Inspection of the Influx of New Personnel
Report Number 1-2000-018
During our initial review in 1995 we identified some problem areas that limited INS's ability to increase Border Patrol staffing by approximately 1,000 new Border Patrol agents a year. At the time of our current review, some of those problems have been resolved while others have not. In addition, new areas of concern have arisen that make increasing Border Patrol staffing at a rate of roughly 1,000 new agents a year difficult or impossible.
In our 1995 report the main problem areas were the shortage of training capacity and deployment issues relating to facilities, vehicles, support personal, and equipment. At that time, recruiting/hiring was not a problem as sufficient numbers of applicants were in a reserve pool. During our current review, we found that a problem now exists with recruiting/hiring, and there is no longer a problem in the area of training. We also found that while there have been some improvements with some of the deployment issues, many of the original areas of concern in deployment still exist.
The problem INS is currently experiencing in recruiting and hiring the required numbers of new Border Patrol agents seems primarily related to the current economy. The changes that have been made by transferring the hiring functions to the National Hiring Center in Minnesota, training and utilizing uniformed agents as recruiters, establishing compressed hiring sites, and modifying the written entrance test have all shown positive results with recruiting and hiring. However, because of the reliance on the internet by an increasing number of applicants, we would suggest that the Border Patrol enhance its official web site to more fully reflect the current Border Patrol duties and life.
With the addition of the Charleston facility as an adjunct training site, the Border Patrol Academy is in an excellent position to fully train the required number of new Border Patrol agents as long as the agents are hired and brought on board at a consistent rate throughout the year. The current training facilities would not be adequate if all the hiring is done at or near the end of the fiscal year which would increase the number of trainees at the Academy beyond it's capacity. While utilizing experienced field agents as detailed instructors continues to provide benefits to the Academy, the Border Patrol needs to ensure that the ratio of experienced to new agents in the field is not adversely affected by this practice.
Although there have been some minor improvements, the Border Patrol is still having problems with most areas of deployment. In our 1995 review, the insufficient amount of personal equipment such as body armor was at an almost dangerous level. This situation has been remedied with and new agents have received all of their personal equipment prior to commencing their official duties. There still appears to be shortages at some locations of station equipment such as sensors and cameras. Another area where significant improvements have been made is the ratio of supervisory to new agents. Locations now are consistently maintaining a 7:1 ratio; however, this ratio can change quickly if a station receives a large influx of new agents at once.
While new vehicles arrive regularly with new agents, the Border Patrol is still failing to adequately replace older vehicles. The current three percent funding replacement cycle is far too long for any vehicles, especially ones that are subjected to high mileage and very rough terrain.
The Border Patrol needs to continue to work on its future planning efforts, particularly with regard to facility improvements. Because of the time lag between developing deployment plans and the building cycle, there continues to be severe overcrowding at some stations along the Southwest Border. In addition, many stations lack sufficient support personnel and Border Patrol agents must perform these tasks. Because agents do not regularly report the time they spend performing support functions, the Border Patrol lacks the data necessary to justify requests for support personnel. Therefore, the Border Patrol needs to find a way to assess time spent by Border Patrol agents performing support-related duties to justify future budget requests.
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