Two bills advanced by the House Homeland Security Committee and now ready for a full House vote seek to address chronic under-staffing at CBP.
HR-1639 would require the use of workload staffing models to determine staffing needs for all of the agency’s subcomponents. A committee report on the measure said that the most recent plan did not take into account some pertinent issues nor does it explain how the additional agents the administration has requested would be deployed. It also points to an IG report from earlier this year finding “a disparity between hours scheduled and the amount of time agents are paid for, which hinders CBP’s ability to determine if it is fulfilling all mission requirements.”
HR-1598 would require DHS to produce a plan focusing specifically on hiring and retention of CBP personnel in rural or remote areas, a problem due to issues ranging from lack of medical services and housing to extreme environmental conditions. That plan is to reflect information from exit interviews and feedback from current employees and their families and is to include assessments of possible additional recruitment efforts in such areas and expanding financial incentives for both current employees and job candidates.
Movement of the bills follows recent passage by the House of HR-1433, which would require DHS to take a series of steps to improve career development opportunities for employees, increase their engagement and morale, and create new forms of recognition for significant contributions. Also, a recently introduced Senate bill (S-1004) would authorize a hiring surge at CBP to increase the number of officers by 600 each year until the agency closes its staffing shortfall.