US Government Accountability Office GAO

1 Unplanned resource changes and the lack of involvement from management
Low level of human resources information technology

DHS has made very little progress in delivering planned HRIT capabilities, such as end-to-end hiring and payroll action processing. While the vast majority of HRIT capabilities (called strategic improvement opportunities) were to be delivered by June 2015, only 1 has been fully implemented, and the completion dates for the other 14 are currently unknown. These delays are largely due to unplanned resource changes and the lack of involvement from the executive oversight committee. In addition, the department did not effectively manage the investment. For example, DHS did not update or maintain the HRIT schedule, have a life-cycle cost estimate, or track all associated costs. Moreover, the strategic planning document-referred to as the Human Capital Segment Architecture Blueprint-has not been updated in approximately 4.5 years and, as a result, the department does not know whether it is reflective of current priorities and goals. As a result of DHS's ineffective management and limited progress in implementing this investment, the department is unaware of when critical weaknesses in the department's human capital environment will be addressed, which is, among other things, impacting DHS's ability to reduce duplication and carry out its mission.


Since the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created in 2002 and merged 22 agencies into one department with eight components, its human resources environment has included fragmented systems, duplicative and paper-based processes, and little uniformity of data management practices. According to DHS, these issues are compromising the department's ability to effectively and efficiently carry out its mission to, among other things, enhance security and respond to disasters.

DHS's mission is to lead the unified national effort to secure America by preventing and deterring terrorist attacks and protecting against and responding to threats and hazards to the nation, among other things.


GAO's objectives were to (1) evaluate the progress the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made in implementing the Human Resources Information Technology (HRIT) investment and how effectively DHS has managed the investment since completing the Human Capital Segment Architecture in August 2011, (2) describe whether DHS has justified its investment in the Performance and Learning Management System (PALMS) program, (3) determine whether PALMS is being implemented enterprise-wide, and (4) evaluate the extent to which PALMS is implementing selected information technology (IT) acquisition best practices.

The items above were selected and named by the e-Government Subgroup of the EUROSAI IT Working Group on the basis of publicly available report of the author Supreme Audit Institutions (SAI). In the same way, the Subgroup prepared the analytical assumptions and headings. All readers are encouraged to consult the original texts by the author SAIs (linked).