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Highlights

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) organizations are expected to work together to protect the United States from terrorism. To support this primary mission, DHS has been acquiring billions of dollars worth of goods and services. DHS also has been working to integrate the disparate acquisition processes and systems that organizations brought with them when DHS was created 2 years ago. GAO was asked to identify (1) areas where DHS has been successful in promoting collaboration among its various organizations and (2) areas where DHS still faces challenges in integrating the acquisition function across the department. GAO was also asked to assess DHS's progress in implementing an effective review process for major, complex investments.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security To help ensure that DHS receives the goods and services it needs at the best value to the government, the Secretary of Homeland Security should establish a structure to ensure continued support for commodity councils, such as appointing full-time dedicated commodity managers, to ensure that the commodity councils develop long-term strategies, maintain momentum, and continue to realize savings.
Closed - Implemented
After completing an assessment of its the existing DHS commodity councils, DHS decided to realign the original councils and other investments across three principal commodity councils that account for about 70 percent of DHS requirements. Those councils are: Information Technology, Professional Services, and Security (all related products). Also, DHS hired two business analysts to accommodate the business analysis on a matrix basis. DHS expects to have three dedicated commodity managers by the end of calendar year 2008.
Department of Homeland Security To help ensure that DHS receives the goods and services it needs at the best value to the government, the Secretary of Homeland Security should provide the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer with sufficient resources and enforcement authority to enable effective, departmentwide oversight of acquisition policies and procedures.
Closed - Not Implemented
DHS does not agree with this recommendation. DHS believes that the Chief Procurement Officer has sufficient authority within the department.
Department of Homeland Security To help ensure that DHS receives the goods and services it needs at the best value to the government, the Secretary of Homeland Security should conduct a departmentwide assessment of the number of contracting staff and, if a workload imbalance is found, take steps to correct it by re-aligning resources.
Closed - Implemented
The Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Chief Procurement Officer has made progress in addressing acquisition workforce challenges, including contracting staff, through initiatives related to recruiting, hiring, and training contract specialists. Based on recent audit work discussed in GAO-09-30, this recommendation is closed as implemented.
Department of Homeland Security To help ensure that DHS receives the goods and services it needs at the best value to the government, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct higher-level management attention to the implementation of the working capital fund (which is to be used to fund contracting staff for the Office of Procurement Operations) by, for example, determining the level of contracting support needed by the organizations relying on this office, ensuring that appropriate funds are committed to hire needed contracting staff, and ensuring that funds are available on an ongoing basis for continuity.
Closed - Implemented
According to the DHS Congressional Budget Justification for 2010, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer planned to establish a working capital governance board and review all working capital funds activities, as well as to publish standardized criteria for use of the working capital fund. According to the 2011 justification, the board was formally established to provide oversight and help ensure all activities and cost allocations are reviewed and approved. The board also developed criteria for determining whether a new activity should be included in the working capital fund.
Department of Homeland Security To help ensure that DHS receives the goods and services it needs at the best value to the government, the Secretary of Homeland Security should revise the October 2004 management directive "Acquisition Line of Business Integration and Management" to eliminate reference to the Coast Guard and Secret Service being statutorily exempt from complying.
Closed - Implemented
In 2007, the Department of Homeland Security established the Acquisition Program Management Division (APMD) within the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer to develop and maintain acquisition policy, procedures and guidance, and provide support and assistance for Department acquisitions and acquisition personnel. The APMD's November 2008 Acquisition Directive 102-01 applies to all DHS components. By integrating the Department's acquisition function and bringing all components under the same management process, DHS actions address the intent of the recommendation.
Department of Homeland Security To help ensure that DHS receives the goods and services it needs at the best value to the government, the Secretary of Homeland Security should ensure that DHS's management directive on interagency agreements is followed and that fees paid to other agencies are tracked.
Closed - Implemented
DHS concurred with this recommendation. In 2011, DHS conducted a special review of interagency agreements to determine whether DHS contracting activities were complying with applicable guidance. This report was signed out in April 2013 and provided to GAO. The report included recommendations to ensure compliance with FAR requirements and OFPP guidance for interagency acquisitions.
Department of Homeland Security To help ensure that DHS leadership is aware of risks as they arise during the acquisition of major, complex systems, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in making revisions to the investment review policy, should require for all complex, developmental investments a formal design review between the integration and demonstration of a program to ensure that the design is stable and has been demonstrated through prototype testing.
Closed - Implemented
The Department of Homeland Security's November 2008 Acquisition Directive 102-01 requires projects to undergo Acquisition Decision Events and Systems Engineering Life Cycle Reviews to assess project maturity, risk, and technical progress at pre-defined points in the acquisition life cycle. This process includes formal reviews to help ensure that the chosen design performs as expected and that the product is producible within cost, schedule, and quality targets.
Department of Homeland Security To help ensure that DHS leadership is aware of risks as they arise during the acquisition of major, complex systems, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in making revisions to the investment review policy, should require for all complex, developmental investments a review before initial production.
Closed - Implemented
The Department of Homeland Security's November 2008 Acquisition Directive 102-01 requires projects to undergo review by the Department's Acquisition Decision Authority to support low rate production. During the "obtain" phase of the acquisition, the project develops, tests, and evaluates the capability. If low rate production is required to support operational testing, it must be approved at Acquisition Decision Event 2B.
Department of Homeland Security To help ensure that DHS leadership is aware of risks as they arise during the acquisition of major, complex systems, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in making revisions to the investment review policy, should require that program managers supply additional information--such as cost and schedule estimates based on results of a preliminary design review and critical design review--when their major, complex programs are reviewed.
Closed - Implemented
The Department of Homeland Security's November 2008 Acquisition Directive 102-01 requires projects to undergo Acquisition Decision Events and Systems Engineering Life Cycle Reviews to assess project maturity, risk, and technical progress at pre-defined points in the acquisition life cycle. For example, program managers are required to prepare and update an Acquisition Program Baseline to formally document the project's critical cost, schedule, and performance parameters. Design reviews are also conducted to ensure that projects can meet the stated performance requirements within cost and schedule constraints.
Department of Homeland Security To help ensure that DHS leadership is aware of risks as they arise during the acquisition of major, complex systems, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in making revisions to the investment review policy, should require program managers to specifically address contractor oversight in their submissions to investment review boards.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Department of Homeland Security's November 2008 Acquisition Directive 102-01 and accompanying Instruction/Guidebook do not require program managers to specifically address contractor oversight in their submissions to the Acquisition Review Board. Therefore, this recommendation is being closed as not implemented.
Department of Homeland Security To help ensure that DHS leadership is aware of risks as they arise during the acquisition of major, complex systems, the Secretary of Homeland Security should ensure that stakeholders, including acquisition officials in the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer, have adequate time to review investment submissions and provide formal input to decision-making review boards.
Closed - Implemented
DHS established the Acquisition Program Management Division (APMD) within the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer to manage DHS's Acquisition Review Process. Responsibilities include reviewing acquisitions and preparing decision-support information and analysis for the Acquisition Review Board, and preparing meeting schedules, agendas, and meeting minutes. The nominal timeline for the end-to-end acquisition review process is expected to be 60 days though this timeline will vary with the size, complexity, and readiness of programs/projects. While some challenges remain in implementing an effective oversight system, including ensuring that all major acquisition programs are reviewed, a tracking system is in place and review time frames have improved.
Department of Homeland Security To help ensure that DHS leadership is aware of risks as they arise during the acquisition of major, complex systems, the Secretary of Homeland Security should implement training for program managers on the investment review process that emphasizes the importance of a knowledge-based approach.
Closed - Implemented
Established in 2007, the Department of Homeland Security's Acquisition Program Management Division (APMD) is responsible for developing and maintaining acquisition policy, procedures and guidance, and providing support and assistance for Department acquisitions and acquisition personnel. In conjunction with the November 2008 Acquisition Directive 102-02, the APMD issued an Instruction/Guidebook which explains how to accomplish the requirements set forth in the directive, and has offered courses on the directive to DHS acquisition professionals.
Department of Homeland Security To help ensure that DHS leadership is aware of risks as they arise during the acquisition of major, complex systems, the Secretary of Homeland Security should require that major acquisitions of services be subject to oversight by the investment review board.
Closed - Implemented
The Department of Homeland Security's November 2008 Acquisition Directive 102-01 provides a framework for departmental management, support, review and approval of DHS acquisitions including service contracts.

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