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Trump admin paid $13.6 million to hire 2 border agents: watchdog

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The Trump administration paid $13.6 million this year to a private company that increased Border Patrol staffing by just two agents, according to a new federal watchdog report.

Customs and Border Protection hired Accenture to hire and recruit 7,500 agents within the next five years. But just 10 months into the contract, only two accepted job offers have been processed, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General.

Accenture, a global management consulting company headquartered in Ireland, was awarded a $297 million contract to achieve the hiring goal.

Read more: ICE has arrested 170 parents and potential caretakers trying to get their undocumented kids out of government custody

But the report says that $13.6 million has been spent in the last 10 months, and that CBP “risks wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on a hastily approved contract that is not meeting its proposed performance expectations.”

The inspector general called for “immediate” action to rectify “serious performance issues,” accused the company of relying on CBP resources instead of its own, and said Accenture is “nowhere near satisfying” its mandated goal.

A failed hiring spree

The numbers released by the government Tuesday show that deportation officers are taking Trump’s call for an immigration crackdown to heart, even without the funding increase
Associated Press/Gregory Bull

President Donald Trump has sought since his first week in office to dramatically ramp up hiring within his administration’s two key immigration-enforcement agencies: Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A January 2017 executive order even called on Border Patrol and ICE to immediately hire an additional 5,000 and 10,000 agents, respectively.

The Accenture contract was meant to help meet this mandate.

Experts and former agency officials met Trump’s order with skepticism— Border Patrol jobs are notoriously difficult to staff due to the rigorous demands of the job and the remote locations of many positions. Beyond that, turnover is high within the agency, and previous hiring sprees have met disastrous results.

A man who illegally crossed the Mexico-U.S. border evades a U.S. Border Patrol agent near McAllen, Texas.
Reuters/Loren Elliott

In 2006, the last time CBP implemented a large-scale hiring spree, there was a 44% uptick in employee arrests on suspicion of misconduct, corruption, taking bribes, or smuggling drugs or people.

In response to the watchdog report, CBP officials disagreed with the inspector general’s conclusion and said Accenture set up a new hiring process and funneled “thousands” of applicants into the pipeline for consideration.

CBP ultimately agreed to the four recommendations in the report, including that the CBP commissioner should assess Accenture’s performance in line with the contract and “determine whether Accenture should reimburse DHS for services not provided.”

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