GAO: ICE IT program at risk

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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The Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) information technology modernization program is at risk because the bureau has done minimal planning and management, congressional investigators said.

According to a Government Accountability Office report, Homeland Security Department officials satisfied legislative conditions to get $40 million in fiscal year 2004 funds for a program called Atlas, which is supposed to improve information sharing, information security and workforce productivity. But it was based on plans and program officials’ oral commitments.

The report states that ICE, which is part of DHS, has not provided a current life cycle cost estimate or a cost-benefit analysis for the program as required by the Office of Management and Budget. Atlas also has an incomplete set of performance goals and measures, an outdated security plan and no privacy impact assessment for the program. These are also OMB capital planning requirements, according to GAO’s report.

“The program manager acknowledged these shortfalls and either planned or orally committed to fully satisfy the requirements when expenditure funds become available,” the report states.

Since ICE took over responsibility of Atlas in 2003, the bureau has changed the program’s scope, purpose and priorities, including expanded support of law enforcement units, integrating future anti-terrorism programs and information sharing worldwide, according to the report, which was released today.

Additionally, ICE has established an Atlas program office, but it is inadequately staffed and not operational. Officials are reviewing a draft management structure and plan for the new office.

“Moreover, of the $63.52 million that ICE reported was obligated for Atlas in fiscal years 2002 and 2003, only about $900,000 (or about 1.4 percent of the total amount) was obligated for program management capabilities,” the report states. “In contrast, our work on other IT modernization programs (including two in DHS) show that 19 percent was invested in such management capabilities.”

The GAO report states that the current state of planning and management puts the program at risk, partly because of redirecting funding and staff for the Atlas program to other competing priorities and to the lack of needed investments in program management capabilities.

The report issued several recommendations, including developing a revised and updated cost-benefit analysis, making the program management operational, and developing and implementing a privacy impact assessment, security plan and performance management practices.

DHS officials concurred with the report's findings, and they are taking action to implement them, the report states.


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