Border Patrol Losing Agents Faster Than They Can Be Hired

A recent GAO report said that the Border Patrol is losing agents faster on average than it can hire new ones.

A recent study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is losing agents faster than they can be replaced.

Hiring Shortages

According to the GAO, CBP hired an average of 523 agents per year while losing an average of 904 agents per year between fiscal years 2013 to 2016.

Additionally, from fiscal years 2011 through 2016, CBP was required to maintain a minimum of 21,370 full-time equivalent agent positions, but the agency has faced challenges in staffing to that minimum level. As of May 2017, it employed 19,500 agents.

On top of all of these facts, CBP is required to hire another 5,000 agents per an executive order issued by President Trump when he took office.

Reasons for the Hiring Shortages

The GAO report said that CBP is facing challenges such as competing with other federal, state, and local law enforcement organizations for applicants. The agency also faces hiring and retention challenges based on realities of the job agents have: they have to take a polygraph examination as part of the hiring process, they are deployed to less desirable duty locations, and agents generally receive lower compensation compared to similar positions at other agencies within the Department of Homeland Security.

The overall purpose of GAO’s report was to analyze factors in deployment decisions made by CBP and to determine where apprehensions of illegal crossers and seizures of contraband are occurring along the border. GAO did not make any recommendations for CBP in its report.

GAO Report on Border Patrol Hiring Shortages

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.