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Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Homeland Security

GAO-22-105702 Published: Jul 15, 2022. Publicly Released: Jul 22, 2022.
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Fast Facts

Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help improve the federal government. We alert department heads to where they can save the most money, address issues on our High Risk List, or significantly improve government operations.

This report outlines our 46 priority open recommendations for DHS as of July 2022. The recommendations relate to emergency preparedness, border and transportation security, infrastructure, cybersecurity and IT, chemical security, countering violent extremism, and domestic intelligence and information sharing.

Since our previous letter in August 2021, DHS implemented 5 of our priority recommendations.

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What GAO Found

In August 2021, GAO identified 40 priority recommendations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Since then, DHS has implemented 5 of those recommendations. In doing so, DHS (1) developed a model to better assess the contributions of surveillance technologies and border barriers to border security operations and applied this information when making investment and resource allocation decisions: (2) established methods for monitoring the implementation of DHS's cybersecurity functions and communicating results to management on an on-going basis; (3) developed a schedule and plan to complete a high value asset program reassessment to address federal agency cybersecurity risks; and (4) developed a strategy and implementation plan to help coordinate its chemical defense programs and activities.

Additionally, GAO closed one priority recommendation related to DHS's cost analysis process for constructing border barrier segments because the recommendation was overcome by events. This closure reduced the number of remaining priority open recommendations to 34.

In July 2022, GAO identified 12 additional priority recommendations for DHS, bringing the total number to 46. The 46 recommendations fall into the following areas:

  • Emergency preparedness and response.
  • Border security.
  • Transportation security.
  • Infrastructure and management.
  • Information technology and cybersecurity.
  • Chemical security.
  • Countering violent extremism.
  • Domestic intelligence and information sharing.

DHS's continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations.

Why GAO Did This Study

Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015, GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations.

For more information, contact Charles M. Johnson, Jr. at (202) 512-8777 or

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