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Highlights

The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) recent 4 year anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress DHS has made since its establishment. DHS began operations in March 2003 with the mission to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce vulnerabilities, minimize damages from attacks, and aid in recovery efforts. GAO has reported that the creation of DHS was an enormous management challenge and that the size, complexity, and importance of the effort made the challenge especially daunting and critical to the nation's security. Our prior work on mergers and acquisitions found that successful transformations of large organizations, even those faced with less strenuous reorganizations than DHS, can take at least 5 to 7 years to achieve. GAO was asked to report on DHS's progress in implementing its mission and management areas and challenges DHS faces. This report also discusses key themes that have affected DHS's implementation efforts.

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