Customs bares personnel recruitment woes

Customs needs additional manpower to protect Guam's borders. (PNC photo)

The Guam Customs and Quarantine agency today reiterated that it is short of personnel and that it is having difficulties in recruiting and retaining customs officers.

GCQA director Ike Peredo told lawmakers during a visual oversight hearing that they need additional manpower to protect Guam’s borders.

“We have always been short on personnel. The problem is that we never had money for recruitment. We never had money for equipment, such as the latest technologies that are being used at the borders,” Peredo said.

He added that the GCQA budget ceiling that is being allowed for every fiscal year is dependent on how much it collects.

“We use the revenues generated from this just to support operations but we never have the resources, or the funding, that’s needed to fund the recruitment process. And that’s what’s needed within the agency,” Peredo said.

To make matters worse, Peredo said there is a high turnover among existing GCQA personnel because they retire or leave for higher-paying federal jobs.

“We need to continue recruitment because people are leaving us, our officers are retiring, or they’re moving to federal agencies. And that’s why if you look around here on our island, we have federal agencies that are now manned by former customs officers,” Peredo said.

He added that when their scanning machine broke down, they had to resort to manual inspection, resulting in a not so thorough inspection of incoming shipments.