Homeland Security:

Weak Oversight of Human Resources Information Technology Investment Needs Considerable Improvement

GAO-16-407T: Published: Feb 25, 2016. Publicly Released: Feb 25, 2016.

Additional Materials:


Carol R. Cha
(202) 512-4456


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

What GAO Found

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made very little progress in implementing its Human Resources Information Technology (HRIT) investment over the last several years. This investment includes 15 improvement areas; as of November 2015, DHS had fully implemented only 1.

Status and Planned Completion Dates for Implementing the 15 Strategic Improvement Areas, as of November 2015

Strategic improvement area


Original planned completiona

Current expected completion date

1. Data management and sharing

September 2014


2. Performance measures tracking and reporting

December 2012


3. Personnel action processing

September 2013


4. Human resources document management

September 2014


5. End-to-end hiring

December 2016


6. Performance management

December 2012


7. Off-boarding process

December 2012


8. Policy issuances and clarification

June 2015


9. Payroll action processing

June 2014


10. HRIT deployment process

September 2012


11. Knowledge management

December 2014


12. Training

June 2015


13. Communication and collaboration among components

December 2012


14. On-boarding process

December 2012


15. HRIT intake process

December 2011

Implemented October 2011

Key: ●Fully implemented ◐Partially implemented ○Not yet started

Source: GAO analysis of data provided by DHS officials. | GAO-16-407T

aDates reflect the last month of the quarter in which the areas were planned to be complete.

HRIT's limited progress was due in part to the lack of involvement of its executive steering committee—the investment's core oversight and advisory body. Specifically, this committee was minimally involved with HRIT, such as meeting only once during a nearly 2-year period when major problems were occurring, including schedule delays and the lack of a life-cycle cost estimate. As a result, key governance activities, such as approval of HRIT's operational plan, were not completed. Officials acknowledge that HRIT should be re-evaluated. They have met to discuss it; however, specific actions and time frames have not yet been determined. Until DHS takes key actions to manage this neglected investment, it is unknown when its human capital management weaknesses will be addressed.

Why GAO Did This Study

DHS's human resources information technology environment includes fragmented systems, duplicative and paper-based processes, and little uniformity of data management practices, which according to DHS, are compromising the department's ability to effectively carry out its mission. DHS initiated HRIT in 2003 to consolidate, integrate, and modernize DHS's human resources information technology infrastructure. In 2011, DHS redefined HRIT's scope and implementation time frames.

This statement summarizes GAO's report that is being released at today's hearing (GAO-16-253) on, among other objectives, the progress DHS has made in implementing the HRIT investment and how effectively it managed the investment.

What GAO Recommends

In its report that is being released today, GAO made 14 recommendations to DHS to, among other things, address HRIT's poor progress and ineffective management. For example, GAO recommended that the HRIT executive steering committee be consistently involved in overseeing and advising the investment, and that DHS establish time frames for re-evaluating HRIT and develop a complete life-cycle cost estimate for the investment. DHS concurred with the 14 recommendations and provided estimated completion dates for implementing each of them.

For more information, contact Carol R. Cha at (202) 512-4456 or ChaC@gao.gov.

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