Big CBP recruiting contract riles government waste watchdogs

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The president wanted to add thousands more border agents, but the numbers were heading in the wrong direction. Last year, despite rigorous recruiting, the U.S. Border Patrol lost 385 agents, and ended the year down nearly 2,000. Something needed to change.

That change, according to news releases and government documents, involved hiring a recruiting firm to take over the job of finding new agents and officers and filling the vacancies. The company, Accenture, won the contract.

But it is the size of the contract that made government waste watchdogs do a double-take.

“It’s huge,” said Byron Schlomach, who is the director of the 1889 Institute, a think tank dedicated to limited government and free enterprise.

The contract calls for paying Accenture $297 million over five years to hire 7,500 agents and officers. That amounts to roughly $40,000 per recruit.

“If the Trump Administration and the Border Patrol want more and higher-quality applicants, the surest way to achieve that is to increase Border Patrol pay,” said Schlomach. “The amount of money in this obviously crony contract could increase pay an average of more than $14,000 for 21,000 agents,” he said.

A spokesperson for CBP responded to questions from CBS 5 Investigates, stating, “The costs include the start of recruitment vehicles and other systems that will be used to increase applicant viability through CBP’s rigorous 11-step hiring process. The process includes an entrance exam, interview, medical test, polygraph examination, background investigation and physical fitness test, with each step requiring different administrators and evaluators. We view this partnership with Accenture as an investment in CBP’s workforce that will inform future hiring.”

Other critics wonder whether the additional agents are even needed. The number of illegal border crossers has been declining for years. Last year, the number was just 25 percent of what it was in 2004.

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Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. In October 2016, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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