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GAO Recommendations To Improve CBP’s Work To Prevent The Importation Of Goods Made With Forced Labor

Map - Forced Labor
10 Countries from Which CBP Currently Detains Certain Imported Goods It Suspects Were Produced with Forced Labor, as of April 2021 – GAO Analysis of CBP Data

In 2020 and 2021, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued 3 reports with 5 recommendations to improve the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) work to prevent the importation of goods made with forced labor.

In “Forced Labor: CBP Should Improve Communication to Strengthen Trade Enforcement,” GAO-21-259, March 1, 2021, the GAO recommended CBP make a description of its withhold release order (WRO) revocation and modification process publicly available. CBP agreed with GAO’s recommendation.

In “Force Labor Imports: DHS Increased Resources and Enforcement Efforts, but Needs to Improve Workforce Planning and Monitoring,” GAO-21-106, October 27, 2020, GAO recommended CBP should ensure that the Office of Trade performs and documents a needs assessment to identify potential gaps in the workforce of its Forced Labor Division; CBP should ensure that the Forced Labor Division issues guidance or takes other steps to improve the completeness, consistency, and accuracy of its summary data on active, suspended, and inactive forced labor investigations; and, CBP should ensure that the Office of Trade sets targets for key performance indicators related to the enforcement of the prohibition on forced labor imports. CBP concurred with all three recommendations.

In “Forced Labor: Better Communication Could Improve Trade Enforcement Efforts Related to Seafood,” GAO-20-441, June 18, 2020, GAO recommended CBP better communicate to stakeholders the types of information stakeholders could collect and submit to CBP to help the agency initiate and investigate forced labor cases related to seafood and, as appropriate, other goods. CBP agreed with GAO's recommendation.

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