Key Issues > DHS Implementation and Transformation
homeland security icon, source: Homeland Security

DHS Implementation and Transformation

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made progress in improving and integrating its management areas (acquisitions, financial management, human capital, and information technology), but continues to face considerable challenges that have impacted the department’s ability to satisfy its missions.

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Since 2003, GAO has designated the implementation and transformation of DHS as high risk because DHS had to combine 22 agencies—several with major management challenges—into one department, and failure to effectively address DHS’s management and mission risks could have serious consequences for U.S. national and economic security. DHS has taken action to implement, transform, and integrate its management functions, but continues to face challenges that directly affect its ability to meet its homeland security and other missions. For example:

  • Acquisitions. Key DHS aviation security technology acquisitions—Advanced Imaging Technology and explosive detection systems—did not meet intended requirements and were not appropriately tested and evaluated, among other things; and the department needs to better adhere to its acquisition guidance and GAO best practices for cost and schedule estimation.
  • Human Capital. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within DHS has faced challenges in addressing workforce planning and training needs for its more than 18,000 employees who are responsible for preparing for, responding to, and mitigating all hazards; and could benefit from documenting long-term and quantifiable mission critical goals to guide the agency’s workforce planning and training efforts.
  • Financial Management. DHS has been unable to obtain an audit opinion on its internal controls over financial reporting due to material weaknesses in internal controls, and much work remains to modernize components’ financial management systems. Without sound controls and systems, DHS faces long-term challenges in obtaining and sustaining an audit opinion on internal controls over financial reporting, and ensuring its financial management systems generate reliable, useful, and timely information for day-to-day decision making.
Looking for our recommendations? Click on any report to find each associated recommendation and its current implementation status.

Department of Homeland Security:

Continued Progress Made Improving and Integrating Management Areas, but More Work Remains
GAO-12-1041T:
Published: Sep 20, 2012. Publicly Released: Sep 20, 2012.

Federal Emergency Management Agency:

Workforce Planning and Training Could Be Enhanced by Incorporating Strategic Management Principles
GAO-12-487:
Published: Apr 26, 2012. Publicly Released: Apr 26, 2012.

Department of Homeland Security:

Progress Made and Work Remaining in Implementing Homeland Security Missions 10 Years after 9/11
GAO-11-881:
Published: Sep 7, 2011. Publicly Released: Sep 7, 2011.

Homeland Security:

DHS Could Strengthen Acquisitions and Development of New Technologies
GAO-11-829T:
Published: Jul 15, 2011. Publicly Released: Jul 15, 2011.

Department of Homeland Security:

Actions Taken Toward Management Integration, but a Comprehensive Strategy Is Still Needed
GAO-10-131:
Published: Nov 20, 2009. Publicly Released: Dec 15, 2009.

More Reports

Coast Guard Acquisitions:

Better Information on Performance and Funding Needed to Address Shortfalls
GAO-14-650T:
Published: Jun 18, 2014. Publicly Released: Jun 18, 2014.

Civilian Intelligence Community:

Additional Actions Needed to Improve Reporting on and Planning for the Use of Contract Personnel
GAO-14-692T:
Published: Jun 18, 2014. Publicly Released: Jun 18, 2014.

Biosurveillance:

Observations on the Cancellation of BioWatch Gen-3 and Future Considerations for the Program
GAO-14-267T:
Published: Jun 10, 2014. Publicly Released: Jun 10, 2014.

Coast Guard Acquisitions:

Better Information on Performance and Funding Needed to Address Shortfalls
GAO-14-450:
Published: Jun 5, 2014. Publicly Released: Jun 18, 2014.

DHS Intelligence Analysis:

Additional Actions Needed to Address Analytic Priorities and Workforce Challenges
GAO-14-397:
Published: Jun 4, 2014. Publicly Released: Jun 4, 2014.

Maritime Security:

Progress and Challenges with Selected Port Security Programs
GAO-14-636T:
Published: Jun 4, 2014. Publicly Released: Jun 4, 2014.

Information Technology:

Agencies Need to Establish and Implement Incremental Development Policies
GAO-14-361:
Published: May 1, 2014. Publicly Released: May 8, 2014.

Homeland Security Acquisitions:

DHS Could Better Manage Its Portfolio to Address Funding Gaps and Improve Communications with Congress
GAO-14-332:
Published: Apr 17, 2014. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 2014.

Advanced Imaging Technology:

TSA Needs Additional Information before Procuring Next-Generation Systems
GAO-14-357:
Published: Mar 31, 2014. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 2014.

Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan:

Additional Actions Needed to Strengthen Management and Assess Effectiveness
GAO-14-411T:
Published: Mar 12, 2014. Publicly Released: Mar 12, 2014.
More...

Videos

Department of Homeland Security: Progress Made in Implementation and Transformation of Management Functions, but More Work Remains

Podcasts

TSA's Aviation Security EffortsWednesday, March 17, 2010
Homeland Security 10 Years after 9/11Wednesday, September 7, 2011
  • portrait of David C. Maurer
    • David C. Maurer
    • Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues
    • maurerd@gao.gov
    • 202-512-9627