GAO urges better collaboration among DHS' four ops centers

The Government Accountability Office has told the Homeland Security Department to broaden collaboration among its four round-the-clock operations centers.

The four centers bring together staff from multiple agencies involved with homeland security. Customs and Border Protection runs two of the centers, the Transportation Security Administration runs one and DHS' Office of Operations Coordination runs the other.

“Opportunities exist to enhance collaboration,” GAO auditors wrote in a newly released report on how the four centers function.

GAO noted that the centers have different missions and produce different products, "yet they all contribute to the larger mission of DHS and have similar functions and customers."

Multiple agencies contribute employees to the centers, but they do not have joint strategies for defining agencies’ roles, assessing staffing needs and collaborating on their work, according to the report.

The problems are apparent at a more technical level, too. According to GAO, employees working at the centers have not learned basic standards and procedures for using the Homeland Security Information Network, DHS' primary information-sharing system.

The GAO report recommends that the director for operations coordination give the centers guidance on key practices that will enhance and sustain collaboration. DHS officials agree and have identified a number of ways they can enhance collaboration, according to the report.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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