As GAO reported in its 2019 high-risk update, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has continued its efforts to strengthen and integrate its acquisition, information technology, financial, and human capital management functions. As a result, the department has continued to meet three out of five criteria for removal from GAO’s High-Risk List (leadership commitment, action plan, and monitoring) and partially meet the remaining two criteria (capacity and demonstrated progress).
With regard to leadership commitment, DHS’s top leadership has continued to demonstrate support for addressing the department’s management challenges through, for example, its Integrated Priorities initiative to strengthen the integration of DHS’s business operations across the department. Additionally, DHS has established an action plan for addressing the high-risk area and has issued 14 updated versions since 2011. This action plan also demonstrates DHS’s ongoing monitoring of these efforts as it describes DHS’s progress to-date and planned corrective actions.
The two key areas where additional work is needed are DHS’s capacity and demonstrated progress. With regard to capacity, DHS needs to make additional progress identifying and allocating resources in the areas of acquisition, information technology, and financial management. With regard to demonstrated progress, DHS should show the ability to achieve sustained improvement across 30 outcomes that GAO identified and DHS agreed were needed to address the high-risk area.
GAO found in its 2019 high-risk update that DHS fully addressed 17 of these outcomes, while work remains to fully address the remaining 13. DHS has made some progress in recent years regarding human capital and information technology outcomes, but needs to continue implementing its action plan to show measurable, sustainable progress in achieving the 13 outcomes not yet fully addressed.
Since 2003, GAO has made about 2,800 recommendations to DHS to strengthen its management efforts, among other things. DHS has implemented more than 75 percent of these recommendations which have strengthened program management and performance measurement.