The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, led to profound changes in government agendas, policies and structures to confront homeland security threats facing the nation. Most notably, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began operations in 2003 with key missions that included preventing terrorist attacks from occurring in the United States, reducing the country's vulnerability to terrorism, and minimizing the damages from any attacks that may occur. DHS is now the third-largest federal department, with more than 200,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $50 billion. Since 2003, GAO has issued over 1,000 products on DHS's operations in such areas as border and transportation security and emergency management, among others. As requested, this testimony addresses DHS's progress and challenges in implementing its homeland security missions since it began operations, and issues affecting implementation efforts. This testimony is based on a report GAO is issuing today, which assesses DHS's progress in implementing its homeland security functions and work remaining.
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