IG: DHS botched management software rollout

DHS seal 

A $24 million Department of Homeland Security software-as-a-service personnel talent management system doesn't deliver the savings or functionality that was promised, according to an oversight report from the Office of Inspector General.

Despite spending $24.2 million on the Performance and Learning Management System that was aimed at handling workforce training and performance management, the report said, DHS has been unable to make the system meet operational requirements for those duties.

DHS signed a five-year blanket purchase agreement in 2013 with Visionary Integration Professionals for services under PALMS. That BPA had an estimated $95 million ceiling.

The program, said the report, as supposed to save $52 million over five years. The OIG said DHS accepted PALMS as operational in January 2015, despite concerns raised by "several internal stakeholders."

The predicted savings didn't materialize because the PALMS program office failed to effectively handle its acquisition methodology and then didn't monitor the contractor's performance closely, the OIG found.

Between August 2013 and November 2016, DHS spent more than $5.7 million for unused and partially used subscriptions; $11 million to extend contracts of existing learning management systems; and $813,000 for increased program management costs.

PALMS still doesn't meet requirements for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Coast Guard or the Transportation Security Administration, according to the report.

The DHS IG report wasn't the first to note problems with the program. The Government Accountability Office issued a report in 2016 saying PALMS had programmatic and technical challenges that resulted in implementation delays.

"Our auditors found that this acquisition failure literally meets GAO's textbook definition of 'waste,'" said Inspector General John Roth in a July 6 statement issued with the report. "While DHS expected PALMS to achieve cost savings of more than $52 million over a five-year period, two years after accepting it from the contractor, it still does not meet the department's operational requirements."

DHS agreed with the OIG's recommendations to improve the system, which include renegotiating BPA pricing for services and other management and planning changes.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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