Published December 2017
By Rick W. Durham, AhtnaSTS
Ahtna Support and Training Services (AhtnaSTS) underwent two performance-based audits at the Port Isabel Detention Center. These audits involved a very comprehensive review of services provided that included security, food services, transportation operations, detainee care and safety, and facility management.
All Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Service Processing Centers are required to be annually audited under the Performance Based National Detention Standards and reaccredited tri-annually under the American Correctional Association (ACA). These audits ensure compliance with nationally recognized standards and define policies and procedures necessary for the operation of correctional programs that safeguard life, health and safety of the personnel who work in juvenile and adult facilities and programs; as well as the offenders who are a part of the correctional system.
For ICE, these audits “make or break” ICE facility management staff and can have a direct impact on career paths. As a contractor, our failure to ensure success on either of these audits/reaccreditations would certainly effect our performance scores and a failure would undoubtedly be looked at unfavorably when an Option Year approval is pending.
In February, the annual PBNDS audit was performed. AhtnaSTS received a rating of “Outstanding” with no deficiencies, which is the highest rating possible. Approximately 4 months later, in June, we underwent our tri-annual ACA Audit where we received a score of 100% on all mandatory and non-mandatory standards.
In my 14 years of Federal Contracting and oversight/management of ICE detention facilities, this is the first time I have seen a score of 100% on non-mandatory standards and the first facility to receive an overall score of 100% under ACA. That is an exceptional score and I am extremely proud of our staff and sub-contractors. As honorable mentions, I would include our sub-contractor Superior’s QA/QC staff. Their crew did an incredible job of ACA file maintenance, management of the audit process and liaison between ICE management, contract management, and ACA audit staff. David Peters, AhtnaSTS Food Service Manager, was also acknowledged for the quality of the meals served to detainees and staff.
Additionally, I want to express my gratitude and appreciation to Project Manager Andy Davila, the PIDC management staff, supervisors and detention staff. Their job knowledge, professionalism, and attitudes about their jobs were commended by the auditors and ICE. The auditors more than once stated that our officers seemed to really enjoy their jobs and were individually excited and proud of their work at PIDC. The auditors jokingly commented on the fact that not a single officer was timid regarding their job responsibilities, that they knew their responsibilities and not once did they try to avoid being questioned. All officers were able to “say what they did, did what they said, and were able to prove it.”
It is my distinct honor to be part of an award winning team that not only sets the standard, but makes the standard.