The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must improve its component acquisition oversight, acquisition workforce, and program data collection and reporting, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report said.

The Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office within DHS have all implemented a process to nominate Component Acquisition Executives (CAE), but four of the five individuals filling the CAE role in the Management Directorate have not been subject to that process, the government watchdog agency said.

“DHS indicated that the direct reporting relationship of acting CAEs to the DHS Chief Acquisition Officer makes designating CAEs in the Management Directorate through this process unnecessary,” GAO said. “Without using the nomination and designation process, DHS officials lack a standard way to gain insight into the background of the acting CAEs and whether any gaps in experience need to be mitigated.”

GAO made four recommendations, all which DHS agreed to:

  1. Ensure the Office of Program Accountability and Risk Management and component heads execute the CAE nomination process consistently;
  2. Ensure CAEs that are responsible for oversight of acquisition programs comply with DHS direction to complete CAE support staffing plans;
  3. Identify expertise that constitutes critical acquisition positions for effective CAE oversight; and
  4. Direct the Office of Program Accountability and Risk Management to establish a time frame for completing its assessment of the Investment Evaluation, Submission, and Tracking system data fields for which the CAE certification is necessary.

“Until DHS consistently executes the nomination and designation process described in its guidance, the Chief Acquisition Officer cannot be assured that all acquisition programs are receiving oversight by individuals qualified for the CAE position,” GAO said.

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