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Monday, February 26, 2024

OIG: DHS Cannot Determine the Total Cost, Effectiveness, and Value of Its Joint Task Forces

The Department of Homeland Security has not effectively managed and coordinated its Joint Task Forces (JTF) to accomplish the JTFs’ intended mission, the DHS Office of Inspector General found.

Specifically, OIG found DHS did not:

  • maintain oversight authority over the JTFs, as secretaries and senior leadership changed;
  • implement and update policies and procedures;
  • identify optimal JTF staffing levels and resources; and
  • establish a process to capture associated costs with the JTFs.

DHS also did not fully comply with Public Law 114- 328 requirements to: submit an annual cost and impact report to Congress; establish outcome-based performance metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of each JTF and annually report the results to Congress; and establish and maintain a joint duty training program.

OIG said this occurred because DHS did not designate a department-level office to manage and oversee the JTFs and help fulfill the public law requirements. Therefore, the JTFs did not receive the necessary leadership and guidance to accomplish their intended mission. Without department-level JTF management and oversight, DHS is unable to determine the total cost, effectiveness, and value of JTFs and cannot ensure resources allocated to JTFs are used effectively and efficiently.

The audit is a legislative mandate established by Public Law 114-328, which authorized DHS to establish and operate JTFs that conduct joint operations using department resources to secure the nation’s land and maritime borders. Our objective was to determine whether DHS has effectively managed and coordinated its JTF resources to accomplish the JTFs’ intended mission.

On April 22, 2014, then-Secretary Jeh C. Johnson, announced the Unity of Effort initiative to improve cohesiveness in the Department of Homeland Security and empower its components to execute operations effectively. In 2015, the Department developed the Plan for Securing the U.S. Southern Border and Approaches Campaign (SBAC) to unify border security efforts department-wide. To support the Unity of Effort and SBAC, DHS established three joint task forces (JTF) — JTF-East, JTF-West, and JTF-Investigations — to enforce immigration laws, prevent illegal entries, interrupt transnational criminal organizations, and minimize the terrorism threat to our nation.

The SBAC plan outlines a framework for JTFs to conduct joint operations and investigations and coordinate Secretary-approved operational priorities within designated joint operating areas (JOA), supported by the components to achieve SBAC objectives. JTF-East and JTF-West are regionally based and responsible for coverage of the southern land and maritime borders. JTF-Investigations is a functionally based task force that provides investigatory support to JTF-East and JTF-West.

OIG made seven recommendations to improve DHS’ management and oversight of its JTFs and ensure compliance with legislative requirements. DHS provided a management response, but declined to comment, since Acting Secretary Chad Wolf is currently reviewing the status and future of the JTFs.

Read the OIG report

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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