In a report providing an update on priority open recommendations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the agency outlined 38 priority open recommendations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and highlighted two additional recommendations regarding domestic intelligence and information sharing.

The 40 recommendations were identified by GAO in August 2021, with the two additional recommendations detailed in the new report the result of “GAO’s August 2021 report on DHS’ special event designations as related to the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021.”

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In terms of information sharing, GAO “recommended that DHS update its policy to clarify and communicate the process for requesting a NSSE (National Special Security Events) designation for an event held on Federal property in Washington, D.C., to all relevant stakeholders, including relevant Federal and local entities.”

DHS did not concur with the recommendation and disagreed that the information sharing process needed clarification. However, GAO found that there is confusion among stakeholders as to who initiates the NSSE designation request on Federal property. For example, D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency didn’t think District Government had the authority to make an NSSE designation request.

“As noted in our report, there is a gap in DHS’s policy and in the awareness of relevant partners regarding the process,” GAO wrote. “Our recommendation is to clarify and communicate the policy, recognizing that it is important to both establish in policy who can request an NSSE designation for events on Federal property in Washington D.C. and to make sure those entities have a clear understanding of the process.”

GAO also recommended that DHS consider if additional factors are needed to designate NSSE. DHS did not concur with this recommendation either and said, “they evaluate the context, current environment, and emerging threats when determining whether to designate an event an NSSE.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.