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Dissemination of Guidance
Relating to Operational
Activities

· Information technology systems, and

The lack of program guidance has adversely impacted ICE's ability to efficiently and effectively perform its mission. In May 2004, we reported that ICE had not provided its deportation officers with guidance on how to prioritize their caseload of aliens who required supervision after release from detention. Consequently, ICE was unable to determine whether and to what extent such aliens had met the conditions of their release. We recommended that ICE develop and disseminate guidance to enable deportation officers to prioritize ICE's caseload of aliens on orders of supervision so that ICE could focus its limited resources on supervising aliens who may be a threat to the community or who are not likely to comply with the conditions of their release.

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Communication and
Coordination

Information Technology
Systems

Shortfalls in communications about administrative support services were
also a source of frustration in DHS. In October 2004, we reported that DHS
was in the process of developing and implementing systems and processes
called "shared services." In December 2003, DHS instituted a shared
service system in which certain mission support services-such as human
resources are provided by one bureau to the other bureaus. However,
there were weaknesses in how the shared services program was
communicated to employees. Officials in CBP, CIS, and ICE expressed
confusion about shared services when we interviewed them 3 to 4 months
after the system was instituted. Many field officials said they did not know
what constituted shared services, what processes they should have been
using for receiving assistance from a shared service provider, or how many
of their staff administrative positions would be reassigned to positions in
other offices as shared service providers.

Further, CBP, CIS, and ICE officials also expressed frustration with
problems they have encountered coordinating their administrative systems
managed within the agency and not a part of shared services, including
travel, budget, and payroll. Some ICE field officials also expressed
concern about their ability to manage their budgets and payroll problems,
because of the systems used for these functions.

Information technology systems and information sharing in general are also an area of concern. For example, ICE did not have information that provides assurance that its custody reviews are timely and its custody determinations are consistent with the Supreme Court decision and implementing regulations regarding long term alien detention. One reason ICE had difficulty providing assurance is that it lacked complete, accurate, and readily available information to provide to deportation officers when post order custody reviews are due for eligible aliens. In addition, ICE did not have the capability to record information on how many post order custody reviews had been made pursuant to regulations and what decisions resulted from those reviews. Therefore, ICE managers could not gauge overall compliance with the regulations for aliens who have been

Until 2001, aliens who were issued final orders of removal from the United States could be held in detention facilities indefinitely if US immigration authorities determined that the aliens were a threat to the community or a flight risk. However, US Supreme Court decision in Zadrydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678 (2001), inany aliens with final orders of reinoval, including aliens determined to be a threat to the community or flight risk, could generally no longer be detained beyond a period of 6 months if there was no significant likelihood of their removal in the reasonably foreseeable future.

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ordered to be removed from the United States. Although ICE was in the process of updating its case management system, ICE officials said that they did not know when the system will have the capability to capture information about the timeliness and results of post order custody reviews. In 2005, we designated information sharing mechanisms for homeland security as a high-risk issue, based on root causes behind vulnerabilities, as well as actions needed on the part of the agency involved."

Broader DHS
Transformation and
Management Integration
Efforts May Affect ICE and
CBP Management
Challenges

In addition to considering developing a management framework and corresponding systems and processes, it is important to consider these changes in the larger context of the transformation of DHS. We designated DHS's transformation as a high-risk area in 2003, based on three factors. First, DHS faced enormous challenges in implementing an effective transformation process, developing partnerships, and building management capacity because it had to transform 22 agencies into one department. Second, DHS faced a broad array of operational and management challenges that it inherited from its component legacy agencies. Finally, DHS's failure to effectively address its management challenges and program risks could have serious consequences for our national security. Overall, DHS has made some progress, but significant management challenges remain to transform DHS into a more efficient organization while maintaining and improving its effectiveness in securing the homeland."

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Assistant Secretary levels. The recent turnover in DHS's top leadership raises questions about the department's ability to provide the consistent and sustained senior leadership necessary to achieve integration over the long term.

Monitoring transformation and integration: DHS's integration of varied management processes, systems, and people—in areas such as information technology, financial management, procurement, and human capital-as well as administrative services is important to provide support for the total integration of the department. Total integration of the department, including its operations and programs, is critical to ultimately meeting its mission of protecting the homeland. Overall, we found that while DHS has made some progress in its management integration efforts, it has the opportunity to better leverage this progress by implementing a comprehensive and sustained approach to its overall integration efforts."

Improving strategic planning: DHS released its first strategic plan in 2004 that details its mission and strategic goals. DHS's strategic plan addresses five of the six GPRA-required elements—a mission

statement, long-term goals, strategies to achieve the goals, external key factors, and program evaluations-but does not describe the relationship between annual and long-term goals."

Managing human capital: DHS has been given significant authority to design a new human capital system free from many of the government's existing civil service requirements, and has issued final regulations for this new system. Although we reported the department's efforts generally reflected important elements of effective transformations and included many principles that are consistent with proven approaches to strategic human capital management, DHS has

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considerable work ahead to define the details of the implementation of the system.

Strengthening financial management infrastructure: DHS faces significant financial management challenges. Specifically, it must address numerous internal control weaknesses, meet the mandates of the DHS Financial Accountability Act," and integrate and m financial management systems, which individually have pro collectively are not compatible with one another. In July 200

reported that DHS continues to work to reduce the number of financial management service providers and to acquire and deploy an integrated financial enterprise solution.

Establishing an information technology framework: DHS has recognized the need for a strategic management framework that addresses key information technology disciplines, and has made a significant effort to make improvements in each of these disciplines. However, much remains to be accomplished before it will have fully established a department-wide information technology management framework. To fully develop and institutionalize the management framework, DHS will need to strengthen strategic planning, develop the enterprise architecture, improve management of systems development and acquisition, and strengthen security."

"GAO, Human Capital Preliminary Observations on Final Department of Homeland Security Human Capital Regulations, GAO 68-320T (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 10, 2005). For more information on DHS's human capital issues, see GAO, Human Capital: Preliminary Observations on Proposed DHS Human Capital Regulations, GAO-04-479T (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 26, 2003), Posthearing Questions Related to Proposed Department of Homeland Serarity (DHS) Human Capital Regulations, GAO-04-570R (Washington, DC Mar 22, 2004), Additional Posthearing Questions Related to Proposed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Human Capital Regulations, GAO 04 6178 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 90, 2004); Human Capital: DIIS Faces Challenges in Implementing Its New Personnel System, GAO-04 790 (Washington, D.C.. June 18, 2004), and Human Capital: DIIS Personnel System Design Effort Provides for Collaboration and Employee Participation, GAO-00-1099 (Washington, D.C.. Sept. 30, 2003).

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