IG to DHS: Spend more wisely

During the second half of fiscal 2007, the Homeland Security Department spent more than $12 million without proper documentation and could have spent another $26 million more wisely, according to a semiannual report to Congress from DHS’ Office of the Inspector General.

OIG issued 43 management reports, six financial-assistance grant reports and 665 investigative reports. The investigations led to 312 arrests, 351 indictments, 272 convictions and 17 personnel actions between April and September.

During the six-month period, OIG issued management reports on the agency’s cyber infrastructure, use of data-mining tools, information technology and laptop computer security.

The IG also conducted a study of DHS’ security program and practices. Additionally, it examined the Transportation Security Administration’s employee compensation and background check programs, both of which the reports found still need improvement.

OIG also surveyed DHS’ intelligence services to try to provide a reference point by which DHS managers could improve integration.

Overall, DHS managers agreed with about 91 percent of the recommendations issued in the past six months, said Richard Skinner, the department’s IG, in an Oct. 31 letter announcing the findings to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Also during those six months, the IG testified eight times at congressional hearings. At a July hearing on contractor oversight, IG Richard Skinner criticized in written testimony DHS’ handling of major information technology initiatives including SBInet and Deepwater. Skinner said the Coast Guard’s Deepwater performance requirements were ill-defined.

At the same July 18 hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Government Management, Organization and Procurement Subcommittee, he also testified about DHS’ decision to award Bechtel a second contract to install and maintain trailers in the Hurricane Katrina-affected Gulf Coast region after it performed poorly on its initial no-bid contract. Additionally, Skinner discussed the IG’s investigation of how DHS rehired contractor Wackenhut to work with Customs and Border Patrol after the company reportedly mismanaged a contract to guard the department’s headquarters. Skinner pointed to the lack of a cohesive system to let agencies view contractors' past performance information as part of the problem.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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