generally
effective relationships with other offices within Customs. In some cases, these
interoffice relationships are guided by formal written agreements, and in other
cases they are conducted more informally. The International Assistance
Division reported that each of its assistance projects involves a formal
agreement with other Customs offices that clearly states the resources, goals,
procedures, and personnel that will be needed for the project. The
International Training Division told us that some of its interactions with other
Customs offices are coordinated by intra-agency working groups, while others


%e Office of Investigations is responsible for investigations and intelligence-gathering,
oversight of the foreign and domestic investigative offices, and the air and marme interdiction
programs. The OfLice of Strategic Trade identifies and analyzes major trade issues facing the
United States and develops strategies for managing these issues. The Office of Regulations and
Rulings facilitates the entry of goods into the United States by drafting regulations to implement
relevant U.S. trade laws; issuing rubngs on the proper classification, valuation, country of origin,
and marking of imported goods, and providing compliancerelated guidance to the trade
community and other Customs units. The Office of Field Operations manages and establishes
the policies, procedures, and systems related to the processing of carriers, cargo/merchandise,
and persons entering and departing the United States at ports of entry.

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are guided by written agreements. OIA officials did not identify any major
limitations in their working relationships with other Customs’ offices.

BUDGET AND STAFFING

In fiscal year 1997, OIA’s $13.8 million budget was comprised of direct authority
and reimbursable authority7 (see table 2 for 1994-97 budget information),
according to OIA officials. In that year, OIA’s direct authority was $4.5 million
and covered salaries/benefits (80 percent), travel (11 percent), and other
administrative costs (9 percent). The remaining $9.3 million consisted largely of
funds pledged to OIA through reimbursable agreements to support OLA’s
overseas training and technical assistance programs. This funding comes
primarily through reimbursable agreements with other federal agencies, such as
State and DOD, or through funding agreements with host country govenunents
that receive the training and/or technica assistance. Less common sources of
funds are grants and contracts used for specific overseas training purposes from
international organizations such as the Asian Development Bank.

Table 2: Customs’ OIA Annual Budget Authority, Fiscal Years 199497
Dollars in millions

                   Direct budget           Reimbursable
    FiSCd            authority               authority                 Total
     5-m
     1994                $4.47                    $9.57                $14.04
     1995                4.65                     10.90                $15.55
     1996                4.27                     9.86                 $14.13
     1997                4.53                     9.31                 $13.84

Source: Customs’ OlA.

As of April 1997, OIA had a staff of 83, with 16 percent at the General Service
(GS)-15 level or above, 42 percent at the GS-13 through GS-14 level or its
equivalent, and 42 percent at the GS-7 through GS-12 level or its equivalent,*
according to OIA officials. About 54 percent of OlA’s staff positions were
devoted to international operations, while 24 percent were devoted to
international policy. F’igure 2 shows the percentage of OJA staff positions


7The total budget of the Customs Service was $1.6 billion in l&al year 1997.

*Of OIA’s 83 staff positions, 70 are physically located in OIA’s office in Washington, DC.; 9
serve overseas on temporary assignments; and 4 serve on training/assistance missions in Puerto
Rico.

9                               GAO/MUD-97-146R      Customs’Office of International Affairs
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allocated to each of its major functions, including the International Customs
Model Task Force, a temporary unit formed in 1996 to develop best practices
for harmonizing international customs procedures. In addition to OIA’s 83 staff
positions, OIA has 13 that are funded through reimbursable agreements and
stationed overseas. OIA officials told us that staff turnover is typically in the
range of 5 to 10 per year and attributed most staff turnover to the movement of
Customs officials leaving for and returning from overseas assignments.

Figure 2: Customs’ OIA Staff Allocations, by Function, 1997

International Operations 45
                                                           Program Management 8




                                                                     Assistant Commissioner 2   ‘.




                                                                 Customs Attach4 3




                                                  International Policy 20

Source: Customs’ OIA

MANAGEMENT IMPROVEMENT AND PERFORMANCE MEASURES

In response to both internal and external factors’ affecting Customs’ overall
mission and operations, Customs undertook a major reorganization in 1995. In
addition, Customs began redemg its mission and launched an agencywide
management improvement effort. These efforts were partly in response to the
1993 Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA)” and to the Clinton
administration’s National Performance Review. According to Customs’ Office of


?.nt.emal factors included management and organizational deficiencies such as a lack of
uuiformity in the application of Customs laws, policies, and procedures; the absence of a clearly
defhed mission; and a pattern of noncompliance with the Chief F’iuancial Officers Act of 1990,
according to Customs. External factors included substantial increases in international trade,
travel, and tourism; the requirements of the North American Free Trade Agreement and WTO,
and rising numbers of legal and illegal immigrants.

“GPRA mandates that federal government agencies (1) develop 5-year strategic plans containing
mission statements and outcome-related strategic goals; (2) prepare annual plans with
performance goals and indicators to measure performance; and (3) prepare and submit to the
President and Congress yearly reports on the extent to which an agency has met its annual
performance goals, beginning in the year 2000. It requires agencies to submit their initial 5year
strategic plans to Congress and the Of&e of Management and Budget by September 30, 1997.

 10                            GAO/NSIAD-97-146R Customs’ Office of International Affairs
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Planning, Customs began publishing performance-based annual plan? in 1994; a
performance measurement initiative by Customs’ Office of Investigations served
as a GPRA pilot project. In addition, Customs has prepared a draft strategic
plan for the years 1996-200112and expects to complete the plan for submission
to the Office of Management and Budget before the September 30, 1997,
deadline as required by GPRA. OIA’s international training and policy functions
are included in Customs’ strategic plan under the Customs-wide objectives
relating to narcotics enforcement and trade compliance.

OIA reorganized in 1995 in an effort to reduce unnecessary layers of
management within the office. As part of this effort, OIA reported that it (1)
reduced from six units to four units by eliminating branches, (2) cut back its
support staff by 30 percent, (3) decreased management and supervisory layers
by 66 percent, (4) cut organizational units Tom 27 to 7, and (5) increased its
supervisor-to-employee ratio from 1 to 4 to 1 to 11. Regarding management
improvement, OIA has been working to incorporate techniques such as team
building, delegation of authority, process mapping, and performance
improvement into its operations, according to the report.

Different initiatives are in place to measure OIA’s performance in training that
is directly delivered and training conducted in conjunction with other federal
agencies-l3 OIA is developing performance measures to monitor the
effectiveness of its directly delivered international training activities. In fiscal
year 1996, these programs engaged 54 percent of the office’s stafT positions and
represented about 67 percent of its total funding (direct appropriations plus
reimbursable funding). OIA is developing these measures based in part on a
model the U.S. Agency for International Development produced to evaluate the
performance of its international assistance programs, according to OIA officials.
This model establishes a broad strategic framework, agency goals and
objectives, and more specific strategic objectives14 measured by performance
indicators.




‘rMost recently, Customs published its Amural Plan Fiscal Year 1997: Peonle. Processes. and
Partner&ins-A Window on the Future U.S. Customs Service (Washington, D.C.: Commissioner,
U.S. Customs Service, Jan 1997).

r2U.S. Customs Service Strategic Plan @iscal Years 1996-2001),January 13, 1997.

1301A’sadminkhative and international policy functions are not currently covered by OIA
performance outcome measures because the nature of these activities is more difficult to
quantify, according to OLA officials.

‘aThe US. Agency for International Development defines strategic objectives as signikant
development results that can be accomplished over 5-S years, with contributions from the
agency and its partners.

11                           GAOLNSJAD-97-146R Customs’       Office of International Affairs
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OIA is using its technical assistance program in Puerto Rico for excise tax
collection as a pilot program to evaluate the effectiveness of its new
performance measurement system. The program has five objectives, each
supported by subobjectives and measured by specific performance outcomes.
According to OIA, the new system has been useful in helping the two
governments set clear expectations and in providing a way to determine how
well program objectives are achieved. The next pilot project for performance
measurement will be the cargo inspection program in Guatemala, which officials
expect to launch in mid-1997. In most cases, specific measures have yet to be
developed for each training or technical assistance program type (that is, tax
collection, commercial cargo, and narcotics enforcement) since the outcome
measures for these activities are distinct. In addition, with the assistance of
U.S. embassies, OIA has recently implemented a formalized system of data
collection in countries where it provides training and assistance related to
State’s INL program. According to OIA, the purpose of this effort is to routinely
receive and analyze end-results data from foreign agencies that have received
training to better gauge the outcome of Customs’ programs and provide insight
on where best to focus future programs.

In addition to the programs offered directly by Customs, OIA is helping to
develop evaluation methods for the training and assistance programs it offers in
cooperation with other U.S. agencies. In most cases, OIA officials said they rely
on feedback from their program partners, U.S. embassies in the host countries,
and the Customs attaches. For example, as part of the INL training offered
under the direction of the State Department, U.S. embassies provide on-site
reports that highlight program effectiveness and the subsequent performance of
foreign customs administrations. In addition, the foreign participants in INL
training programs are asked to complete evaluation forms through which OIA
obtains their input. OIA reported that it has made program changes in response
to these participant evaluations and recommendations.

U.S. AGENCIES’ VIEWS ON OIA TRAINING PROGRAMS

In interviews with DOD, State, and USTR officials and from a review of cables
from U.S. embassies, we found that there was general satisfaction with OIA’s
overseas training programs and interagency coordination efforts. Although none
of the agencies we contacted had conducted formal evaluations to measure
program effectiveness, they alI portrayed the Customs’ training and assistance
programs as successful in meeting their objectives. Examples of some of the
comments we received follow:

       An official in the Office of the Secretary of Defense who has been
       working with Customs on counterproliferation activities characterized
       OIA officials as team players who work effectively witbin the interagency
       process to negotiate and implement overseas tmining. He attributed the
       success of OIA’s overseas training programs to Customs officials’
       technical expertise and knowledge.

 12                       GAO/NSLAD-97-146R Customs’ Office of International Affairs
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       According to an official in the Office of the Coordinator of NIS
       Assistance withm the State Department,15 Customs is most effective in
       assessing host country requirements, designing programs, and delivering
       training and assistance.

       An official in the State Department’s Arms Transfer and Export Control
       Policy office said OLA’s overseas training courses on customs procedures
       related to export .controls are well received by host government
       participants. He added that Customs is a cooperative and active member
       of the Interagency Working Group on Export Controls.

       According to the Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for China
       and Mongolia, Customs’ intellectual property rights training activities in
       China have been essential to the success of bilateral negotiations with
       China on intellectual property protection. In her view, Customs’ efforts
       to establish good working relationships with Chinese government
       officials through traming and assistance have contributed to a sense of
       goodwill in the negotiations and helped to produce some positive results
       for both countries.

       Jn the cables we reviewed, U.S. embassies in countries that have received
       INL training reported a high level of satisfaction on the part of host
       governments. For example, the U.S. embassy in Peru said the U.S.
       Customs team was professional and the training was well suited to its
       audience. The embassy also noted that the training was highly useful in
       sensitizing host country recipients to new trends and methods of drug
       and trafficker detection.

AGENCY COMMENTS

OFA.reviewed a draft of this letter and agreed that the letter accurately
portrayed its work. OIA supplied a few technical clarifications, which we
incorporated as appropriate.

SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY

To obtain information on OItl’s mission, organization, budget, and staB.ng, we
reviewed OIA documents and held interviews with OIA officials, including the
Assistant Commissioner for International Affairs, the Director of Program
Management, and the division directors. To identify OIA’s efforts to improve its
management and monitor the performance of its programs, we interviewed


?NIS refers to the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. On April 4, 1995, the
President strengthened the role and authority of the Coordinator in a memorandum designating
him as a Special Advisor to the President and to the Secretary of State on assistance to the
former Soviet Union.

13                           GAOMSIAD-97-146R       Customs’ Office of International   Affairs
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Customs officials, reviewed GPRA requirements for establishing performance
measures, obtained documents outlining OTA’s performance-based objectives
and outcome measures, and reviewed Customs’ 19962001 strategic plan and
annual plans for 199497.

To gain an understanding of OIA’s role in supporting other Customs’offices, we
obtained comments from each of OIA’s division directors and reviewed
examples of written agreements reached between OIA and these other offices.
To ascertain the nature and extent of OIA’s overseas training and assistance
programs, we reviewed OLA program summaries, accomplishment reports, and
examples of reimbursable agreements and met with OIA office directors
responsible for training and assistance. In addition, we interviewed officials
from USTR and the Departments of State, Defense, and Energy to obtain their
views on the effectiveness of OIA’s training and assistance activities. We
reviewed some U.S. embassy cables provided by OIA, but did not visit any
foreign locations to observe OIA training activities or directly discuss OIA’s
performance with foreign government officials.

We conducted our review from December 1996 to March 1997 in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards.



If you have any questions concerning this letter, please call me at (202) 512-
8984. The information in this letter was developed by Elizabeth Sirois and Sara
Denman.




   and Trade Issues




 14                      GAO/K3AD-97-146R Customs’ Office of International Affairs
APPENDIX I                                                              APPENDIX I

     TRAINING COURSES OFFERED BY THE OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS,
                                  1994-96

Commercial

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Valuation Course
Advanced GATT Valuation Training
Andean Trade Preference Act Export Promotion Seminar
Bancomext North American Free Trade Agreement Seminar
Bancomext Foreign Export Seminar
Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council Regulations Training
Commercial Processes Training Course
Customs Cooperation Council Seminar on Commercial Fraud
Federation of Equadorian Exporters (Customs Reforms)
Importer Audit Training
Commercial Fraud
Harmonized Tariff System Training
Carrier Initiative Program
InteIIectuaI Property Rights
Promotion of Nontraditional AgricuIturaI Exports
Textile Transshipment and Factory Production Verification

Enforcement

Executive Observation Program
Train-the-Trainer
Regional Train-the-Trainer
Overseas Enforcement Training
Regional Overseas Enforcement Training
Overseas Enforcement and Management Training
Contraband Enforcement Team
Short-Term Advisory
Money-Laundering Seminar

Automation

InternationaI Customs Automation Course
International Special Automation Course
Advance Automation Special Applications Course
International Combined Automation Caribbean Course
International Harmonized Tariff Schedule

Management

Middle Management Seminar
International Management Development
“How to Operate a Customs Training Facility”

(711245)


15                        GAOiNSIAD-97-146R Customs’Office of International Affairs
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