Audit at a Glance—Chapter 5—Preventing Illegal Entry into Canada—Controls to prevent illegal entry into Canada often do not work as intended

Chapter 5—Preventing Illegal Entry into Canada

Controls to prevent illegal entry into Canada often do not work as intended

Comments from the Auditor General

The controls to prevent people from illegally entering Canada are often not working as intended, and as a result, some people who pose a threat to Canadians’ safety and security have succeeded in entering the country illegally, says Michael Ferguson, Auditor General of Canada, in his Fall 2013 report.

“It is very important for the safety of Canadians that controls at the border work as they are supposed to. I am very concerned that our audit found too many examples of controls not working.”

“Though the Canada Border Services Agency has made significant progress in some of its efforts to detect high-risk travelers, it often does not get the information it needs to identify those travelers before they arrive in Canada. Furthermore, even when the Agency has the information, we found that controls do not always work. We also found that the RCMP does not know the extent to which it is successful in intercepting people who enter the country illegally between ports of entry.”

“Though it is not the first time we have raised these issues, border controls are still not working as they should. With better analysis of existing information and better monitoring, many of these issues can be fixed.”

What we examined

Our audit examined whether selected government systems and practices to prevent the illegal entry of people into Canada are working as intended.

What we found

Better measures of how many passengers board flights to Canada without proper documentation are needed (see 5.18–5.21)

We found that the total number of improperly documented arrivals recorded in the Agency’s information system increased by 1 percent during the period of the audit, which covers two categories: cases for which the airlines were held responsible and cases for which the airlines were not held responsible. The Agency does not use the second category in its program measure, but we found that the number of such cases increased by 36 percent.

This finding is important because by including both types of cases in its program measure, the Agency would have the information it needs to know whether it is reducing the number of improperly documented arrivals.

The Agency does not receive all the information on air passengers as required by law (see 5.22–5.28)

We found that because Passenger Name Record data elements were missing, 35 passengers (11 percent) could not be assessed against any scenarios and 258 (84 percent) could be assessed only against some.

This finding is important because air passenger targeting cannot work without good-quality Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Record data.

We recommended that the Canada Border Services Agency should implement its action plan to improve the quality of Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Record data by the stated June 2014 deadline.

The new National Targeting Program has good practices, but some targets were still missed (see 5.29–5.32)

We found significant improvements in the program since 2007, including the development of formal standard operating procedures and training, and a framework to systematically measure and monitor program performance. However, while 45 of the 49 targets (92 percent) were referred from primary to secondary inspection as required, there were 4 missed targets.

This finding is important because targets are intended to identify air passengers who pose a threat to the security and safety of Canada. 8 percent of targets were missed, meaning that the subjects of the targets were not examined at the port of entry as required.

The Agency has made little improvement in its monitoring of immigration lookouts since 2007 (see 5.33–5.38)

We found that the information needed to assess immigration lookout performance is lacking.

We also found that, for 5 of the 34 lookouts (15 percent), the individual was not examined as required.

This finding is important because these lookouts are intended to intercept known high-risk individuals who attempt to enter Canada and are connected to activities such as terrorism, organized crime, or irregular migration.

We recommended that the Canada Border Services Agency should implement its action plan in response to recommendations from its 2013 internal audit of lookouts by the stated March 2014 deadline.

The Agency’s performance information is incomplete on how admissibility controls are working at ports of entry (see 5.39–5.43)

We found that performance of the Admissibility Determination program is measured by the percentage of people examined who are inadmissible or arrested. However, this measure does not include information about the circumstances in which people circumvent primary or secondary inspections, and consequently succeed in entering the country illegally.

This finding is important because review of the combined information would help the Agency to better understand how people circumvent this key control.

The Agency has not defined the availability required of its immigration enforcement information systems (see 5.44–5.47)

We found that the Agency reviews the impact of system outages and uses this information to carry out improvement activities, but it could not specify the availability level required for each of its immigration enforcement information systems.

This finding is important because the Admissibility Determination program relies on these information systems to automatically notify border services officers when travellers must be referred to secondary inspection for further examination.

We recommended that the Canada Border Services Agency should define the level of availability required of its immigration enforcement information systems, monitor the level of availability achieved, and use the information to guide efforts to improve availability.

The RCMP lacks information to monitor the success of its border enforcement activities (see 5.49–5.60)

We found that the RCMP has established and revised performance measures for its border law enforcement activities, but has not systematically gathered and analyzed the relevant information.

This finding is important because in the absence of systematic performance information, the RCMP does not know whether resources are placed where they are most effective to prevent illegal entry.

We recommended that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police should develop and fully implement a framework to measure and monitor the performance of its border law enforcement activities.

The Agency is developing integrated business plans to guide resource allocation (see 5.62–5.64)

We found that the Agency has made satisfactory progress and has put in place an integrated risk management framework and an integrated business plan methodology. The risks identified by the Agency align with threats and priorities identified by the Government of Canada, and that the Agency consults with key federal partners to consider shared risks.

This finding is important because the integrated business plans are designed to allow the Agency to use risk and performance information to identify priorities.

The RCMP does not use performance information to guide resource allocation (see 5.65–5.66)

We found that the RCMP does not use performance information to guide resource allocation for its Integrated Border Enforcement Teams and Marine Security Enforcement Teams, as required by its integrated risk management framework. It also does not systematically keep records of resource allocation decisions.

This finding is important because it is therefore not possible to review how, when, and why the RCMP made resource allocation decisions.

Why we did this audit

Preventing illegal entry has been a policy priority for the Government of Canada, especially since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. Failure to prevent illegal entry compromises Canada’s border, the immigration program, and the safety and security of Canadians. Illegal entries are also a significant burden on taxpayers.

Response

The entities accept our recommendations, and have responded.

Details of the audit

Report of the

Auditor General of Canada

Type of product

Performance audit

Topics

  • Immigration
  • Safety and Security

Audited entities

  • Canada Border Services Agency
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Completion date

30 August 2013

Tabling date

26 November 2013

Related audits

Chapter 5—Keeping the Border Open and Secure—2007 October Report of the Auditor General of Canada

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