DHS IG slams lack of IT systems for Katrina buys

Already under fire for apparently botched procurements after Hurricane Katrina last year, the Homeland Security Department faces criticism from its inspector general, whose report states that DHS has insufficient information technology resources to monitor procurements.

An audit of the DHS Office of the Chief Procurement Officer shows that the department “does not have a comprehensive IT system that can provide reliable information on procurement related to DHS’ response to Hurricane Katrina.”

DHS still hasn’t completed plans to provide timely and accurate procurement data to the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation (FPDS-NG), as it’s required to do, the report states.

DHS has not yet established required interconnection security agreements for connection between contract-writing systems and the Homeland Security Contract Information System (HSCIS), which put the data it collects at risk, the report states.

As potential fixes, the IG recommends more accurate and timely delivery of data to FPDS-NG, and ending the use of the HSCIS as a feeder system to FPDS-NG. Elaine Duke, DHS chief procurement officer, agreed with both suggestions in a response to the IG’s report.

However, she disagreed with the IG’s recommendations to update the Homeland Security Acquisition Manual to be consistent with governmentwide procurement policies. The manual is consistent with current Federal Acquisition Regulation requirements and will be updated only when the FPDS-NG manual is updated, Duke said.

In recent testimony at a House hearing that also criticized DHS’ Katrina procurements, Duke said at least some of the problems the department encountered were the result of too few employees trained to manage the procurement process.

She said she has requested 200 more procurement positions in the fiscal 2008 budget.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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