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Highlights

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the third largest department in federal procurement spending in fiscal year 2006, has faced ongoing cost, schedule, and performance problems with major acquisitions and procurement of services. In December 2005, DHS established an acquisition oversight program to provide insight into and improve components' acquisition programs. In 2006, GAO reported that DHS faced challenges in implementing its program. Congress mandated that DHS develop an oversight plan and tasked GAO with analyzing the plan. GAO (1) evaluated actions DHS and its components have taken to implement the acquisition oversight plan and (2) identified implementation challenges. GAO also identified opportunities for strengthening oversight conducted through the plan. GAO reviewed relevant DHS documents and GAO and DHS Inspector General reports and interviewed officials in the office of the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) and nine DHS components.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of the Chief Procurement Officer 1. To improve oversight of component acquisition planning processes and the overall effectiveness of the acquisition oversight plan, the Chief Procurement Officer, Department of Homeland Security, should reevaluate the approach to oversight of acquisition planning reviews and determine whether the mechanisms under the plan are sufficient to monitor component actions and improve component acquisition planning efforts.
Closed - Implemented
In providing comments on this report, DHS concurred with this recommendation. According to representatives of the Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO), DHS has reevaluated its approach and amended provisions in the Homeland Security Acquisition Manual pertaining to the oversight of acquisition plans. Pursuant to this change, acquisition plans over $300 million are subject to OCPO review and approval. Moreover, this change provides for OCPO to review and approve any plan and conduct oversight reviews of selected acquisition plans under $300 million.
Office of the Chief Procurement Officer 2. To improve oversight of component acquisition planning processes and the overall effectiveness of the acquisition oversight plan, the Chief Procurement Officer, Department of Homeland Security, should request a periodic external assessment of the oversight plan implementation and ensure findings are communicated to and addressed by appropriate officials.
Closed - Not Implemented
In providing comments on this report, the agency concurred with this recommendation, however, as of June 2009, Chief Procurement Office representatives said they do not have plans to take action necessary to implement it.
Office of the Chief Procurement Officer 3. To improve oversight of component acquisition planning processes and the overall effectiveness of the acquisition oversight plan, the Chief Procurement Officer, Department of Homeland Security, should develop additional opportunities to share lessons learned from oversight reviews with DHS components.
Closed - Implemented
In providing comments on this report, DHS concurred with this recommendation. In September, 2009, The Office of the Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO) issued a memorandum to the DHS component Heads of Contracting Activity summarizing the results of the oversight reviews. The memo contained lessons learned from OCPO oversight reviews, including best practices.

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