Firm with $297 Million Government Contract to Boost Border Patrol Hires Only 15 Agents
In a fleecing of American taxpayers, a company with a $297 million government contract to hire Border Patrol agents has only managed to enlist 15. No joke. A year ago, the Trump administration contracted the Arlington, Virginia-based firm, Accenture Federal Service, to recruit 7,500 new agents to help fortify the famously porous border. A year — and millions of dollars later — the company has fallen shamelessly short of fulfilling the terms of the deal. Apparently, 33 additional candidates have accepted job offers but they haven’t officially started working for the agency.
The embarrassing figures were provided by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) this week to an online news site that covers the federal government. Penned last November, the government’s five-year contract with Accenture calls for bringing 5,000 Border Patrol agents, 2,000 CBP officers, and 500 air & marine officers. So far, the agency has doled out $43 million and the cash will keep flowing until it reaches the contract’s nearly $300 million limit unless the government terminates the agreement. Those who bother doing the math will discover that under the deal it will cost Uncle Sam around $40,000 for each new hire, a figure that’s roughly equal to a Border Patrol agent’s starting annual salary.
The online news article that exposed this travesty quotes several unnamed sources at the Homeland Security agency, including a genderless CBP “spokesperson” who said Accenture has 3,700 additional candidates in the hiring process and that the company expects a “gradual increase of candidates.” Another CBP source trashed the Accenture deal, saying the following in the story: “This really has been a huge waste of money since Accenture received a large up-front amount, regardless of if they hired anyone,” said the person who called the deal “flawed from the beginning.” The reporter reached out to Accenture but a spokeswoman declined to comment and referred all inquiries to the government.
Earlier this year a senator, who is a ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, questioned the controversial multi-million-dollar Accenture contract. In a letter to CBP’s acting commissioner, Senator Claire McCaskill points out that the agency will still pick up the bill for the most expensive of the hiring costs. This includes medical exams, physical fitness tests, background questionnaires and investigations, interviews, polygraphs, and drug tests. “This means that CBP’s own hiring components may need additional resources to accommodate the increase in personnel,” McCaskill writes, not imagining that only 15 new agents were hired in a year. At the time the agency employed 19,437 Border Patrol agents, 947 Air and Marine interdiction agents, and 23,079 CBP officers.
CBP has long been plagued with corruption and many worry a hiring frenzy could make things worse because the agency will lower standards to meet President Donald Trump’s executive order mandating thousands of new border agents. In the last two years, more than 3,000 CBP employees were disciplined, reprimanded, suspended, or terminated, according to agency records. In 2016, 251 CBP employees were arrested, the records show, and in 2017, the agency reveals that 245 were arrested. In the records, CBP writes that “49 percent of all employee arrests were attributable to criminal conduct.” The stats are processed through the agency’s Joint Intake Center (JIC), a central clearinghouse for receiving, processing and tracking allegations of misconduct involving personnel and contractors employed by CBP. In 2016, JIC saw a 34% increase in misconduct cases over 2015 and a 46% increase in 2017 over the previous year.