WASHINGTON -- A four-year report card on the Department of Homeland Security shows that it has failed to complete major projects, programs and plans that are needed to protect the nation, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., said Tuesday.
"All in all, [the Government Accountability Office] found that the key underlying themes that have affected the Department's implementation efforts are the lack of strategic planning and management, risk management, information sharing, agency transformation, partnership formation and internal and external coordination," Thompson said.
Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called officials from the department and GAO to a hearing to find out how Homeland Security was measuring up since its creation in 2003.
Thompson also expressed concern over the department's problems with recruiting and retention of senior officials. Earlier this month, Thompson put succession planning at the top of a to-do list for Secretary Michael Chertoff to finish before he left office.
The head of GAO, U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker, presented a report that showed DHS had achieved more in its missions than management goals. Overall, the department accomplished 78 of 171 performance expectations defined by GAO.
Homeland Security still faces problems of unifying the operations of its agencies, strategic planning, risk management and information sharing, GAO said. However, the report also noted that DHS has had to carry out its missions, particularly responses to hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, while simultaneously handling a major reorganization of a cabinet-level governmental entity. Such reorganizations take five to seven years.
Paul A. Schneider, under secretary for management, emphasized the department's accomplishments in transportation security, border security, disaster preparedness, and management. He said that Homeland Security objected to the methodology used to compute its scorecard.
Thompson noted that Schneider had been sent to testify even though he has been with the department only nine months.
"It should be noted that the Committee sought the attendance of Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson?who is responsible for managing the Department's day-today operations," Thompson said.