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Thursday, December 03, 2009

IG Upgrades DHS Acquisition Management

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has improved management of its major management activities slightly over last year, making some progress in achieving its goals in acquisition management, according to a scorecard released Wednesday by the DHS inspector general (IG).

The scorecard found DHS making "moderate" progress in acquisition management, information technology management, and emergency management--indicating that DHS was meeting many of its goals in those areas but not quite achieving "substantial" success.

However, DHS is making only modest progress in grants management and financial management due to failing to meet many of its goals in those areas. The rating "modest" is one step below a rating of "limited" on the four-step scale used by the IG office to rate the categories in its report Major Management Challenges Facing the Department of Homeland Security.

Grants management and financial management were the weakest management areas for the department, the report found.

While FEMA made "moderate" progress in meeting the goals of successful disaster grants management, it made only "modest" progress in doing so for non-disaster grants.

For both, FEMA should exert more influence to implement improved oversight of subgrantees. But non-disaster grants management suffers from inconsistent and incomplete financial and program monitoring, the report found, partly because FEMA does not have enough grants management staffers to manage the programs.

Financial management at the department also remains weak, with the IG office granting a score of "modest" to the department's efforts. Both military and civilian financial systems at DHS face tremendous challenges.

The US Coast Guard has made little progress in tackling internal control weaknesses identified by an audit in fiscal 2008, the report said. Those weaknesses include a lack of an effective general ledger system and a lack of effective policies, procedures, and controls surrounding the financial reporting process.

While the Coast Guard plans to overcome many of these problems in future years, it lacked sufficient financial management personnel to resolve these issues in fiscal 2009, the report said.

With regard to its civilian financial systems, DHS has several internal control weaknesses in its financial reporting, particularly at FEMA and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the report said. Financial reporting actually deteriorated at US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) during fiscal 2009 as well, but problems at that agency are not as bad as problems at FEMA and TSA, the report characterized.

-Mickey McCarter, HSToday

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