Critical Infrastructure:

Assessment of the Department of Homeland Security's Report on the Results of Its Critical Infrastructure Partnership Streamlining Efforts

GAO-14-100R: Published: Nov 18, 2013. Publicly Released: Nov 18, 2013.

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CaldwellS@gao.gov

 

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What GAO Found

The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) was directed by the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations to provide a report on the results of a review to streamline the processes for coordinating and sharing information with its critical infrastructure (CI) protection partners. GAO was unable to assess the extent to which NPPD's streamlining efforts were designed to ensure progress in four areas--mission clarity, useful and actionable work products, efficacy of planning and information sharing, and cost savings--because DHS's response does not discuss NPPD efforts to streamline those processes. Specifically, GAO's analysis of DHS's response showed that DHS provided information on NPPD efforts to coordinate and share information with its public and private partners (e.g., CI owners and operators) and the results of some of those efforts but did not provide information about any NPPD efforts to streamline the processes for coordination and information sharing. For example, DHS's response includes a section on coordinating and executing plans--one of the five topic areas that NPPD was required to include in its report--that describes who NPPD's partners are and ways that NPPD coordinates and executes plans with these various stakeholders. In addition, the response describes steps NPPD plans to take that are intended to improve the coordination and execution of plans. However, the response did not describe steps NPPD has taken or plans to take, if any, to streamline efforts associated with the coordination and execution of plans or how, if at all, coordination and information sharing might be affected. NPPD officials stated that they agreed with the above and that they are currently working to provide the committees with information on their streamlining efforts.

Why GAO Did This Study

A fundamental component of DHS's efforts to protect and secure our nation's CI is partnerships among public and private stakeholders. Within DHS, NPPD is responsible for working with public and private sector CI partners and leads the coordinated national effort to mitigate risk to the nation's CI through the development and implementation of the CI protection program. Using a partnership approach, NPPD works with owners and operators of the nation's CI to develop, facilitate, and sustain strategic relationships and information sharing, including the sharing of best practices. NPPD also works with public and private partners to coordinate efforts to establish and operate various councils intended to protect CI and strengthen incident response.

In 2011, a report of the Senate Committee on Appropriations accompanying H.R. 2017--the fiscal year 2012 spending bill for DHS--noted that the department's budget request stated that NPPD would streamline various methods and processes for coordination and information sharing with industry partners. The committee report directed NPPD to provide a report, not later than 60 days after enactment of the bill, on the results from a thorough review of all efforts related to five areas: (1) coordinating and executing plans; (2) implementing performance metrics; (3) sustaining systemic communication; (4) executing sector-specific agency functions; and (5) providing education, training, and outreach. The committee report further stated that GAO shall review the results of the NPPD report and related efforts of the streamlining process no later than 60 days after receiving the report to determine the extent to which NPPD's efforts were designed to ensure mission clarity, useful and actionable work products, efficacy of planning and information sharing, and that cost savings were achieved where possible. Although H.R. 2017 was not enacted into law, DHS received its appropriation through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012. Explanatory text in the conference report accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act acknowledged that NPPD is to provide a report regarding the results of a review to streamline the processes for coordination and information sharing with industry partners, and that GAO is to conduct an evaluation of the effort, as stated in the Senate report. This report discusses GAO's assessment of DHS's response to the Senate report and related efforts of NPPD's streamlining process to determine the extent to which these efforts were designed to ensure mission clarity, useful and actionable work products, efficacy of planning and information sharing, and that cost savings were achieved where possible.

To conduct this work, GAO analyzed the report DHS submitted in response to the Senate report to determine the extent to which NPPD's streamlining efforts were designed to ensure mission clarity, useful and actionable work products, efficacy of planning and information sharing, and that cost savings were achieved where possible, consistent with the language from the Senate report. In so doing, GAO reviewed the DHS annex and the referenced content in the 2011-2012 National Annual Report to determine the extent to which NPPD discussed the results of its efforts to streamline the processes for coordination and information sharing with industry partners. GAO did so within the context of the five areas outlined for NPPD in the Senate report.

What GAO Recommends

GAO makes no recommendations in this report.

For more information, contact Stephen L. Caldwell at (202) 512-9610 or caldwells@gao.gov.

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