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Highlights

With annual obligations for goods and services totaling $1.7 billion, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is one of the largest of 23 entities coming into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). INS's procurement organization will continue to acquire goods and services under DHS. GAO was asked to review INS's contracting processes to assess whether INS has an adequate infrastructure to manage its acquisitions and to determine whether INS is following sound contracting policies and procedures in awarding and managing individual contracts.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Directorate of Management The Secretary of DHS should direct the Under Secretary for Management to take the following actions as part of ongoing efforts to implement DHS procurement policies. To improve the effectiveness of the procurement function, the Under Secretary for Management should ensure that cross-functional acquisition teams, consisting of program, procurement, legal, budget, and financial officials, effectively collaborate in planning and administering contracts.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) provided a memorandum outlining steps that are in process. It is not sufficient to close out the recommendations. This recommendation is broadly applicable to DHS Procurement and not just ICE. Because we have ongoing work on DHS acquisition and oversight that encompasses a wide range of issues, and because the audit work underlying this recommendation was done at the former INS, which no longer exists, the recommendation is being closed.
Directorate of Management The Secretary of DHS should direct the Under Secretary for Management to take the following actions as part of ongoing efforts to implement DHS procurement policies. To improve the effectiveness of the procurement function, the Under Secretary for Management should create and review meaningful procurement performance measures and indicators to ensure that management directives are carried out by the large number of field activities in the department.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) provided a memorandum outlining steps that are in process. It is not sufficient to close out the recommendations. This recommendation has broader applicability to DHS as a whole, not just ICE. Because we have ongoing work on DHS acquisition and oversight that encompasses a wide range of issues, and because the audit work underlying this recommendation was done at the former INS, which no longer exists, the recommendation is being closed.
Directorate of Management The Secretary of DHS should direct the Under Secretary for Management to take the following actions as part of ongoing efforts to implement DHS procurement policies. To improve the effectiness of the procurement function, the Under Secretary for Management should, as part of its assessment of existing information systems coming into the department, determine what procurement and financial information must be gathered to obtain strategic knowledge of spending behavior across the department.
Closed - Implemented
GAO reported in March 2005 on the department's strategic sourcing program.
Directorate of Management The Secretary of DHS should direct the Under Secretary for Management to take the following actions as part of ongoing efforts to implement DHS procurement policies. To address acquisition workforce issues, the Under Secretary for Management should develop a data-driven assessment of the department's acquisition personnel, resulting in a workforce plan that identifies the number, location, and skills and competencies of the workforce. The plan should also identify key strategies to attract and retain this workforce, including use of available recruiting and retention flexibilities or other targeted approaches. As part of this planning, the Under Secretary for Management should ensure that term appointments for procurement personnel are used as intended and not to meet long-term needs.
Closed - Implemented
GAO reported in March 2005 that an acquisition workforce plan has been prepared.
Directorate of Management The Secretary of DHS should direct the Under Secretary for Management to take the following actions as part of ongoing efforts to implement DHS procurement policies. To address acquisition workforce issues, the Under Secretary for Management should explore ways of making collateral duty contracting officers in field locations more accountable through the procurement heirarchy for their contracting work.
Closed - Implemented
DHS indicated that it will phase out collateral duty contracting officers. A DHS directive states that only individuals with specific contracting officer authority may execute contracts and related agreements.
Directorate of Management The Secretary of DHS should direct the Under Secretary for Management to take the following actions as part of ongoing efforts to implement DHS procurement policies. To ensure that the department's contracts are well-managed, the Under Secretary for Management should develop a system for tracking the status of current detention facility contracts so that contracting officers and program managers are automatically alerted to begin the planning process at least two years before a new contract has to be awarded.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) provided a memorandum outlining steps that are in process. It is not sufficient to close out the recommendations. The former INS (the subject of this audit and previously the entity that awarded detention facility contracts) was divided among different bureaus with the creation of DHS. Because we have ongoing work on DHS acquisition and oversight that encompasses a wide range of issues, and because the audit work underlying this recommendation was done at the former INS, which no longer exists, the recommendation is being closed.
Directorate of Management The Secretary of DHS should direct the Under Secretary for Management to take the following actions as part of ongoing efforts to implement DHS procurement policies. To ensure that the department's contracts are well-managed, the Under Secretary for Management should implement ways of holding designated Contracting Officer's Technical Representatives responsible for monitoring, reporting, and documenting contractor performance (e.g., require them to report on a regular basis to the contracting officer).
Closed - Implemented
A DHS directive addresses the appointment and responsibilities of contracting officers' technical representatives.

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