GAO raps DHS strategic plan

Homeland Security: Management and Programmatic Challenges Facing the Department of Homeland Security

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The Homeland Security Department is still struggling in its effort to forge a single organization out of what once were 22 separate agencies, according to a Government Accountability Office document.

DHS has a strategic plan, but the plan does not link resource requirements to goals and objectives and does not involve key personnel to ensure that resources are used to address the highest priorities, GAO found.

The findings appear in written testimony that GAO officials prepared for Comptroller General David Walker to present today to the House Appropriations Committee's Homeland Security Subcommittee. It does not include any recommendations.

DHS has not yet produced a final plan to specify how it will address its management challenges, according to GAO. The plan should identify the root causes of known problems, set out concrete steps to correct them, and have the support of agency management.

GAO placed DHS's implementation and transformation on its list of high-risk projects in 2003, when the agency was first formed, and has kept it on the list ever since. GAO made the decision to keep it on the list for 2007 because the department has still only made halting progress.

Specifically, GAO said DHS:

  • Lacks a comprehensive management integration strategy.
  • Has a strategic plan that address five of the six Government Performance and Results Act elements that such plans are required to contain, but does not link resource requirements to goals.
  • Has several programs that have not yet developed outcome-based performance measures.
  • Has not performed comprehensive risk assessments in transportation, trade, critical infrastructure or immigration and customs systems.
  • Maintains 10 internal control weaknesses that have blocked the agency from ever getting a clean audit on its financial statements.
  • Has not institutionalized an effective strategic framework for information management.

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