DHS needs to get better control over its IT spending, Congress warned

According to the report, Information
Technology: Homeland Security Should Better Balance Need for System
Integration Strategy with Spending for New and Enhanced Systems, DHS
does not have authority and control over department-wide IT spending,
even though “such control is important for effective systems
integration,” as typified by successful IT management at private and
public-sector organizations and some federal agencies.

“Until [DHS’s] IT strategic framework is
fully defined and effectively implemented, DHS runsthe risk that the
component agencies’ ongoing investments — collectively costing billions
of dollars in fiscal year 2004 — will need to be reworked in the
future, so that they can be effectively integrated and provide maximum
value across DHS,” GAO concluded.

Nevertheless, DHS is moving forward to
finalize and implement an IT strategic plan, enterprise architecture
and IT capital planning and investment control processes.

GAO auditors told lawmakers the longer DHS’s
component organizations continue to invest in systems without an
effectively implemented framework, the greater the risk that these
component systems will later require costly rework to integrate.

“In the interim, DHS and its components have
taken steps intended to promote the alignment of its components’
ongoing and planned IT investments with the department’s strategic
direction,” GAO reported.

Steven Cooper, DHS’s CIO, told GAO auditors
that the limited progress on the systems integration framework was due
to insufficient staffing; higher priority demands (such as establishing
a department-wide e-mail system); and near-term, high-payoff
opportunities (such as consolidating wireless communication
capabilities). HST

The entire report is available in PDF format at: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/ d04509.pdf.

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