Homeland Security Moves Closer to Getting Off GAO's High-Risk List

Jeff Gentner/AP file photo

The Homeland Security Department has taken significant steps toward earning removal from the Government Accountability Office’s high-risk list, GAO reported.

In an array of high-risk areas in which DHS bears sole responsibility—management functions, flood insurance, cybersecurity and terrorism information sharing—managers are demonstrating clear progress, though more is needed, GAO said in a report released Thursday.

In strengthening management functions, DHS met GAO criteria for leadership commitment and corrective action to reduce management risks. But it only met the criteria for having sufficient resources, having a framework to monitor progress and demonstrating sustained progress. In human capital management, for example, GAO noted that DHS ranked a lowly 36th of 37 agencies in employee job satisfaction as indicated in the Office of Personnel Management’s annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. “DHS has considerable work ahead to improve its employee morale,” GAO wrote.

In the acquisition area, “DHS has made progress in initiating efforts to validate required acquisition documents,” but half of major programs “lack an approved baseline, 77 percent lack approved life-cycle cost estimates and the department has not implemented its acquisition policy consistently,” the report said.

In financial management, the department needs to “eliminate all material weaknesses at the department level in areas such as property, plant and equipment before its financial auditor can assert that the controls are effective," GAO stated. 

Auditors also said that in information technology management, DHS must finalize the key governance directive and implement it across all 13 of its investment portfolios.

In the National Flood Insurance Program, which is in debt to the Treasury Department by $24 billion, managers at the Federal Emergency Management Agency need to modernize the claims and policy management system and oversee compensation of insurers that sell NFIP policies.

The watchdog said DHS also needs to continually diagnose day-to-day threats to computer network protection capabilities, and to better coordinate fusion centers with field offices in sharing intelligence to help prevent terrorist attacks.

GAO noted that DHS has implemented 65 percent of auditors’ recommendations made since 2003 and has plans to implement others.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.