Most major DHS acquisitions are over budget, behind schedule: GAO

12 of 15 large Homeland Security procurements suffer from cost overruns, planning obstacles and execution challenges

The Homeland Security Department continues to have problems with acquisition management, with several major procurements incurring cost increases and nearly all suffering from delays, the Government Accountability Office concludes in a new report.

Of the 15 major DHS acquisition programs reviewed by GAO, 12 reported cost growth and almost all programs reported schedule delays, according to GAO. The report provides an overview of acquisition shortcomings, as well as descriptions of problems for the 15 specific procurements.

Overall, the department’s acquisition spending has increased by 66 percent, from $8.5 billion in fiscal year 2004 to $14.2 billion in fiscal year 2009, and the number of large and complex acquisitions continues to increase.


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“While DHS has made recent progress in clarifying acquisition oversight processes, much remains to be done to ensure proper implementation and departmentwide coordination,” Acting Comptroller General Gene Dodaro wrote.

The department’s acquisitions are managed by 12 agencies and offices through a dual accountability structure. Many of the 67 acquisitions funded in fiscal 2009 existed before DHS was formed in 2003.

Programs suffered from planning challenges, including staffing shortages and lack of sustainment planning, as well as execution challenges related to technical capability, dependence on contractor partners, and funding issues, the GAO said.

“The Department must undertake significant and concerted efforts to reform and centralize its procurement efforts, engage in strategic long-term life cycle planning for major acquisitions, and hire and train a sufficient number of personnel to decrease its reliance on outside contractors,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in commenting on the report.

The GAO made no new recommendations in the report, saying that it this was a status report and it had previously made recommendations on the programs. DHS officials generally have agreed with the GAO’s previous recommendations about acquisition management.

 

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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