Audit: Homeland Security Faces ‘Major’ Performance Issues

Agency gave pre-check to felons, doesn’t know if bomb-detecting machines work

November 18, 2015

The Department of Homeland Security has "major management and performance challenges" with border security, transportation security, and cybersecurity, according to a new audit.

The agency’s inspector general reported a long list of failures by the agency over the past year. Among them, not knowing whether bomb-detecting machines are "operational" at airports, granting expedited screening status to a felon and a former member of a domestic terrorist group, and hiring 73 individuals with "possible terrorism-related category codes."

"This year, we have identified nine areas representing major challenges the Department must address and ultimately overcome if it is to better accomplish its mission," the inspector general said in the audit released last week. "Within each area, we have observed challenges in coordinating people, processes, and technology."

"Specifically, the Department faces challenges in ensuring strong management practices and effective oversight; implementing and enforcing consistent, clear guidance; tracking and collecting data that can be used to make effective decisions; and deploying technology that meets mission needs," they said.

In the area of border security, the report noted that Customs and Border Protection does not count individuals as repeat offenders if they cross the border illegally in separate fiscal years.

The inspector general said the agency is "not fully and accurately measuring" Streamline, a program to criminally prosecute individuals who illegally enter the United States through defined geographic regions.

"CBP measures Streamline’s effect on re-entry using year-to-year data to analyze re-entry trends; it does not measure an alien’s border crossing history, re-entry, or re-apprehension over multiple years," the audit said. "In other words, an alien who attempts to cross the border at the end of a fiscal year and makes a second attempt at the beginning of the next fiscal year would not be considered a recidivist."

The inspector general said the agency apprehends more than 1,000 individuals each day for suspected violations of U.S. immigration laws and said the estimated 11.5 million illegal aliens in the country includes people who "may pose a risk to public safety or national security."

The audit also reported that the agency needs "better oversight, training, formal policies and processes, controls, and contingency planning" over cybersecurity and infrastructure protection.

Published under: DHS