In January 2003, GAO designated the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) implementation and transformation as high risk because of the size and complexity of the effort and the existing challenges faced by the components being merged into the department. The success of the effort to integrate numerous agencies and organizations into one cabinet-level department rests in large part on DHS's ability to effectively acquire the wide range of goods and services it needs to achieve its mission of protecting the nation from terrorism. DHS is undertaking a number of large, complex investments as the federal government increasingly relies on contractors for roles and missions previously performed by government employees. One of the department's largest investments--the Deepwater program, now estimated to cost $24 billion--is the Coast Guard's major effort to replace or modernize its aircraft and vessels. Rather than using a traditional acquisition approach, the Coast Guard is using a system integrator to design, construct, deploy, support, and integrate the Deepwater assets. In this testimony, the Comptroller General discussed (1) the overarching challenges DHS faces in establishing an effective acquisition organization, (2) GAO's prior work on Coast Guard and contractor management of the Deepwater program, and (3) the status of GAO's ongoing reviews.
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