CBP conducts trade enforcement across seven high-risk issue areas using a risk-based approach, but its plans generally lack performance targets that would enable it to assess the effectiveness of its enforcement activities. Violations in the high-risk issue areas can cause significant revenue loss, harm the U.S. economy, or threaten the health and safety of the American people. CBP’s trade enforcement activities reduce risk of noncompliance and focus efforts on high-risk imports, according to CBP. For example, CBP conducts targeting of goods, conducts audits and verifications of importers, seizes prohibited goods, collects duties, and assesses penalties. However, CBP cannot assess the effectiveness of its activities without developing performance targets as suggested by leading practices for managing for results.
Over the past 5 fiscal years, CBP generally has not met the minimum staffing levels set by Congress for four of nine positions that perform customs revenue functions, and it generally has not met the optimal staffing level targets identified by the agency for these positions. Staffing shortfalls can impact CBP’s ability to enforce trade effectively, for example, by leading to reduced compliance audits and decreased cargo inspections, according to CBP officials. CBP cited several challenges to filling staffing gaps, including that hiring for trade positions is not an agency-wide priority. Contrary to leading practices in human capital management, CBP has not articulated how it plans to reach its staffing targets for trade positions over the long term, generally conducting its hiring on an ad hoc basis.Read the full report