DHS should better track its R&D projects, auditor says

The Department of Homeland Security has made strides in coordinating its research and development efforts but it needs to do better in tracking and evaluating projects, says a report by the Government Accountability Office.

The Homeland Security Act tasks the Science and Technology Directorate with coordinating all R&D activities across DHS, while also funding R&D projects. GAO has raised questions over the years whether S&T has the ability to demonstrate the impact of its R&D investments.

For example, DHS set up an Integrated Product Team process to serve as the R&D coordination mechanism within the department. All 10 DHS components GAO interviewed agreed the process allowed better visibility into DHS R&D efforts. However, not all of the components took part in the IPT process in 2018.

GAO also found that DHS’ R&D project information is stored in many disparate sources, which makes it hard to identify and track. By developing a method to align these sources, S&T would be able to better compile and analyze R&D project information, the watchdog said.

GAO recommended DHS ensure all its components comply with IPT participation requirements and better align processes and information sources for collecting R&D project data. The department should also develop standard processes and procedures for collecting and analyzing customer feedback. Additionally, S&T, specifically, should move to fully incorporate better practices into R&D milestones.

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