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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

DHS faces stiff acquisition, IT management challenges, IG says

The Department of Homeland Security is facing major challenges ensuring employee accountability, streamlining acquisitions and managing its IT projects, according to an annual report released Nov. 18 by the DHS inspector general.

The IG received over 29,000 complaints against DHS employees and opened more than 1,000 investigations — achieving 300 convictions and affecting 100 personnel action. DHS must quickly recognize poor performers and illegal acts and move to stop them, the IG said.

The agency also struggles with delivering its acquisitions on time and on budget with the right capabilities, according to the report. While DHS has made some efforts to better manage its acquisitions it needs to continually improve and assess its efforts, the IG said.

DHS should also work on other management issues, including:

  • Financial management: While the agency was able to obtain a clean financial audit for the second year in a row, it required considerable manual effort by the agency to overcome flaws in its financial IT systems, according to the IG. The agency needs to strengthen its financial management programs to eliminate these issues and make it easier to produce a clean audit.

  • Grants management: Most of the challenges in grant management rest with the Federal Emergency Management Administration, which did not properly spend and document about 23 percent of disaster-assistance grants.

  • Operations integration: The IG identified projects and programs shared between agencies that had weak levels of oversight, and that the agency does not have adequate systems to centrally track some of these shared programs. DHS spent more than $35.3 million on a fleet of cars shared between components that were underused, the IG said.

DHS agreed with many of the IG findings and said that many of the issues are being addressed by the agency-wide effort to coordinate and combine a diverse set of legacy agencies into one cohesive unit. The “Unity of Effort” initiative is building important bridges in DHS’ planning, programming and budgeting processes, according to Jim Crumpacker, the director of the departmental IG liaison office.

-Andy Medici, FederalTimes.com

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