Thursday, September 06, 2007

Homeland Security Gets Bad GAO Review

If Katrina wasn't a big enough hint about DHS, a new report makes it official. (Click to enlarge chart.)

Hobbled by inadequate funding, unclear priorities, continuing reorganizations and the absence of an overarching strategy, the Department of Homeland Security is failing to achieve its mission of preventing and responding to terrorist attacks or natural disasters, according to a comprehensive report by the Government Accountability Office.

The highly critical report disputes recent upbeat assessments by the Bush administration by concluding that the DHS has failed to make even moderate progress toward eight of 14 internal government benchmarks more than four years after its creation. ...

Analysts from across the political spectrum have complained that the DHS has spent $241 billion over four years without performing a disciplined analysis of threats and implications.

The GAO report is the most exhaustive and independent look at the department since its creation, drawing on more than 400 earlier reviews and 700 recommendations by congressional investigators and the department's inspector general, as well as the goals set by the Sept.11 commission, the Century Foundation, congressional legislation and spending bills, and the administration's own plans and internal strategic documents, such as the White House's National Strategy for Homeland Security from July 2002. ...

The DHS met only five of 24 criteria for emergency preparedness, failing to implement a national response plan or develop a program to improve emergency radio communications. The department met just one of six science and technology goals, such as developing research and development plans and assessing emerging threats; and two of 15 computer integration targets, the report says.

Moderate progress, which the GAO defined as taking action on more than half of identified goals, was made in only five of 14 areas -- immigration enforcement; aviation, land and transportation security; securing critical facilities such as bridges, power plants and computer networks; and property management -- and substantial progress in just one, maritime and port security.

Department of Homeland Security: Progress Report on Implementation of Mission and Management Functions (328-page PDF)

Department of Homeland Security: Progress Report on Implementation of Mission and Management Functions -- Comptroller's Statement for Congress (32-page PDF)

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