Key Issues > Duplication & Cost Savings > GAO's Action Tracker > Securing the Northern Border (2011-22)
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Homeland Security/Law Enforcement: Securing the Northern Border (2011-22)

Department of Homeland Security oversight could help eliminate potential duplicating efforts of interagency forums in securing the northern border.

Action:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should provide guidance and oversight for interagency forums which include both Integrated Border Enforcement Team (IBET) and Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) interagency forums to help prevent duplication of effort and help efficiently utilize personnel resources to strengthen DHS's coordination efforts along the northern border.

Progress:

DHS has taken steps to meet the intent of GAO’s December 2010 recommendation by establishing formal coordination meetings and procedures between the IBET and BEST programs and by issuing a 2016 policy directive related to deconfliction. During the course of GAO’s fiscal year 2018 audit work, GAO met with DHS field officials from all operating locations along the northern border as well as officials from the government of Canada to obtain their perspectives on the IBET and BEST programs. DHS and Canadian officials have formal coordination meetings and procedures in each location, such as periodic meetings of BEST agency partners and Joint Management Teams overseeing IBET activities to deconflict ongoing activities and investigations between the two programs. DHS officials also identified nationwide and regional systems used to share information and deconflict investigations and activities as well as a DHS policy requiring the use of those systems—DHS Policy Directive 045-04, Department Policy Regarding Investigative Data and Event Deconfliction (Oct. 18, 2016). This policy directive related to deconfliction, along with the formal coordination meetings and procedures between the IBET and BEST programs help to prevent duplication of effort and help the efficient utilization of resources to strengthen DHS coordination efforts along the northern border.

Implementing Entity:

Department of Homeland Security

Action:

As the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) establishes a mechanism for determining the benefits of participating in the Integrated Border Enforcement Team (IBET) and Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) interagency forums, DHS could lead efforts to develop a framework for identifying the costs incurred by all partners participating in each forum.

Progress:

As of December 2018, DHS had not taken, and did not plan to take, any actions to identify the costs incurred by all partners participating in the IBET and BEST programs. However, the circumstances related to the IBET and BEST have changed since GAO reported on these programs in December 2010, such that the action is no longer necessary. As a result, GAO is closing this action as not addressed.

During the course of GAO’s fiscal year 2018 audit work, GAO met with DHS field officials from all operating locations along the northern border as well as officials from the government of Canada to obtain their perspectives on the IBET and BEST programs. DHS and Canadian officials stated that they did not have concerns regarding overlap and duplication of efforts between the IBET and BEST programs because the programs’ missions are different—the BEST program is an investigative task force, while the IBET program functions primarily as an information sharing mechanism through a signed, binational charter. Additionally, DHS established formal coordination meetings and procedures between the two programs and issued a policy directive in 2016 related to deconfliction. GAO determined that, because of the lack of overlap and duplication of efforts identified by partner agencies and the current differences in implementation of the two programs, developing a framework for identifying participation costs associated with the IBET and BEST programs is no longer necessary. 

Implementing Entity:

Department of Homeland Security
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    • Rebecca Gambler
    • Director, Homeland Security and Justice
    • gamblerr@gao.gov
    • (202) 512-8777