IG chides DHS for careless acquisition practices
Homeland Security Department officials can reduce the risks of one of the department’s major IT integration projects if they adhere to DHS and Office of Management and Budget acquisition policies, according to a new report released Oct. 10.
A DHS inspector general’s audit found the Technology Integration Program should be a labeled as a major acquisition, which puts more review processes and stricter guidance over the project.
TIP is a large and costly acquisition that is critical to establishing a solid IT infrastructure at the St. Elizabeth’s campus. It is part of the DHS Headquarters Consolidation Program.
According to the IG: Officials need to follow the reporting requirements outlined in the capital planning and investment control plan and the Office of Management and Budget’s Exhibit 300 and Exhibit 53 reports, which are similar capital asset and budget plans. The CPIC plan is a decision-making process to ensure IT investments support the agency’s mission and its business needs. It also integrates strategic planning, architecture, security, budgeting, procurement and the management of the IT. On top of that, DHS needs to prepare a risk management plan for TIP.
"Taking these steps will help reduce the risk that the Technology Integration Program will not meet its cost and performance goals," according to the report.
However, the DHS chief administration officer’s office considers the General Services Administration responsible for the reporting requirements, since they have teamed up on the TIP. DHS officials told auditors that they consider DHS to be the customer, GSA the provider. The IG disputed that the relationship is true joint venture, and said the memorandum of understanding between the two agencies places the cost of the TIP solely on DHS’s shoulders. Thus, DHS is responsible to complete the documentation.
"Without these documents, DHS cannot demonstrate TIP’s potential return on investment. Further, it is increasing the risk that it may not meet its stated performance goals," the IG wrote.
In response to the report, DHS officials decided to make TIP a major acquisition program and begin documenting TIP in its OMB asset and budget plans.
In addition, officials are developing a specific and detailed plan for TIP, even though an overarching programmatic risk management plan has been in place for the DHS Headquarters Consolidation Program. The new added plan will lay out IT areas of responsibility, such as stakeholder-identified risks and other concerns, and also address governance and sustainment of the risk management process and plan.
"We agree that a separate risk management plan would be beneficial for managing TIP, given that moving forward it will be reported separately as a major acquisition program," Chris Cummiskey, deputy undersecretary for management at DHS, wrote in a letter to the IG.
Matthew Weigelt is a former FCW senior writer who covered acquisition and procurement.