Today, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management, following a majority staff investigation, issued an investigative report identifying serious shortcomings in the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) acquisition and contracting practices. The investigation, which identified poorly managed programs resulting in homeland security capabilities being delivered late, costing more, and doing less than expected, found that these shortcomings have wasted taxpayer dollars and had a serious impact on homeland security efforts.
The investigation found, as the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has previously, that DHS has not always:
· reviewed its major investments at key phases in the acquisition lifecycle;
· employed reliable cost and schedule estimating practices; or
· used effective requirements development and test management practices.
DHS and its component agencies manage a portfolio of major acquisition programs valued at more than $150 billion (in total lifecycle costs, which are the total costs of acquiring capabilities).
The investigative report, entitled "Initiatives Needed to Correct Weaknesses in the Department of Homeland Security's Acquisition and Contracting Policies," highlighted the poor acquisition management involved in DHS's Secure Border Initiative Network (SBI-Net), TSA's explosive trace portals, and DHS's purchase and storage of much more steel than needed for construction of fencing on the Southwest border, among other examples.
The report offers five solutions to help ensure sound acquisition programs in the future:
· formalize a Department-wide process to prevent duplicative procurement by leveraging existing technologies that can meet needs within DHS and throughout the Federal government;
· require all DHS components to more effectively use strategic sourcing to improve cost savings;
· create a strategy for improving the quality and capabilities of the DHS acquisition workforce;
· develop and strengthen a long-term, transparent, and codified acquisitions process that integrates the S&T Directorate, the end user, and the technology developer, to ensure all acquisitions are made with the goals and requirements necessary to deliver a timely and quality product that meaningfully buys down risk; and
· continuously assess the risk of using contractors for services as a part of the acquisition-planning process, and develop a culture of multi-year strategic planning for long-term development contracts to reduce that risk.
McCaul said: "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) manages a portfolio of major acquisition programs that represent more than $150 billion in total costs. Although DHS issued a policy containing elements of acquisition best practices, it neglected to hold programs accountable to that policy. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported in May 2012 this neglect occurred on a routine basis with the programs it reviewed. In other cases, such as TSA's Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) known as "whole body scanners," DHS allowed programs to move forward without the information needed to make those decisions. In the case of AIT, these poor decisions resulted in the deployment of machines that could not meet initial requirements which the Department had identified as necessary to protect the aviation system. DHS's shortcomings in managing its acquisition programs have wasted taxpayer dollars and had a serious impact on our ability to protect the Homeland. Our report identifies solutions to some of these issues. Without the Department's sustained leadership and effective implementation, I fear we will continue to see waste of taxpayer dollars and inefficiencies that affect the ability of DHS to protect the Homeland."