It Takes an Average of 9 Months to Hire a Border Patrol Agent

IG says Trump will face challenges with DHS hiring 5,000 new agents

A Customs and Border Patrol agent patrols along the international border after sunset in Nogales, Ariz. / AP
A Customs and Border Patrol agent patrols along the international border after sunset in Nogales, Ariz. / AP

According to the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), it takes more than nine months to hire one Border Patrol Agent.

John Roth told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs during his testimony on Wednesday that inefficiencies within the department will bring a "number of challenges" for the government to meet President Donald Trump's executive order to hire 5,000 additional Border Patrol Agents.

"We recently completed an audit that highlighted numerous bottlenecks in effective hiring," said Roth in his prepared remarks. "We found that historically DHS components had insufficient staffing in the human resource area and had inadequate systems to track and process applicants."

As of two years ago, Roth said, it took the department nearly a year to hire a new agent.

"In fiscal year (FY) 2015, it took an average of 282 days (over 9 months) to hire a Border Patrol Agent, measured from the time the job announcement closed to the date the applicant was hired," he explained. "Other positions likewise encountered significant delays."

The subject of the hearing was "High Risk: Government Operations Susceptible to Waste, Fraud, and Mismanagement."

In one of his first acts as president, Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 25 directing the government to begin steps to beef up border security, build a wall on the southern border, and hire thousands of additional Border Patrol Agents.

"Subject to available appropriations, the Secretary, through the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, shall take all appropriate action to hire 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents, and all appropriate action to ensure that such agents enter on duty and are assigned to duty stations as soon as is practicable," the executive order stated.

The inspector general said he has initiated a series of audits to review and improve the department's management so it "can quickly and effectively hire a highly qualified and diverse workforce."

"Our first engagement will compile and review open source literature, other government reports, and prior work of our office to help the Department and its components avoid previously identified poor management practices and their negative impacts," Roth said. "Subsequent audits will address the collateral impact hiring 15,000 agents and officers will have not only on other Departmental components, but also on other Federal agencies."

The White House referred comment to DHS. U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not respond to request for comment at press time.