The CBP faces numerous challenges in fully staffing its workforce but improvements in the recruitment and hiring process have proven to be effective in increasing the number of applications received and in shortening hiring time, the agency recently told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The number of border patrol agent and CBP officer applicants rose from about 40,000 in FY 2014 to above 115,000 in both FY 2015 and FY 2016, said Mark Morgan, chief of the Border Patrol.

He noted that hiring into those positions is “intentionally rigorous,” requiring applicants to demonstrate high levels of integrity, physical fitness and commitment, as well as to pass examinations including a polygraph test. “A large number simply do not meet CBP’s rigorous employment requirements. Moreover, competition from the military and other federal, state, and local entities that have similar recruitment needs are making it more difficult to attract sufficient numbers of suitable applicants to the law enforcement profession, including USBP’s frontline positions,” he said.

Also, with annual turnover in the 4-5 percent range, the agency must hire about 1,000 a year just to keep up with attrition.

He said the agency is taking steps such as opening multiple job opportunity announcements for vacancies; creating a group of uniformed agents, officers and other personnel, to provide support and expertise to recruitment offices; creating “hiring hubs” that compress multiple processes and several months of the hiring process into a one-week timeframe in a central location; and recruitment on DoD bases of military service members transitioning to civilian life.

“CBP is also focused on reducing attrition by exploring opportunities to utilize pay and compensation flexibilities such as special salary rates, relocation and retention incentives, tuition assistance, and student loan repayments to incentivize mission critical personnel to remain with CBP. Because mobility and assignment diversity are important to CBP’s law enforcement personnel, CBP is also exploring new ways to utilize rotational assignments and reassignment opportunities,” he added.