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Homeland Security: Key US-VISIT Components at Varying Stages of Completion, but Integrated and Reliable Schedule Needed

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program stores and processes biometric and biographic information to, among other things, control and monitor the entry and exit of foreign visitors. Currently, an entry capability is operating at almost 300 U.S. ports of entry, but an exit capability is not. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has previously reported on limitations in DHS's efforts to plan and execute its efforts to deliver US-VISIT exit, and made recommendations to improve these areas. GAO was asked to determine (1) the status of DHS's efforts to deliver a comprehensive exit solution and (2) to what extent DHS is applying an integrated approach to managing its comprehensive exit solution. To accomplish this, GAO assessed US-VISIT exit project plans, schedules, and other management documentation against relevant criteria, and it observed exit pilots."
Date: November 19, 2009
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: DHS Risk-Based Grant Methodology Is Reasonable, But Current Version's Measure of Vulnerability is Limited

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Since 2002, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has distributed almost $20 billion in funding to enhance the nation's capabilities to respond to acts of terrorism or other catastrophic events. In fiscal year 2007, DHS provided approximately $1.7 billion to states and urban areas through its Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism or other catastrophic events. As part of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2007, GAO was mandated to review the methodology used by DHS to allocate HSGP grants. This report addresses (1) the changes DHS has made to its risk-based methodology used to allocate grant funding from fiscal year 2007 to fiscal year 2008 and (2) whether the fiscal year 2008 methodology is reasonable. To answer these questions, GAO analyzed DHS documents related to its methodology and grant guidance, interviewed DHS officials about the grant process used in fiscal year 2007 and changes made to the process for fiscal year 2008, and used GAO's risk management framework based on best practices."
Date: June 27, 2008
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: Federal Leadership and Intergovernmental Cooperation Required to Achieve First Responder Interoperable Communications

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Lives of first responders and those whom they are trying to assist can be lost when first responders cannot communicate effectively as needed. This report addresses issues of determining the status of interoperable wireless communications across the nation, and the potential roles that federal, state, and local governments can play in improving these communications."
Date: July 20, 2004
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: New Department Could Improve Coordination but Transferring Control of Certain Public Health Programs Raises Concerns

Description: A statement of record issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Federal, state, and local governments share responsibility for terrorist attacks. However, local government, including police and fire departments, emergency medical personnel, and public health agencies, is typically the first responder to an incident. The federal government historically has provided leadership, training, and funding assistance. In the aftermath of September 11, for instance, one-quarter of the $40 billion Emergency Response Fund was earmarked for homeland security, including enhancing state and local government preparedness. Because the national security threat is diffuse and the challenge is highly intergovernmental, national policymakers must formulate strategies with a firm understanding of the interests, capacity, and challenges facing those governments. The development of a national strategy will improve national preparedness and enhance partnerships between federal, state, and local governments. The creation of the Office of Homeland Security is an important and potentially significant first step. The Office of Homeland Security's strategic plan should (1) define and clarify the appropriate roles and responsibilities of federal, state, and local entities; (2) establish goals and performance measures to guide the nation's preparedness efforts; and (3) carefully choose the most appropriate tools of government to implement the national strategy and achieve national goals. The President's proposed Homeland Security Act of 2002 would bring many federal agencies with homeland security responsibilities--including public health preparedness and response--into one department to mobilize and focus assets and resources at all levels of government. GAO believes that the proposed reorganization has the potential to repair fragmentation in the coordination of public health preparedness and response programs at the federal, state, and local levels. The proposal would institutionalize the responsibility for homeland security in federal statute. In addition to improving overall coordination, the transfer of programs from multiple agencies to the new ...
Date: July 16, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: DHS Needs a Strategy to Use DOE's Laboratories for Research on Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Detection and Response Technologies

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Success in the war against terrorism requires the United States to effectively research, develop, and deploy technologies to detect and respond to the use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 gave the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the ability to use laboratories owned by the Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct research and development (R&D) of these advanced technologies. GAO was asked to determine (1) whether DHS has completed a strategic R&D plan and coordinated its efforts with other federal agencies, (2) how DHS plans to use DOE's laboratories to carry out its R&D, and (3) what controls DHS is establishing to monitor projects at DOE's laboratories."
Date: May 24, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: Agriculture Specialists' Views of Their Work Experiences After Transfer to DHS

Description: Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Homeland Security Act of 2002 transferred responsibility for certain port inspections from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to the newly created Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Specifically, the act transferred the responsibility for inspecting passengers, baggage, cargo, and mail entering the country in airplanes, ships, trucks, and railcars for prohibited agricultural materials that may serve as carriers of foreign pests and diseases. USDA estimates that these biological invaders cost the American economy tens of billions of dollars annually in lower crop values, eradication programs, and emergency payments to farmers. Beginning in March 2003, more than 1,800 agriculture specialists who had formerly reported to USDA became CBP employees, as CBP incorporated the protection of U.S. agriculture into its primary antiterrorism mission. In addition to protecting U.S. agriculture, CBP's mission is to detect and prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, interdict illegal drugs and other contraband, and apprehend individuals who are attempting to enter the United States illegally. Responding to congressional concerns that the transfer of agricultural inspections to CBP could shift the focus away from agriculture to CBP's other mission priorities, GAO reported in May 2006 on the coordination of USDA and DHS to ensure that U.S. agriculture is protected from accidentally or intentionally introduced pests and disease. In preparing this report, we surveyed a representative sample of CBP's agriculture specialists on their work experiences before and after the transfer and included the responses to the survey's 31 multiple-choice questions in the report. The survey also asked two open-ended questions: (1) What is going well with respect to your work as an agriculture specialist? and (2) What would you like to ...
Date: November 14, 2006
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: Management of First Responder Grants in the National Capital Region Reflects the Need for Coordinated Planning and Performance Goals

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the National Capital Region (NCR), comprising jurisdictions including the District of Columbia and surrounding jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia, has been recognized as a significant potential target for terrorism. GAO was asked to report on (1) what federal funds have been allocated to NCR jurisdictions for emergency preparedness; (2) what challenges exist within NCR to organizing and implementing efficient and effective regional preparedness programs; (3) what gaps, if any, remain in the emergency preparedness of NCR; and (4) what has been the role of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in NCR to date."
Date: May 28, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: DHS Has Enhanced Procurement Oversight Efforts, but Needs to Update Guidance

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Office of the Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO) continues to implement and has improved some aspects of its procurement oversight but has not sufficiently updated its guidance. OCPO's oversight has helped ensure that DHS components receive and address constructive assessments of their compliance with procurement regulations and policies. The oversight also has increased the Chief Procurement Officer's visibility into components' progress against procurement-related metrics. For example, OCPO establishes annual procurement goals for the components and tracks their progress in quarterly reports. OCPO has been less consistent in--but continues to hone its implementation of--other aspects of the program, such as self assessments and parts of its acquisition planning reviews. However, until GAO sent DHS a draft of this report recommending that DHS issue updated policy and guidance to reflect changes to the department's procurement oversight efforts, the department did not issue updated policy or guidance. This has led to a lack of clarity among components regarding what the oversight efforts entail. For example, some components did not complete a required self assessment in 2011. GAO's review of the revised policy and guidance found inconsistencies between the two and with current oversight efforts."
Date: September 10, 2012
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Department of Homeland Security: Actions Needed to Reduce Overlap and Potential Unnecessary Duplication, Achieve Cost Savings, and Strengthen Mission Functions

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In March 2011 and February 2012, GAO reported on 6 areas where the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or Congress could take action to reduce overlap and potential unnecessary duplication, and 9 areas to achieve cost-savings. Of the 22 actions GAO suggested be taken in March 2011 to address such issues, 2 were fully implemented, 14 were partially implemented, and 6 have not been addressed. GAO’s February 2012 report identified 18 additional actions to address overlap, potential duplication, and costs savings."
Date: March 8, 2012
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: DHS Is Taking Steps to Enhance Security at Chemical Facilities, but Additional Authority Is Needed

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Terrorist attacks on U.S. chemical facilities could damage public health and the economy. While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formerly led federal efforts to ensure chemical facility security, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now the lead federal agency coordinating efforts to protect these facilities from terrorist attacks. GAO reviewed (1) DHS's actions to develop a strategy to protect the chemical industry, (2) DHS's actions to assist in the industry's security efforts and coordinate with EPA, (3) industry security initiatives and challenges, and (4) DHS's authorities and whether additional legislation is needed to ensure chemical plant security. GAO interviewed DHS, EPA, and industry officials, among others."
Date: January 27, 2006
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: First Phase of Visitor and Immigration Status Program Operating, but Improvements Needed

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established a program--the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT)--to collect, maintain, and share information, including biometric identifiers, on selected foreign nationals who travel to the United States. By congressional mandate, DHS is to develop and submit for approval an expenditure plan for US-VISIT that satisfies certain conditions, including being reviewed by GAO. Among other things, GAO was asked to determine whether the plan satisfied these conditions, and to provide observations on the plan and DHS's program management."
Date: May 11, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: Communication Protocols and Risk Communication Principles Can Assist in Refining the Advisory System

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Established in March 2002, the Homeland Security Advisory System was designed to disseminate information on the risk of terrorist acts to federal agencies, states, localities, and the public. However, these entities have raised questions about the threat information they receive from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the costs they incurred as a result of responding to heightened alerts. This report examines (1) the decision making process for changing the advisory system national threat level; (2) information sharing with federal agencies, states, and localities, including the applicability of risk communication principles; (3) protective measures federal agencies, states, and localities implemented during high (codeorange) alert periods; (4) costs federal agencies reported for those periods; and (5) state and local cost information collected by DHS."
Date: June 25, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: Much Is Being Done to Protect Agriculture from a Terrorist Attack, but Important Challenges Remain

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "U.S. agriculture generates more than $1 trillion per year in economic activity and provides an abundant food supply for Americans and others. Since the September 11, 2001, attacks, there are new concerns about the vulnerability of U.S. agriculture to the deliberate introduction of animal and plant diseases (agroterrorism). Several agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Defense (DOD), play a role in protecting the nation against agroterrorism. GAO examined (1) the federal agencies' roles and responsibilities to protect against agroterrorism, (2) the steps that the agencies have taken to manage the risks of agroterrorism, and (3) the challenges and problems that remain."
Date: March 8, 2005
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: Planned Expenditures for U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Program Need to Be Adequately Defined and Justified

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established a program--the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT)--to collect, maintain, and share information, including biometric identifiers, on selected foreign nationals who travel to the United States. By congressional mandate, DHS is to develop and submit for approval an expenditure plan for US-VISIT that satisfies certain conditions, including being reviewed by GAO. GAO was required to determine if the plan satisfied these conditions, follow up on recommendations related to the expenditure plan, and provide any other observations. To address the mandate, GAO assessed plans against federal guidelines and industry standards and interviewed the appropriate DHS officials."
Date: February 14, 2007
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: Addressing Weaknesses with Facility Security Committees Would Enhance Protection of Federal Facilities

Description: Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "To accomplish its mission of protecting about 9,000 federal facilities, the Federal Protective Service (FPS) currently has a budget of about $1 billion, about 1,225 full-time employees, and about 15,000 contract security guards. However, protecting federal facilities and their occupants from a potential terrorist attack or other acts of violence remains a daunting challenge for the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Federal Protective Service. GAO has issued numerous reports on FPS's efforts to protect the General Services Administration's (GSA) facilities. This report (1) recaps the major challenges we reported that FPS faces in protecting federal facilities and discusses FPS's efforts to address them and (2) identifies an additional challenge that FPS faces related to the facility security committees (FSC), which are responsible for addressing security issues at federal facilities. This report is based primarily on our previous work and recent FPS interviews."
Date: August 5, 2010
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security Grants: Observations on Process DHS Used to Allocate Funds to Selected Urban Areas

Description: Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In fiscal year 2006, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provided approximately $1.7 billion in federal funding to states, localities, and territories through its Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism or other catastrophic events. The Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) is a discretionary grant under this program, and since fiscal year 2003, Congress has directed DHS to target UASI funding to high-threat, high-density urban areas to assist in building capacity. To meet this requirement and inform funding decisions, DHS developed a method to estimate the relative risk of terrorist attacks to urban areas. From fiscal year 2003 through 2005, DHS used a number of risk indicators such as population density and threat to allocate UASI funds. UASI funding increased during this period from about $96 million to $830 million, while the number of urban areas that received grants grew from 7 to 43. In fiscal year 2006, DHS awarded approximately $711 million in UASI grants--a 14 percent reduction in funds from the previous year--while the number of eligible urban areas identified by the risk assessment decreased to 35. For fiscal year 2006, DHS made several changes to the grant allocation process, including modifying its risk assessment methodology, introducing an assessment of the anticipated effectiveness of investments, and combining the outcomes of these two assessments to inform funding decisions. The results of the UASI eligibility and funding allocations in fiscal year 2006 raised congressional questions and concerns about DHS's methods in making UASI determinations. Several congressional members requested that we examine aspects of DHS's UASI funding process, and the fiscal year 2007 DHS Appropriations Act directed us to examine the validity, relevance, reliability, timeliness, and availability of the ...
Date: February 7, 2007
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: Federal Protective Service's Contract Guard Program Requires More Oversight and Reassessment of Use of Contract Guards

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "To accomplish its mission of protecting about 9,000 federal facilities, the Federal Protective Service (FPS) currently has a budget of about $1 billion, about 1,225 full-time employees, and about 15,000 contract security guards. FPS obligated $659 million for guard services in fiscal year 2009. This report assesses the challenges FPS faces in managing its guard contractors, overseeing guards deployed at federal facilities, and the actions, if any, FPS has taken to address these challenges. To address these objectives, GAO conducted site visits at 6 of FPS's 11 regions; interviewed FPS officials, guards, and contractors; and analyzed FPS's contract files. GAO also conducted covert testing at 10 judgmentally selected level IV facilities in four cities. A level IV facility has over 450 employees and a high volume of public contact."
Date: April 13, 2010
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: Opportunities Exist to Enhance Collaboration at 24/7 Operations Centers Staffed by Multiple DHS Agencies

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Because terrorists do not operate on a 9-5 schedule, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its operational components have established information gathering and analysis centers that conduct activities 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Staff at these operations centers work to help detect, deter, and prevent terrorist acts. DHS has determined that out of 25 operations centers, four require higher levels of collaboration that can only be provided by personnel from multiple DHS agencies, and other federal, and sometimes state and local, agencies. For these four multi-agency operations centers, this report (1) describes their missions, products, functions, and customers and (2) assesses the extent to which DHS efforts to promote collaboration among the multiple agencies responsible for the centers reflect key practices for enhancing and sustaining collaborative efforts. To do so, GAO visited operations centers, reviewed data and reports from the centers, and interviewed center and other DHS officials."
Date: October 20, 2006
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: DHS Needs Better Project Information and Coordination among Four Overlapping Grant Programs

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Multiple factors contribute to the risk of duplication among four FEMA grant programs that GAO studied—the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP), Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), Port Security Grant Program, and Transit Security Grant Program. Specifically, these programs share similar goals, fund similar projects, and provide funds in the same geographic regions. Further, DHS’s ability to track grant funding, specific funding recipients, and funding purposes varies among the programs, giving FEMA less visibility over some grant programs. Finally, DHS’s award process for some programs bases decisions on high-level, rather than specific, project information. Although GAO’s analysis identified no cases of duplication among a sample of grant projects, the above factors collectively put FEMA at risk of funding duplicative projects. FEMA officials stated that there is a trade-off between enhancing management visibility and reducing administrative burden, but also recogized that FEMA should use more specific project-level information for award decisions and have taken initial steps towards this goal. For example, FEMA is considering how to better use existing grant information and has also begun to phase in a grants management system that includes an explicit goal of collecting project-level information. However, FEMA has not determined all of its specific data requirements. As FEMA determines these requirements, it will be important to collect the level of information needed to compare projects across grant programs. Given the limitations in currently collected information, FEMA would benefit from collecting information with greater detail as this could help FEMA better position itself to assess applications and ensure that it is using its resources effectively."
Date: February 28, 2012
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: Guidance and Standards Are Needed for Measuring the Effectiveness of Agencies' Facility Protection Efforts

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The need to better protect federal facilities, coupled with federal budget constraints and the increased scrutiny of homeland security funding and programs, has prompted the need for U.S. agencies to measure the performance of their facility protection efforts. In this environment, it is important for these agencies to ensure that investments in facility protection are providing adequate returns in terms of better protecting real property assets against terrorism. In addition, the U.S. government's national strategy, Presidential directive, and guidance on protecting critical infrastructures--including facilities--have identified the use of performance measurement as a key means of assessing the effectiveness of protection programs. Given that protection of critical infrastructures is an important issue for organizations outside of the federal government as well, it is beneficial to look to the experiences of these organizations to identify lessons learned. As such, our objectives for this review were (1) to identify examples of performance measures for facility protection being used by selected organizations outside of the federal government--including private-sector entities, state and local governments, and foreign governments, and (2) to determine the status of U.S. federal agencies' efforts to develop and use performance measures as part of their facility protection programs."
Date: May 31, 2006
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: Management of First Responder Grant Programs Has Improved, but Challenges Remain

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP)--originally established in 1998 within the Department of Justice to help state and local first responders acquire specialized training and equipment needed to respond to terrorist incidents--was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security upon its creation in March 2003. After September 11, 2001, the scope and size of ODP's grant programs expanded. For example, from fiscal year 2001 through fiscal year 2003, ODP grants awarded to states and some urban areas grew from about $91 million to about $2.7 billion. This growth raised questions about the ability of ODP and states to ensure that the domestic preparedness grant programs--including statewide and urban area grants--are managed effectively and efficiently. GAO addressed (1) how statewide and urban area grants were administered in fiscal years 2002 and 2003 so that ODP could ensure that grant funds were spent in accordance with grant guidance and state preparedness planning and (2) what time frames Congress and ODP established for awarding and distributing grants, and how time frames affected the grant cycle."
Date: February 2, 2005
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Homeland Security: DHS Requires More Disciplined Investment Management to Help Meet Mission Needs

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Nearly all of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program managers GAO surveyed reported their programs had experienced significant challenges. Sixty-eight of the 71 respondents reported they experienced funding instability, faced workforce shortfalls, or their planned capabilities changed after initiation, and most survey respondents reported a combination of these challenges. DHS lacks the data needed to accurately measure program performance, but GAO was able to use survey results, information DHS provided to Congress, and an internal DHS review from March 2012 to identify 42 programs that experienced cost growth, schedule slips, or both. GAO gained insight into the magnitude of the cost growth for 16 of the 42 programs, which increased from $19.7 billion in 2008 to $52.2 billion in 2011, an aggregate increase of 166 percent."
Date: September 18, 2012
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department