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GAO still not impressed with DHS’s management of its major acquisition programs

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on September 19 that concluded that, though it has made some improvements in recent years, the Department of Homeland Security still has a long way to go in managing its major acquisition programs.

Back in 2012, the GAO reported that “most of the department’s major programs cost more than expected, took longer to deploy than planned, or delivered less capability than promised,” said the new study.

DHS had a policy that required that important acquisition documents be in place and approved before major programs are executed. “For example, one key document is an acquisition program baseline, which outlines a program’s expected cost, schedule, and the capabilities to be delivered to the end user,” the GAO explains.

Even with that policy in place, however, DHS often fell short in assembling the required documents. In fact, in September 2012, the GAO found that only four of 66 programs had all of the required documents approved in accordance with DHS’s own policy.

More recently, the GAO found, DHS “waived documentation requirements for 42 programs fielded for operational use since 2008.”

Also, GAO has observed that DHS tends to make its major investment decisions on a “program-by-program” basis, or on a “DHS component-by-DHS component” basis, rather than establishing departmental spending priorities across the board. To address this issue, GAO has recommended the use of a high-level oversight board that would “identify potential trade-offs among DHS’s component agencies.”



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