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Homeland Security: DHS Internal Entities Facilitate Information Sharing in Key Areas and Collaborate as Needed

GAO-24-106896 Published: Apr 16, 2024. Publicly Released: Apr 16, 2024.
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Fast Facts

Nine formal groups within the Department of Homeland Security routinely share information to advise leaders, guide internal policies, and identify potential threats.

We found no unnecessary duplication among the groups, but some of their purposes and activities had the potential for overlap. Agency officials said groups collaborate to avoid duplication. For example, the Homeland Security Intelligence Council—composed of less-senior staff than the Counter Threats Advisory Board—holds its meetings about a month before the board does, so the board can use the council's detailed information in its meetings.

The Department of Homeland Security's external sign, featuring the agency's emblem.

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What GAO Found

GAO identified nine Department of Homeland Security (DHS) groups that are focused on sharing information internally within the department. GAO found the purpose of these groups was generally to facilitate information sharing for one of the following three purposes: (1) leadership decision-making; (2) internal policymaking, or (3) threat identification. 

Categories of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Internal Information Sharing Groups and Their Purpose

Note: These groups were operational any time from January 1, 2020, through September 30, 2023.
aDHS discontinued the Operations Deputies Board in 2022 as part of a departmental reorganization initiative.

Although there was no evidence of unnecessary duplication among these nine groups, GAO found that some of the groups' purposes and activities had the potential for overlap. In those instances, GAO also found that agency officials associated with these groups described activities to leverage their respective resources and information—a leading interagency collaboration practice—to mitigate possible duplication. For example, according to DHS officials, the Homeland Security Intelligence Council, which is composed of less senior staff than the Counter Threats Advisory Board, schedules its meetings to occur a month or so before board's meetings. This allows the more detailed information from the council meetings to inform meetings of more senior staff serving on the board.

Why GAO Did This Study

GAO was asked to review the number and purpose of groups DHS uses to promote information sharing across its headquarters offices and components. This report (1) describes the various groups DHS uses to promote internal information sharing and their purpose and operating status and (2) identifies the extent to which any similar groups collaborate to avoid duplicating efforts.

GAO identified information sharing groups with select characteristics that were operational any time between January 1, 2020, and September 30, 2023, the most recent calendar years at the time GAO distributed its request for information to DHS. GAO reviewed documentation, such as charters, policies, and procedures, and interviewed relevant DHS headquarters and component officials about the history of the information sharing groups it identified.

For more information, contact Triana McNeil at: 202-512-8777 or

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