IG, Border Protection debate consolidation's benefits

The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general recommended Customs and Border Protection officials drop a planned acquisition of a new aviation logistics management IT system and instead use the Coast Guard’s management system.

The department would save money by using the existing system, the IG wrote in a report, which was released Aug. 8.

CBP’s Office of Air and Marine has 270 aircraft of 26 different types and needs a better way to track them. The office keeps details on airplane maintenance and inventories in the Computerized Aircraft Reporting and Material Control, a system built in 1979 with a now-outdated programming language. Officials estimate they will pay more than $21 million to maintain CARMAC for the next five years, while replacing it with a new system would cost an estimated $7 million to buy and then operate over the next five years.

However, the IG report suggests that a new system, in addition to costing more than connecting to the existing system, would also weaken DHS's overall consolidation. 

“This plan would continue past practices of obtaining disparate systems that cannot share information with other components,” including the Coast Guard, the IG wrote in the report.

The Coast Guard's system is called the Asset Logistics Management Information System (ALMIS), which tracks aircraft maintenance and related details. The system has been blessed already by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and it’s operational in the DHS IT infrastructure. The Coast Guard is also updating it now. The IG said ALMIS is the best candidate for CBP officials to choose.

The IG goes on to cite the department’s goal for the coming fiscal year. DHS officials told Congress in their fiscal 2013 budget proposal they intend to emphasize the importance of consolidating and streamlining systems and operations as much as possible. Their point is to save money.

It’s not that easy though, CBP officials said. The bureau argues that it could be costly to standardize the CBP's and Coast Guard's accounting processes. CBP would have to set up a transition office to make the move, and it currently doesn’t have the resources or employees to do it.

The Air and Marine Office “simply cannot wait indefinitely on the aviation information systems unification effort when sufficient resources are neither now available nor likely to be available anytime soon for its implementation,” James Tomsheck, assistant commissioner of CBP’s Office of Internal Affairs, wrote to the IG.

He added that the IG reaches an “apparent and incorrect conclusion that consolidating IT systems always leads to efficiencies that outweigh the costs.” And, instead of saving money, the Air and Marine Office would spend more money by choosing ALMIS, especially during start-up.

To be certain of efficiencies, CBP needs to check for alternatives in the commercial sector or in government. Ultimately though, CARMAC needs to be put down to improve the agency’s operations, he wrote.

The IG responded though that ALMIS has been identified as the system DHS agencies should use for aviation logistics tracking. CBP would hinder that unification by choosing to set up its own system.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group