The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has flagged several ongoing IT management issues at the agency as part of its annual report of major management and performance challenges facing DHS.

The OIG report – which is based on audits, inspections, evaluations, special reviews, and investigations – identified major management and performance challenges facing DHS as:

  • Ensure essential mission operations are supported by IT;
  • Perform fully and effectively during the coronavirus pandemic;
  • Counter terrorism and homeland security threats;
  • Ensure proper financial management;
  • Improve the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s contracts and grants management, disaster assistance, and fraud prevention; and
  • Strengthen oversight and management of major systems acquisition.

“Meeting these challenges requires unity of effort, a commitment to mastering management fundamentals, and the identification and allocation of appropriate resources,” the report said. “As we have noted in previous Major Management and Performance Challenges reports, many of the Department’s senior leadership positions still do not have permanent, Presidentially Appointed and Senate confirmed officials.”

The IT management challenges cross all 22 of the department’s components, OIG said, and dealing with them is necessary for completing all six goals in DHS’ fiscal year 2020-2024 Strategic Plan.

OIG found that DHS “faces ongoing challenges ensuring IT systems and infrastructure adequately support department personnel,” and pointed out that DHS did not have the IT system functionality to accurately track separated migrant families and reunify them.

Additionally, DHS’ information security program was found to be “not effective for FY 2019” due to it earning a maturity rating of “ad hoc” (level 1) in three of five functions for the OIG’s FY 2019 Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) evaluation, and OIG said the agency must improve these functions going forward.

“Risks to the Nation’s systems and networks continue to increase as security threats evolve and become more sophisticated. As such, the cyber threat information DHS provides to Federal agencies and private sector entities must be actionable to help better manage this growing threat,” the report also said. “However, the Department still faces challenges to improving the quality of cyber threat information it shares across Federal and private sector entities,” the report said.

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