Watchdog says department lacks mechanisms to oversee workforce spending.
Though Congress provides more than $1 billion in funds to train personnel at the Department of Homeland Security, DHS spends a small fraction of that on workforce training—at least according to its bookkeepers.
As an example of the iffy bookkeeping, auditors found that in fiscal 2014, Congress provided $1.4 billion for training, but the department reported spending only $1.9 million to the Office of Personnel Management. And as of August 2015, the DHS Office of the Chief Financial Officer could account for only $267 million in training expenditures in the prior year. Such lack of oversight on data quality, the Homeland Security inspector general found, meant the department reported only 1 percent of its training expenditures that year.
“DHS lacks reliable training cost information and data needed to make effective and efficient management decisions,” the IG concluded in a report released Wednesday. “It does not have an effective governance structure for its training oversight, including clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and delegated authorities” to oversee training programs, the watchdog wrote.
The difficulty the massive department would have in tracking training funds was predicted as far back as 2003, when the Government Accountability Office named human capital management as a high-risk area for the fledgling new department merging 22 agencies.
But DHS has failed to fully implement as many as 29 recommendations for improving training efficiencies made by several working groups, the new report said.
Among other problems, the IG found that the Transportation Security Administration did not report any training costs for January 2015, but after being questioned by IG staff, that agency reported $23 million in training expenditures.
DHS also lacks an oversight structure to monitor training after it transferred authority in 2012 to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer and to departmental components. Such oversight is supposed to be supervised by the undersecretary for management, through the chief financial officer.
Inspector General John Roth recommended that DHS establish a better process for tracking training funds, set up an oversight structure and implement the remaining past efficiency recommendations.
Departmental managers agreed with the recommendations, with corrective actions underway for completion this year.