WASHINGTON, D.C.  – The Government Accountability Office testified Thursday before a House subcommittee about problems with the financial management system overhaul taking place within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The DHS, the largest civilian department in the federal government, was created in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America. As a part of its evolution, it is implementing a new financial management system, called the Transformation and Systems Consolidation (TASC) program.

The GAO, an independent investigative agency of the federal government, found that the Department still “lacks a clear strategy to successfully consolidate its existing disparate systems.”

Senator Susan Collins, R-Me., said she was dismayed by the testimony and recent findings.

“I have raised concerns before about the missteps at DHS as it moves forward with TASC,” she said. “The current estimated price tag on this project is $450 million, but DHS’ own IG has projected that the ultimate cost could exceed $1 billion. And, effective planning and implementation of this system is necessary because DHS, in an earlier flawed initiative, spent $52 million to pursue the same financial management consolidation with no measureable results.

“Unfortunately, this new reporting by the Government Accountability Office is not welcome news. It found that the DHS lacks a clear strategy and comprehensive plan to implement TASC. Furthermore, the GAO in 2007 made six recommendations to DHS regarding the replacement of existing financial management systems. To date, none has been fully implemented and only four have received limited action. That is very disheartening. Continuing the consolidation of the department’s various components is critical, but we need to get this right. We need to learn from the errors of the past, not repeat them.”

The GAO also noted that during its review, “two issues surfaced that pose unnecessary risks to the TASC program.”

The issues were the Department’s “significant reliance on contractors to define and implement the TASC solution and the independence of the contractor hired to perform the verification and validation function for TASC.”

Additionally, GAO states “the extent of DHS’ reliance on contracts to define and implement the TASC program, without the necessary oversight mechanisms to minimize risks associated with contractor-developed documents, could result in performance and management problems with its system efforts.”