A requirement initiated in 2010 that applicants for many CBP law enforcement positions undergo polygraph testing, intended to reduce chances of corruption and abuse by those persons after hiring, had the unintended consequence of hampering the agency’s ability to recruit, a Senate report has said.

The report, on legislation (S-595) awaiting a full Senate vote, said that the CBP “is struggling to fill thousands of law enforcement vacancies,” with some 2,900 open positions. That has forced the agency to rely more on mandatory overtime and involuntary temporary duty, which in turn has hampered morale and increased turnover, compounding the problem, it said.

“CBP will not be able to address retention issues without addressing and resolving the problems responsible for slowing the hiring pipeline,” it said.

The bill would build on a change in law last year giving CBP authority to waive the polygraph requirement for certain veterans holding security clearances. This would include officers currently working for another federal agency who have the power to arrest, investigate, bear firearms, and serve warrants, if they have served for the last three consecutive years, are not under investigation nor have been found to have engaged in criminal activity or serious misconduct, and hold a current Tier 4 or Tier 5 background examination.

Local and state law enforcement officers who have the power to arrest and apprehend individuals could be considered for a waiver if they have served for the last three consecutive years; are not under investigation nor have been found to have engaged in criminal activity or serious misconduct; and have passed a polygraph test in the last ten years. And separating military personnel who have received or are eligible to receive an honorable discharge could be considered if: they have served for the last three consecutive years; have not engaged in criminal activity or serious misconduct under the military code; held a Secret, Top Secret, or TS compartment clearance in the last five years without a waiver; and had a Tier 4 or Tier 5 background investigation in the last five years.