The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has experienced "ongoing difficulties" as it seeks to meet President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE's goal of hiring 15,000 new immigration officers and border agents, a DHS official told The Los Angeles Times in a report published Sunday.
“We have had ongoing difficulties with regards to hiring levels to meet our operational needs,” the unnamed DHS official told the Times on Saturday.
The official noted that Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) gained 120 new agents last year, its first net gain in five years, calling the increase "a huge improvement."
CBP in November 2017 signed a $60.7 million contract with consulting firm Accenture Federal Services as part of a nearly $300 million contract to onboard 7,500 officers by 2022. Accenture has so far only landed 33 new hires, according to the Times.
A government watchdog report on November 2018 concluded that DHS was struggling to hire and train new agents, concluding that the agency was unprepared to bring on thousands of new hires. The report found the "hiring surge" had not begun, the Times noted.
CBP currently has more than 3,000 job vacancies, despite Trump two years ago signing an executive order calling for 10,000 more immigration officers, according to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Sunday shows preview: Pelosi announces date for infrastructure vote; administration defends immigration policies GOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation MORE's (D-Calif.) office, the Times reported.
The Office of the Inspector General at the end of last year raised concerns about the Accenture hiring contract, claiming that it was extraordinarily costly for a venture that had yielded unsatisfactory results so far.
"CBP hired Accenture to recruit and hire qualified candidates," the watchdog report read. "Accenture claimed it would have the capability and capacity to perform all steps of the hiring process within 90 days of awarding the contract. However, with the contract nearing the end of its base year, Accenture has yet to demonstrate the efficient, innovative, and expertly run hiring process."
"In its first year, CBP’s contract with Accenture has already taken longer to deploy and delivered less capability than promised," the report concluded. "Accenture is nowhere near satisfying its 7,500-person hiring goal over the next 5 years. Further, CBP has used significant staffing and resources to help Accenture do the job for which it was contracted. As such, we are concerned that CBP may have paid Accenture for services and tools not provided."
CBP scaled back the Accenture contract in response, the Times reported, cutting it by more than half.
But Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and CBP have struggled to meet the hiring goals set by Trump in 2017, sources told the Times.
ICE has reportedly added 1,325 immigration officers over the past two years, far below the executive order's demand.
DHS has long struggled to retain employees, Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonExecutive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump Jan. 6 panel subpoenas four ex-Trump aides Bannon, Meadows Democratic anger grows over treatment of Haitian migrants MORE (D-Miss.) told the Times.