U.S. Army Sgt. Anthony Sarmiento of the California National Guard’s 9th Civil Support Team wears a radiation detection and monitoring backpack and carries a chemical agent detector while conducting a weapons of mass destruction sweep on the Huntington Beach Pier, Oct. 21, 2018, to start the final day of the Great Pacific Airshow in Huntington Beach, Calif. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Crystal Housman)

OIG: DHS Needs Unified Approach when Purchasing, Using Handheld Chemical ID Devices

The Department of Homeland Security does not have a unified approach to procuring and using handheld chemical identification devices across components, the Office of Inspector General concluded in a new report. DHS components spent about $48.4 million on these devices to meet mission requirements and capability needs. However, each component purchased the equipment separately and did not coordinate common requirements to maximize cost-saving opportunities.

This occurred because DHS components are not required to coordinate common requirements and capability needs for minor acquisitions and procurements, such as chemical identification devices. Further, DHS does not perform item-level spend analyses on its procurement data to identify common products and services for strategic sourcing opportunities.

Solidifying a unified approach across DHS to enhance the security of the homeland remains a top challenge for the Department. Without a joint approach to coordinate the procurement and use of chemical identification devices, DHS components are not meeting objectives included in the Department’s “Unity of Effort” initiative. Additionally, DHS may limit potential savings from strategic sourcing opportunities and also risks greater costs resulting from inefficiency and duplication of effort.

OIG recommended DHS establish a process to coordinate common needs across components and maximize savings from strategic sourcing opportunities. These recommendations, when implemented, should help improve “Unity of Effort” in procuring and using handheld chemical identification devices. DHS concurred with recommendation one but did not concur with recommendation two. OIG considers both recommendations open and unresolved.

Read the OIG report

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