New GAO Report Finds Weaknesses with DHS’s Effort to Upgrade Key Border Enforcement System

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) highlighted a new report from the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) entitled, Border Security: DHS’s Efforts to Modernize Key Enforcement Systems Could be Strengthened”, that found significant problems with the management of upgrades to TECS, a key border enforcement information technology system used by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as well as other federal, state, and local agencies.  According to GAO, “After spending millions of dollars and over four years on TECS modernization, it is unclear when it will be delivered and at what cost.” DHS’s failure to manage this program has led to millions of dollars in wasted taxpayer funds, and leaves the department at risk for having to pay increasing costs of up to $40-$60 million per year to maintain the existing system if the modernization effort isn’t completed on time, while those on the front lines continue to lack much-needed improvements to better defend and secure our borders.  

“Today’s GAO report provides another illustration of how DHS spends more taxpayer dollars and gets less for the American people,” Dr. Coburn said.  “The failure of DHS to effectively manage modernization of the TECS system in a timely and fiscally responsible manner calls into question the Department’s ability to deliver needed capabilities to the front lines on time and on budget.  The Department’s decision to pursue two separate programs to upgrade components of the same IT system has led to unneeded duplication and overhead costs and uneven performance. While CBP has succeeded in deploying some new functionality, the GAO report details how, after spending $19 million on its separate program, ICE now plans to scrap its effort and start over.  GAO found evidence that DHS, as well as both CBP and ICE have begun to implement important best practices to oversee major programs. While I commend DHS for those actions, this report shows that the Department has significant work to do in order to translate them into results.  Because both programs face cost, schedule and performance risks, it is imperative that DHS take necessary steps to define key requirements, identify and manage risks, and ensure that program data are accurate to reduce delays and manage costs.  I will continue to work with DHS and the committee on conducting oversight of the TECS program to ensure it is managed properly so that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely to enhance border security.” 

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