Information Technology: Management Improvements Needed on the Department of Homeland Security's Next Generation Information Sharing System Page: 2 of 58
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Accountability. Integrity. Reliability
Highlights of GAO-09-40, a report to
Why GAO Did This Study
The Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) is responsible for
coordinating the federal
government's homeland security
communications with all levels of
government. In support of this
mission, DHS implemented, and
has been enhancing, the Homeland
Security Information Network
(HSIN). It also has proposed a
follow-on system, called Next
Generation HSIN (HSIN Next Gen).
GAO was asked to determine
whether (1) DHS has stopped
further improvements on HSIN and
if so, the department's rationale for
doing so and plans for acquiring its
proposed follow-on system HSIN
Next Gen and (2) the department is
effectively managing the HSIN Next
Gen acquisition. To accomplish
this, GAO analyzed documentation,
interviewed officials, and
compared acquisition management
processes and practices defined in
industry best practices with those
planned and underway by DHS.
GAO recommends strengthening
acquisition management controls
before the department starts to
migrate existing users to the new
system by, among other things,
staffing the program office
appropriately, ensuring all user
requirements are gathered, and
identifying key risks surrounding
the project. In written comments
on this report, DHS described
actions planned and underway to
address GAO recommendations.
To view the full product, including the scope
and methodology, click on GAO-09-40.
For more information, contact David A.
Powner at (202) 512-9286 or
Management Improvements Needed on the
Department of Homeland Security's Next Generation
Information Sharing System
What GAO Found
DHS halted further improvements on the existing HSIN system in September
2007. Since then, the department has continued to operate and maintain the
system while a replacement-HSIN Next Gen-is being planned and acquired.
DHS decided in large part to pursue this replacement due to
* the existing system has security and information-sharing limitations that
do not meet department and other users' needs, thus impeding the
department's ability to effectively perform its mission; and
* the new system is to be a key part of a departmentwide consolidation
effort to, among other things, reduce the number of systems within DHS
that share sensitive but unclassified information.
DHS has developed an acquisition strategy for HSIN Next Gen, whereby the
system is to be implemented in four phases, each providing for an increasing
number of users to be transitioned to the system. For example, DHS plans to
begin transitioning existing HSIN users beginning in May 2009. Further, in
May 2008, DHS issued a task order engaging a contractor to acquire, deploy,
operate, and maintain the new system. The total estimated value of the task
order's initial year is $19 million; the order also includes 4 option years that if
exercised, are estimated to be worth $62 million. DHS intends to continue to
use the existing HSIN with the goal of terminating its use in September 2009
when HSIN Next Gen is to be fully completed. DHS estimates it will cost $3.1
million to operate and maintain HSIN between now and its planned
September 2009 termination.
DHS is in the process of implementing key acquisition management controls
for HSIN Next Gen, but has yet to implement the full set of controls essential
to effectively managing information technology system projects in a rigorous
and disciplined manner. Specifically, it has not fully implemented key process
controls in the areas of
project and acquisition planning,
requirements development and management, and
DHS officials, including the Office of Operations Coordination and Planning's
Chief Information Officer, who is responsible for managing the project,
attribute the partial implementation of these key processes in large part to the
aggressive schedule for acquiring and deploying HSIN Next Gen. The Chief
Information Officer also stated the department plans to address these
weaknesses by, for example, tasking its contractor to assist in the
development and completion of the risk management process area, but had
not yet established dates for when all of these activities will be completed.
Until these weaknesses are effectively addressed and DHS implements and
institutionalizes the full set of acquisition management controls, the project
will be at increased risk of operating in an ad hoc and chaotic manner-
potentially resulting in increased project costs, delayed schedules, and
United States Government Accountability Office
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Information Technology: Management Improvements Needed on the Department of Homeland Security's Next Generation Information Sharing System, report, October 8, 2008; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc302653/m1/2/: accessed January 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.