Today’s hearing is focused on the ongoing need to improve management integration in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on that issue released today.
The federal government embarked on one of the most sweeping reorganizations in its history by establishing the Department of Homeland Security. While I believe that DHS has improved the coordination of security efforts between the 22 agencies and offices that now form the Department, it has not yet developed as an integrated and well-managed Department. This hinders its ability to achieve its mission.
The Government Accountability Office placed the transformation of DHS on its High-Risk List in 2003 when it was created. It was clear early on that such a large reorganization of government warranted close oversight. Unfortunately, the management directorate and component management chiefs remain unable to effectively support the Department’s day-to-day operations. The Inspector General’s most recent yearly assessment shows continuing problems in the functional management areas of acquisitions, information technology, grants, and financial management.
As highlighted by the GAO report released here today, one cause of these management problems is the lagging integration of departmental management. GAO has noted that the successful transformation of an organization, even one less complex than DHS, could take from five to seven years. We are quickly approaching that seven year mark, which will be this March.
To be successful, the Department will need to set clear department-wide goals, and create performance measures to analyze its progress. DHS, like other agencies, needs a comprehensive strategic plan for management integration. It is also important that DHS require clear accountability from its leaders.
In 2007, the Department implemented dual-accountability, which means that component management chiefs are required to report both to headquarters and component leadership. In a previous hearing, this Subcommittee examined dual-accountability in the area of acquisition management. I am still concerned that this model does not create clear accountability for management and integration.
I do, however, want to commend the leadership of the Undersecretary for Management (USM), Ms. Elaine Duke, who joins us today, for her work in making management a priority at the Department and for staying on until a successor is confirmed. As GAO found, the USM and her chiefs have taken steps to ensure better coordination, for example making coordination a component of performance reviews.
I believe that the USM, who is the Department’s chief management officer, is critical in implementing management integration across the Department. That is why I am working with Senator Voinovich on the Effective Homeland Security Management Act (S. 872), which would elevate this position to the level of Deputy Secretary with a fixed term. This will help ensure that DHS places sustained, high-level attention on effective management.
Able and integrated management will have an enormous and overarching impact on the future success of the Department. Additional progress in these areas will increase the effectiveness and confidence in DHS’s ability to achieve its mission.