Many of the acquisitions undertaken by the Department of Homeland Security have suffered increased costs and schedule delays, according to a Government Accountability Office report.
Since its inception in 2003, the department has made complex acquisitions to support its mission including securing U.S. borders, mitigating natural disasters, and investigating security threats. The cost of these undertakings has grown over time - from $8.5 billion in fiscal 2004 to $14.2 billion in fiscal 2009, the report says. Comparing initial and current estimates for 15 major acquisitions, GAO found 12 had cost estimate increases ranging from 5 percent to 564 percent. The department also lengthened the time expected for each project to be completed, with time estimates stretched by eight months to as far as more than five years.
According to the report, officials at the department deemed inaccurate and incomplete cost estimates as the likely reason for the cost growth. "The responsible officials have raised concerns that many programs used cost estimation methods that did not follow established best practices, such as fully defining program requirements, accounting for sustainment costs, and including costs for the full life cycle of a program," Dodaro said. "As a result, officials have doubts about the credibility, comprehensiveness, and accuracy of most program cost estimates."
Department of Homeland Security officials told GAO that the department is taking steps to address these issues, including securing independent cost estimates for certain high-risk programs. It also assigned cost analysis specialists in selected program components. Other factors included changes in program scope and requirements and development of initial cost estimates after acquisition activities started, GAO said.
For a copy of the report: