Homeland Security: Observations on DHS's Oversight of Major Acquisitions and Efforts to Match Resources to Needs

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "GAO has previously established that the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) acquisition policy reflects many sound program management practices intended to mitigate the risks of cost growth and schedule slips. The policy largely reflects the knowledge-based approach used by leading commercial firms, which do not pursue major investments without demonstrating, at critical milestones, that their products are likely to meet cost, schedule, and performance objectives. DHS policy requires that important acquisition documents be in place and approved before programs are executed. For example, one key document is an ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. September 19, 2013.

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "GAO has previously established that the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) acquisition policy reflects many sound program management practices intended to mitigate the risks of cost growth and schedule slips. The policy largely reflects the knowledge-based approach used by leading commercial firms, which do not pursue major investments without demonstrating, at critical milestones, that their products are likely to meet cost, schedule, and performance objectives. DHS policy requires that important acquisition documents be in place and approved before 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. However, in September 2012, GAO found that the department did not implement the policy consistently, and that only 4 of 66 programs had all of the required documents approved in accordance with DHS's policy. GAO made five recommendations, which DHS concurred with, identifying actions DHS should take to mitigate the risk of poor acquisition outcomes and strengthen management activities. Further, GAO reported that the lack of reliable performance data hindered DHS and congressional oversight of the department's major programs. Officials explained that DHS's culture had emphasized the need to rapidly execute missions more than sound acquisition management practices. GAO also 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. DHS has taken steps to improve acquisition management, but as part of its ongoing work, GAO found that DHS recently waived documentation requirements for 42 programs fielded for operational use since 2008. DHS explained it would be cost prohibitive and inefficient to recreate documentation for previous acquisition phases. GAO plans to obtain more information on this decision and its effect on the management of DHS's major acquisitions. DHS's July 2013 status assessment indicated that, as of the end of fiscal year 2012, many major programs still face cost and schedule shortfalls. DHS expects to provide another update in the near future."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • September 19, 2013

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Homeland Security: Observations on DHS's Oversight of Major Acquisitions and Efforts to Match Resources to Needs, text, September 19, 2013; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc300232/: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.