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116th Congress   }                                    {         Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session     }                                    {         116-22

======================================================================



 
    U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION RURAL AND REMOTE HIRING AND 
                     RETENTION STRATEGY ACT OF 2019

                                _______
                                

 March 28, 2019.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Thompson of Mississippi, from the Committee on Homeland Security, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 1598]

    The Committee on Homeland Security, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 1598) to require the Secretary of Homeland 
Security to issue a strategy to improve hiring and retention of 
U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel in rural or remote 
areas, and for other purposes, having considered the same, 
report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend that 
the bill as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Purpose and Summary..............................................     2
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     3
Hearings.........................................................     4
Committee Consideration..........................................     4
Committee Votes..................................................     4
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     4
C.B.O. Estimate New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and 
  Tax Expenditures...............................................     5
Federal Mandates Statement.......................................     5
Duplicative Federal Programs.....................................     5
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     5
Congressional Earmarks, Limited Tax Benefits, and Limited Tariff 
  Benefits.......................................................     5
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................     5
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................     5
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     6

    The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``U.S. Customs and Border Protection 
Rural and Remote Hiring and Retention Strategy Act of 2019''.

SEC. 2. STRATEGY.

  (a) In General.--Not later than one year after the date of the 
enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security, acting 
through the Chief Human Capital Officer of the Department of Homeland 
Security and the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 
shall issue a strategy and implementation plan, including benchmarks, 
to improve the hiring and retention of individuals by the Commissioner 
in rural or remote areas relating to employment in such areas.
  (b) Considerations.--The strategy required under subsection (a) shall 
take into consideration the following:
          (1) Feedback from individuals who are U.S. Customs and Border 
        Protection candidates or new hires at locations in rural or 
        remote areas, including feedback on the quality of life in such 
        areas for new hires and their families.
          (2) Feedback from U.S. Customs and Border Protection 
        personnel, other than new hires, who are stationed at locations 
        in rural or remote areas, including feedback on the quality of 
        life in such areas for such personnel and their families.
          (3) Feedback from U.S. Customs and Border Protection 
        personnel who have decided to separate from the agency.
          (4) An assessment of existing Federal programs, including 
        financial incentives and other compensation-based 
        flexibilities, regarding how to most effectively aid spouses 
        and families of individuals who are candidates or new hires in 
        a rural or remote area.
          (5) An assessment of Department of Homeland Security 
        internship programs and the usefulness of such programs in 
        improving hiring by the Secretary of Homeland Security in rural 
        or remote areas.
  (c) Plan.--The implementation plan required under subsection (a) 
shall--
          (1) include a pilot or other program, as appropriate, to 
        address hiring and retention challenges faced by U.S. Customs 
        and Border Protection in rural or remote areas; and
          (2) enhance strategic recruiting efforts of U.S. Customs and 
        Border Protection through relationships with institutions of 
        higher education (as such term is defined in section 102 of the 
        Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1002)), veterans 
        transition and employment centers, and job placement programs 
        in regions that could assist in filling positions in rural or 
        remote areas.
  (d) Report to Congress and GAO.--Beginning on the date that is one 
year after the date of issuance of the strategy and implementation plan 
required under subsection (a) and for four years thereafter, the 
Secretary of Homeland Security shall report to the Committee on 
Homeland Security of the House of Representatives, the Committee on 
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate, and the 
Comptroller General of the United States on the extent to which such 
strategy and implementation plan has improved the hiring and retention 
by U.S. Customs and Border Protection of employees in rural or remote 
areas.
  (e) GAO Assessment.--Not later than 120 days after receiving each 
report required under subsection (d), the Comptroller General of the 
United States shall submit to the committees referred to in such 
subsection an assessment of the effectiveness of U.S. Customs and 
Border Protection actions described in each such report, including 
recommendations for improvements as the Comptroller General determines 
appropriate.
  (f) Rural or Remote Areas Defined.--For purposes of this section, the 
term ``rural or remote areas'' means areas within the United States 
that are not within an area defined and designated as urbanized areas 
by the Bureau of the Census in the most recently completed decennial 
census and include areas along the northern and southern borders.

                          PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    The purpose of H.R. 1598 is to require U.S. Customs and 
Border Protection (CBP), in conjunction with the Department of 
Homeland Security's (DHS) Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO), 
to develop a strategy and implementation plan to improve hiring 
and retention of personnel in rural and remote areas. The 
strategy must consider direct feedback from current CBP 
personnel and their families on quality of life in rural and 
remote areas. The strategy shall include feedback from exit 
interviews of employees who are choosing to leave the agency as 
well, a recommendation from a June 2018 GAO report on CBP 
hiring challenges. It must also take into consideration an 
assessment of the effectiveness of current Federal programs, 
including financial incentives and DHS internships programs, on 
CBP's ability to recruit and retain personnel in rural and 
remote locations. The implementation plan must include a pilot 
or other program, as appropriate, to address hiring challenges 
CBP faces in those areas. The implementation plan must also 
include activities to enhance strategic recruitment efforts at 
educational institutions, veterans transition and employment 
centers and other job placement centers that operate in rural 
or remote areas. Lastly, H.R. 1598 requires CBP would to submit 
annual reports to Congress and the Comptroller General for five 
years on the effect its new efforts have on hiring and 
retention in rural and remote areas. The Comptroller General 
would, after each such report, be required to assess the 
effectiveness of CBP's efforts.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    As noted in CBP's written testimony delivered to the 
Subcommittee on Oversight, Management, and Accountability on 
March 7, 2019, many CBP duty stations are in extremely remote 
areas, a significant distance from amenities and services, such 
as medical care, child care, and schools. Geographically remote 
locations are often accompanied by extreme environments and 
harsh weather conditions and frequently have few affordable 
housing options. Difficulties in hiring and retaining personnel 
in these ``hard-to-fill'' remote locations is exacerbated by 
competition with other Federal, State, and local law 
enforcement organizations who can offer more desirable duty 
locations.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Testimony of Benjamine ``Carry'' Huffman, Acting Executive 
Assistant Commissioner, Enterprise Services, CBP and Rodolfo Karisch, 
Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief, U.S. Border Patrol, CBP. ``CBP 
Workforce Challenges: Exploring Solutions to Address Recruitment and 
Retention.'' March 7, 2019.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    On March 7, 2019, the Subcommittee on Oversight, 
Management, and Accountability heard testimony from CBP that 
hiring in rural areas ``has been a key challenge.''\2\ The 
Government Accountability Office also offered in its written 
testimony that location, ``specifically employees' inability to 
relocate to posts in more desirable locations,'' has been a 
primary challenge for the agency in retaining qualified 
personnel.\3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\Huffman and Karisch Testimony.
    \3\Testimony of Rebecca Gambler, Director, Homeland Security and 
Justice, GAO. ``U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Progress and 
Challenges in Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining Law Enforcement 
Personnel.'' March 7, 2019.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    As CBP faces these hiring and retention challenges, the 
needs along the rural and remote areas of our border are 
expanding rapidly. In recent months, for example, large groups 
of migrants--mostly comprised of families and unaccompanied 
children--have turned themselves in to Border Patrol Agents 
near remote ports of entry.\4\ In order to ensure that CBP can 
properly adapt to the changing circumstances along the remote 
sections of our southern border, we must ensure it has the 
resources to do so, and that starts with personnel.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \4\Gumprecht, Blake. ``A new group of more than 100 migrants 
apprehended at Antelope Wells Port of Entry.'' La Cruces Sun-News, 
January 18, 2019, https://www.lcsun-news.com/story/news/2019/01/18/
antelope-wells-port-of-entry-nm-illegal-group-migrants-border-patrol/
2620220002/; Kocherga, Angela. ``Group of 306 migrants arrives at 
Antelope Wells.'' Albuquerque Journal, January 25, 2019, https://
www.abqjournal.com/1272699/group-of-306-migrants-turn-themselves-in-to-
border-patrol-agents-at-antelope-wells.html.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                HEARINGS

    On March 7, 2019, the Subcommittee on Oversight, 
Management, and Accountability held a hearing entitled ``CBP 
Workforce Challenges: Exploring Solutions to Address 
Recruitment and Retention'' addressing the difficulties CBP 
faces in hiring and retaining law enforcement officers. 
Testimony was heard from Mr. Benjamine ``Carry'' Huffman, 
Acting Executive Assistant Commissioner, Enterprise Services, 
U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Ms. Rebecca Gambler, 
Director, Homeland Security and Justice Team, U.S. Government 
Accountability Office; and Mr. Anthony M. Reardon, President, 
The National Treasury Employees Union.

                        COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION

    The Committee met on March 13, 2019, with a quorum being 
present, to consider H.R. 1598 and ordered the measure to be 
reported to the House with a favorable recommendation, with 
amendment, by unanimous consent.
    The following amendments were offered and accepted by 
unanimous consent:
An amendment offered by Ms. Torres Small of New Mexico (#1) 
Page 2, line 9, insert ``relating to employment in such areas'' 
before the period at the end.

Page 3, line 10, insert ``and retention'' after ``hiring''.

An amendment offered by Mr. Higgins of Louisiana (#2) In 
section 2(b), insert after paragraph (2) the following: (3) 
Feedback from U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel who 
have decided to separate from the agency.

An amendment offered by Mr. Higgins of Louisiana (#3) In 
section 2(d), in the subsection heading, insert

``AND GAO'' after ``CONGRESS''.
In section 2(d), strike ``and the Committee'' and insert ``, the 
Committee''.
In section 2(d), insert ``, and the Comptroller General of the United 
States'' after ``Senate''.
In section 2, insert after subsection (d) the following: (e) GAO 
ASSESSMENT.

An amendment offered by Ms. Slotkin (#4) Page 4, line 12, 
insert ``and includes areas along the northern and southern 
borders'' before the period at the end.

                            COMMITTEE VOTES

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires the Committee to list the recorded 
votes on the motion to report legislation and amendments 
thereto.
    No recorded votes were requested during consideration of 
H.R. 1598.

                      COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that the 
findings and recommendations of the Committee, based on 
oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of rule X of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the 
descriptive portions of this report.

CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE ESTIMATE NEW BUDGET AUTHORITY, ENTITLEMENT 
                    AUTHORITY, AND TAX EXPENDITURES

    With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 
308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and with respect 
to requirements of clause (3)(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives and section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has requested 
but not received a cost estimate for this bill from the 
Director of Congressional Budget Office.
    The Committee has requested but not received from the 
Director of the Congressional Budget Office a statement as to 
whether this bill contains any new budget authority, spending 
authority, credit authority, or an increase or decrease in 
revenues or tax expenditures.

                       FEDERAL MANDATES STATEMENT

    An estimate of Federal mandates prepared by the Director of 
the Congressional Budget Office pursuant to section 423 of the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act was not made available to the 
Committee in time for the filing of this report. The Chairman 
of the Committee shall cause such estimate to be printed in the 
Congressional Record upon its receipt by the Committee.

                      DUPLICATIVE FEDERAL PROGRAMS

    Pursuant to clause 3(c) of rule XIII, the Committee finds 
that H.R. 1598 does not contain any provision that establishes 
or reauthorizes a program known to be duplicative of another 
Federal program.

                    PERFORMANCE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

    The Committee states that pursuant to clause 3(c)(4) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, H.R. 
1598 would aid CBP in meeting its recruitment and retention 
needs in rural and remote areas.

                          ADVISORY ON EARMARKS

    In compliance with rule XXI of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, this bill, as reported, contains no 
congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff 
benefits as defined in clause 9(d), 9(c), or 9(f) of the rule 
XXI.

                      ADVISORY COMMITTEE STATEMENT

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act were created by this 
legislation.

                  APPLICABILITY TO LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.

             SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS OF THE LEGISLATION

Section 1. Short title

    This section provides that this bill may be cited as the 
``U.S. Customs and Border Protection Rural and Remote Hiring 
and Retention Strategy Act of 2019''.

Sec. 2. Strategy

    Subsection (a) requires the Commissioner of CBP and the 
CHCO of DHS, not later than one year after the enactment of 
this bill, to issue a strategy and implementation plan, 
including benchmarks, to improve the hiring and retention of 
personnel in rural or remote areas.
    Subsection (b) requires the strategy to take into account 
specific information. First, the strategy shall consider direct 
feedback from candidates, current CBP personnel stationed at 
rural or remote locations, and CBP personnel who have decided 
to separate from the agency. Second, the strategy must take 
into account an assessment of programs, including financial 
incentives, that evaluates how to effectively aid spouses and 
families of individuals who work in rural or remote locations. 
Finally, the strategy must consider an assessment of Department 
internship programs that evaluates whether those programs 
improve hiring in rural or remote areas.
    Subsection (c) requires that the implementation plan 
include a pilot or other program to address the hiring and 
retention challenges faced by CBP in rural or remote areas. The 
plan must also enhance recruiting efforts by having CBP build 
relationships with higher-educational institutions, veterans' 
transition and employment centers, and job placement programs 
in rural or remote areas.
    Subsection (d) instructs the Secretary of Homeland 
Security, beginning one year after the date of the issuance of 
the strategy and implementation plan and for four years 
thereafter, to report to Congress and the Comptroller General 
on the effects its new efforts have on hiring and retention in 
rural or remote areas.
    Subsection (e) instructs the Comptroller General, not later 
than 120 days after the delivery of each report required under 
subsection (d), to submit to Congress an assessment of the 
effectiveness of CBP's actions described in each such report. 
This assessment should include recommendations for improvements 
to CBP's efforts.
    Subsection (f) defines the term ``rural or remote areas'' 
as those areas within the United States that are not within an 
area defined and designated as urbanized by the Bureau of the 
Census in the most recently completed decennial census and 
includes areas along the northern and southern border.

                                  [all]