Text: S.Hrg. 114-632 — U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY MANAGEMENT AND ACQUISITION REFORM
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[Senate Hearing 114-632]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
S. Hrg. 114-632
DHS MANAGEMENT AND ACQUISITION REFORM
HOMELAND SECURITY AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED FOURTEENTH CONGRESS
MARCH 16, 2016
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COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS
RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin Chairman
JOHN McCAIN, Arizona THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware
ROB PORTMAN, Ohio CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri
RAND PAUL, Kentucky JON TESTER, Montana
JAMES LANKFORD, Oklahoma TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
MICHAEL B. ENZI, Wyoming HEIDI HEITKAMP, North Dakota
KELLY AYOTTE, New Hampshire CORY A. BOOKER, New Jersey
JONI ERNST, Iowa GARY C. PETERS, Michigan
BEN SASSE, Nebraska
Christopher R. Hixon, Staff Director
David S. Luckey, Director of Homeland Security
Jeffrey A. Fiore, U.S. Government Accountability Office Detailee
Gabrielle A. Batkin, Minority Staff Director
John P. Kilvington, Minority Deputy Staff Director
Stephen R. Vina, Minority Chief Counsel for Homeland Security
Marian P. Gibson, Minority U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Timothy D. McCrosson, Minority Office of Management and Budget Detailee
Laura W. Kilbride, Chief Clerk
Benjamin C. Grazda, Hearing Clerk
C O N T E N T S
Senator Johnson.............................................. 1
Senator Carper............................................... 2
Senator Lankford............................................. 20
Senator Johnson.............................................. 25
Senator Carper............................................... 26
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Hon. Russell C. Deyo, Under Secretary for Management, U.S.
Department of Homeland Security................................ 4
Hon. Charles H. Fulghum, Deputy Under Secretary for Management
and Chief Financial Officer, U.S. Department of Homeland
Hon. John Roth, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Homeland
Rebecca Gambler, Director, Homeland Security and Justice, U.S.
Government Accountability Office............................... 10
Michele Mackin, Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management,
U.S. Government Accountability Office.......................... 12
Alphabetical List of Witnesses
Deyo, Hon. Russell C.:
Joint prepared statement..................................... 28
Fulghum, Hon. Charles H.:
Joint prepared statement..................................... 28
Joint prepared statement..................................... 56
Joint prepared statement..................................... 56
Roth, Hon. John:
Prepared statement........................................... 40
Responses to post-hearing questions for the Record from:
Mr. Deyo and Mr. Fulghum..................................... 82
Mr. Roth..................................................... 104
Ms. Gambler and Ms. Mackin................................... 107
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY MANAGEMENT AND ACQUISITION REFORM
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16, 2016
Committee on Homeland Security
and Governmental Affairs,
The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:00 p.m., in
room SD-342, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. Ron Johnson,
Chairman of the Committee, presiding.
Present: Senators Johnson, Lankford, Ayotte, Ernst, Sasse,
Carper, Booker, and Peters.
OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN JOHNSON
Chairman Johnson. This hearing will come to order.
I want to thank all of our witnesses for appearing before
us today, for your thoughtful testimony, and for your time here
Unfortunately, I am going to have to leave at a little bit
before 3:00. We will probably turn it over to the capable hands
of my Ranking Member here.
Senator Carper. I object. [Laughter.]
Chairman Johnson. Well, then we have a problem.
Senator Carper. OK. I do not object.
Chairman Johnson. This is an important hearing. We have
been working on this project for about a year in a bicameral,
and I think, a very bipartisan way. We have been working with
the House Committee on Homeland Security, this Committee, the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Government
Accountability Office (GAO) really trying to address many of
the problems that GAO has recognized in its ``High-Risk List,''
trying to authorize and put into statute the types of
management reforms that the good folks, the dedicated people,
at the Department of Homeland Security are trying to implement
to pass on a stronger Department to the next Administration--
which we really appreciate that. So, I do not want to take a
whole lot of time in my opening statement. I just want to
really encourage that process, in terms of DHS management and
The difference with what we do here in the Senate is--the
House passed a bill with that combined into one bill. I think,
just recognizing there may be some issues, we decided to
separate those 2 into 2 different bills. So, again, we are all
about getting results here, in this Committee, trying to find
areas of agreement.
I do have to note--because yesterday we did hold a hearing
where we talked about potential problems, in our visa programs,
and, during that hearing, I did ask questions about a pretty
troubling incident that occurred at the San Bernardino United
States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office, and
I asked Director Sarah Saldana and Director Leon Rodriguez
Last night, we learned, shortly after the hearing, that the
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) supervisors are
seeking information about who provided that information to
Congress. I am very concerned that ICE's management is seeking
out those individuals in order to retaliate, or otherwise
punish them, for providing information to Congress. So, I want
to make it very clear, today, that our Committee will be
monitoring this situation very carefully.
The Federal Government has a very poor record of
retaliation. We have held numerous hearings about this, and it
is really quite shocking how often the Federal Government
retaliates. But, I certainly will not stand for--and I do not
think this Committee will stand for--any retribution against
those who had the courage to come forward to reveal this
Federal law expressly protects Federal employees' rights to
furnish information to Congress--and any form of retaliation
against Federal employees for furnishing information to
Congress will not--and should not--be tolerated.
So, this afternoon, I will be sending a letter to Homeland
Security Secretary Jeh Johnson about this matter and asking him
to direct all DHS managers and employees to follow Federal law
regarding whistleblower protection. And, Inspector General (IG)
John Roth, I will also be sending a letter to you about this
matter, formally requesting that you investigate the San
With that, I will turn it over to my Ranking Member,
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR CARPER
Senator Carper. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to welcome back Under Secretary Russ Deyo, whom we
have not seen for almost 24 hours--actually, a little bit
longer than that--Deputy Under Secretary Chip Fulghum, John
Roth, our DHS Inspector General, who I think we did see 24
hours ago, and GAO Directors Rebecca Gambler and Michele
Mackin. It is nice to see you all. And, thank you, Mr.
Chairman, for calling this important hearing, and to each of
you for being here and for helping to guide us and for sharing
your wisdom with us.
As the Chairman has alluded to, our oversight, on this
Committee, is usually focused on the men and women at the
Department of Homeland Security who are working on the front
lines at our airports, our land borders, and our coasts. But,
backing up the Department's front-line personnel is a dedicated
cadre of professionals in the DHS Management Directorate. The
Management Directorate controls the Department's finances; it
oversees the acquisition of assets and the procurement of
services; it manages the Department's information technology
(IT) backbone; and it makes sure that all employees get the
paychecks--the correct paychecks--as well as the benefits and
salary that they have earned. And, as some of you have heard me
say before--as my colleagues have heard me say before--
management really does matter. It does matter.
Our friends from GAO and the DHS Inspector General have
kept a close eye on the Department's management and acquisition
practices. We are grateful for that. And, as their testimony
indicates, there have been a number of challenges in these
areas since the Department's creation about 13 years ago. And,
the management of the Department, of course, continues to be on
GAO's ``High-Risk List,'' as Secretary Johnson continues his
predecessors' efforts to merge nearly 2 dozen agencies that
were once spread across the entire Federal Government.
Despite the massive undertaking of stitching together so
many agencies with different missions and different cultures,
we have seen a number of management successes at the Department
over the years. We celebrate those. In fact, I was very pleased
to hear--we were very pleased to hear that the Department has
just taken another step toward getting off of the ``High-Risk
List'' by improving the monitoring of its key management
initiatives. And, that is definitely good news--and Secretary
Johnson and his team deserve to be commended--and we commend
But, as the Inspector General has noted before, addressing
the Department's long-term management challenges requires a
commitment to building--and sustaining--I will say that again--
a commitment to building and sustaining a culture that
recognizes the need to act in a more unified, inclusive, and
transparent manner. And, I could not agree more. That is why I
strongly support Secretary Johnson's ``Unity of Effort
Initiative,'' which seeks to create more cohesion and
efficiency across the Department by standing up joint
Last week, Secretary Jeh Johnson sat right here in front of
us and told our Committee that he would like to see his
management initiatives codified in law, so that the
improvements he and his team are making can be sustained and
made even stronger by the next Administration. I think that
makes a lot of sense, and it is why I have joined our Chairman
in cosponsoring two pieces of legislation that would seek to
make permanent many of the management reforms that the
Department has already instituted. In some cases, our
legislation provides new authority or requirements. For
example, the DHS management bill provides headquarters
officials with additional authority that they can use to better
oversee the activities of the components. It would also require
DHS to report to GAO every 6 months on the progress being made
to get off of the ``High-Risk List.''
The second bill focuses on improving the acquisition
processes at the Department. Among other things, this bill
would, for the first time, designate the Under Secretary for
Management as the single leader accountable for all DHS
acquisition programs. It would also vest the Under Secretary
with the statutory authority to halt, to modify, or to cancel
acquisition programs that are struggling or are not deemed to
be viable. And, while I believe these bills provide a solid
foundation for the Department to continue to mature and grow
even stronger, I know they are not perfect. And, when something
is not perfect, we should make it better. And, I look forward
to working with all of our colleagues on further ways to
improve these bills.
In closing, I just want to add I think it is important to
remember that the Department, at the tender age of 13, is still
a young organization--a teenager. And, given this fact, it
needs proper guidance, firm rules, and strong oversight. And,
that is where these bills and this hearing come into place. By
working together, we can help give the Department--enable the
Department, I think, but give them the tools that they need and
the authorities they need to continue to mature and truly
become ``One DHS.''
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you all. Welcome one and
Chairman Johnson. And 13-year-olds can be quite difficult.
Thank you, Senator Carper.
I would ask that my opening statement be entered into the
\1\ The prepared statement of Senator Johnson appears in the
Appendix on page 25.
With that, it is the tradition of this Committee to swear
in witnesses, so if you will all rise and raise your right
hand. Do you swear the testimony you will give before this
Committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but
the truth, so help you, God?
Mr. Deyo. I do.
Mr. Fulghum. I do.
Mr. Roth. I do.
Ms. Gambler. I do.
Ms. Mackin. I do.
Chairman Johnson. Please be seated.
Our first witness is Mr. Russ Deyo. Mr. Deyo is the Under
Secretary for Management at the Department of Homeland
Security. In this position, Mr. Deyo oversees the Department's
management programs, processes, and workforces. Secretary Deyo.
TESTIMONY OF THE HONORABLE RUSSELL C. DEYO,\2\ UNDER SECRETARY
FOR MANAGEMENT, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Mr. Deyo. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to be
here. I appreciate that. It is actually an honor to be here at
this table with the Deputy Under Secretary for Management and
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Chip Fulghum. I could not have a
better partner and leader.
\2\ The joint prepared statement of Hon. Deyo and Hon. Fulghum
appears in the Appendix on page 28.
I am also very pleased with our working relationship with
Inspector General Roth and with GAO, including with Ms. Gambler
and Ms. Mackin. We work at an appropriate arm's length, but
have a good, collaborative relationship--and it is a pleasure
to be here.
Senator Carper. Let the record show that the IG nodded his
head affirmatively. [Laughter.]
Mr. Deyo. Thank you for putting that on the record.
Before I go further, Chairman Johnson, thank you for your
opening comments. I understand your concerns, and I promise you
I will personally follow up on this as well. But, I totally
appreciate and understand your concerns.
I am going to be brief because we are familiar, but I
thought I would try to just, at a high level, set the tone and
the background for what we are seeking to address. The letter
to me, the invitation, asked us to address 3 things: management
and acquisition challenges historically faced by DHS, progress
made in addressing those challenges, and potential reforms for
outstanding challenges. And, I am going to address each of
those very briefly, from my perspective--and my perspective, as
many of you know, is based on my 25 years-plus experience at
Johnson & Johnson, which, like the Department, is a highly
decentralized organization with very different companies under
the broad umbrella of health care. Just as the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is quite different from ICE,
Neutrogena, the consumer skin care company, is very different
from Johnson Pharmaceutical, a research organization. So, I
have experience in trying to find that right balance between
when stand-alone entities can work, independently, but when it
is best for them to work together. And, I have tried to bring
that experience to bear on what I have seen.
As you know, I joined the Department last spring, basically
a year into the Secretary's ``Unity of Effort Initiative,''
which was based on some good work that had gone before, but, in
my judgment, is very close to exactly the right balance between
independence--Coast Guard acting on its own to deal with people
lost at sea, but then, when it is appropriate and necessary,
allowing for strong collaboration across the components to
achieve our critical mission.
The ``Unity of Effort'' addresses a number of critical
areas, as you know, and I will very briefly cover them.
You have to have a strategy. You have to have a forward-
looking strategy that is reflective of the environment and the
changing circumstances. Under ``Unity of Effort,'' the Office
of Policy has that responsibility, working very closely with
the components to come up with a strategy as well as
appropriate policy improvements and high-level operational
Then you need senior groups of the leadership so that they
can be engaged, involved, and have ownership of what is coming.
So, we have the Senior Leadership Council and the Deputy
Secretary's Management Action Group, which are very much
involved in that process.
Importantly, you need to have mission-focused, cross-
component budgeting, programming, and acquisition processes.
And, I know that is heavily a tension today. I think we have
worked hard at improving our acquisition process. A very quick
example is obviously the Joint Requirements Council (JRC),
where you have representatives of each component, led by a
component leader, establishing the requirements. What are the
needs that we are trying to address in this acquisition? What
are the capabilities that we are trying to obtain, so that we
can fulfill our mission responsibilities?
It does not go forward in the acquisition and process until
there is alignment and clear definition there. That is a very
important and huge improvement. And, just to cut a little bit
to the head of the chase, we have had a JRC in the past, and it
was not sustainable. It disappeared. What we are trying to do
here, with the help of your good legislation, is to make sure
these improvements, at all of these aspects, are sustainable
and are in place for the next Administration and beyond.
We also need coordinated operations when the components are
working together, and that is where the Joint Task Forces
(JTFs) and the work they are doing on the Southern Border is a
good example--where components are working together in a common
leadership structure--sharing data, sharing information, and
working together to address very important mission-directed
An area that is directly within my area's responsibility is
coordinated and aligned administrative functions--and you made
reference to this, Ranking Member Carper. We need strong and
common finance processes, strong and common IT processes,
strong and common human resources (HR) processes, and strong
and common procurement processes. We are getting better at that
because of the responsibilities of the chiefs of the lines of
businesses that report to me, the Chief Information Officer
(CIO), the head of human resources, and Mr. Fulghum, working
across the components to come up with common approaches, common
financial systems, and common IT systems--where they are
collectively addressing what needs to be done to improve those
systems, replace outmoded ones, and improve our cybersecurity.
I am seeing it working every day--not that we cannot be better
and not that we do not need increasing experience, but the
alignment and the improvements are palpable.
So, we are working on all fronts to make that better, and
we will continue to improve. So, from my perspective, the
``Unity of Effort'' is a big improvement--the right balance of
independence--and collaboration. And, the legislation that is
being considered--the 2 pieces of legislation--will go a long
way to addressing what is, now, our biggest management issue,
which is making it sustainable.
And, in that regard, I will also note that some added
benefits of the legislation are that it makes accountability
clear, it has great transparency to you and to the American
public, and, as you well know, it adopts and codifies many of
the recommendations from the Inspector General and from GAO
about how we should be operating. And, we embrace that. We
accept that. We accept the accountability. We accept the
recommendations that will make us better at what we are doing.
And, making it sustainable will have a huge benefit for us--a
huge benefit for us, so people do not have to redo, rethink, or
We need more experience. We will get better and better as
we do more of these. We are well underway. Things are working.
But, we just need to make it sustainable, and we will continue
to improve it, as we go forward.
So, unless there are any questions for me at this point, I
would like to turn it over to Mr. Fulghum. I will note this:
Before I arrived at DHS, he was the Acting Under Secretary for
Management. His leadership has made a huge difference under the
``Unity of Effort.'' He started huge improvements with our
approach to appropriations--excuse me, acquisitions----
Senator Carper. How do you say--how huge? Like really huge?
Chairman Johnson. With a ``Y.''
Mr. Deyo. To be candid, we have a great partnership, and I
do not think we would--it is great to have somebody who is
inside and familiar. I bring an outside perspective. We have
very candid conversations. But, I have seen the impact of what
he has done, personally, with his leadership, in getting us
closer to a common financial system, improving our budgeting
process, becoming mission-focused, and working on the
acquisition piece. So, if you agree, I will ask Mr. Fulghum----
Chairman Johnson. Let me introduce him--but, first of all,
thank you, Secretary Deyo. I think we have been very impressed
with your contribution to this as well.
Mr. Deyo. Thank you.
Chairman Johnson. We are really thankful that you were able
to come into government, not a real thank-filled job in many
Mr. Deyo. Not every day.
Chairman Johnson. But, we appreciate your service.
Our next witness is ``Chip'' Fulghum, the Deputy Under
Secretary for Management and Chief Financial Officer at the
Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Fulghum leads several
lines of businesses across the Department, including financial,
human capital, and information technology management. Mr.
TESTIMONY OF THE HONORABLE CHARLES H. FULGHUM,\1\ DEPUTY UNDER
SECRETARY FOR MANAGEMENT AND CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, U.S.
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Mr. Fulghum. Good afternoon, sir. Chairman Johnson and
Ranking Member Carper, thank you for allowing us to be here
today to discuss this important topic. And, thank you to both
the IG and GAO for their continued partnership. I refer to
them--and they have heard me say this before--as our ``personal
trainers.'' We might not like it when we are going through the
exercise, but they make us better and they put us through our
\1\ The joint prepared statement of Hon. Fulghum and Hon. Deyo
appears in the Appendix on page 28.
Senator Carper. That is nicer than some of the things they
have been called. [Laughter.]
Mr. Fulghum. So, when I arrived at the Department in 2012,
I saw many of the same challenges that had been well documented
by GAO, the IG, and the Congress. And, when you look at those
recommendations, they really center around 4 areas, as it
relates to acquisition.
First, is better documentation--and, in some cases, getting
documentation as well as an improved requirements and
definition process. They have recommended that we need focused
oversight from the Department. We need better program managers
that are certified. We need component acquisition executives
that have clear accountability and whose offices are staffed
properly. And, then they have repeatedly talked to us about a
better linkage with science and technology (S&T), research and
development (R&D), as well as test and evaluation.
Over the past 2 years, I believe we have made substantial
progress--and I would like to briefly highlight some of that.
Since 2012, no program has moved forward in the Department
without the required documentation. All programs now have the
required documentation, which includes a life-cycle cost
estimate. As Mr. Deyo said, we have stood up an operator-
focused Joint Requirements Council--and I want to underscore
that--an operator-focused Joint Requirements Council. And, the
first chairman of that Joint Requirements Council was a two-
star admiral operator--to give us the right operational focus
to make sure that we get the requirements right up front.
We have made the tough calls when it comes to programs. We
have canceled programs and we have paused programs, with the
goal--the simple goal--of making sure we get it right--making
sure that we deliver the right capability to the operator.
We have elevated the Component Acquisition Executives
(CAEs) into components, and there is now a clear relationship
between the CAE and the Chief Acquisition Officer (CAO) in the
Department. We have required certification of program managers
and we have addressed staffing shortfalls in various programs.
We have improved our training. I believe the Homeland
Security Acquisition Institute (HSAI) that Soraya Correa runs--
our Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) runs--is an excellent
program. It turns out we train about 8,000 folks a year in
various courses. That is excellent--and we continue to improve
And then, in terms of affordability, we require
certifications now from the CFO in terms--the component CFO,
when every program moves forward at a major milestone, they
have to provide us with an affordability certification for the
next 5 years.
We have moved cost estimating to where I believe it
belongs, which is with the Chief Financial Officer--and we are
continuing to build that capability. And, as I said, now every
program has a life-cycle cost estimate--every major program.
We have better integration with S&T under the leadership of
Mr. Deyo. We continue to build that partnership with S&T
because they are a valued partner, especially at the front end
of an acquisition.
In short, all of these results culminate in years of work
to reform acquisition in the Department--and this bill will
drive us to sustainment. As I believe you said to us the other
day, Senator Johnson, you said, ``OK, here is the bill. Now we
have to see you do it.'' It increases accountability, it
increases transparency, it increases efficiency, and it
codifies the progress we have made. As our Secretary likes to
say, it pours concrete over the hard work that the men and
women in management have done.
So, in short, under the leadership of Mr. Deyo, we have
made huge progress over the last year. I believe we will
continue to make progress. This legislation is important to the
Department because, as I said, it codifies much of the progress
we have made and it holds us accountable to ensure that we
sustain it, which is key to getting off of the ``High-Risk
So, with that, I welcome any questions you have at this
Chairman Johnson. Thank you, Secretary Fulghum.
Our next witness is John Roth. He is the Inspector General
at the Department of Homeland Security. In this position, Mr.
Roth leads the Office of Inspector General's (OIG's)
independent audits, investigations, and inspections of the
programs and operations of DHS. Inspector General Roth.
TESTIMONY OF THE HONORABLE JOHN ROTH,\1\ INSPECTOR GENERAL,
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Mr. Roth. Good afternoon, Chairman Johnson, Ranking Member
Carper, and Members of the Committee. Thank you for inviting me
here to discuss critical management and acquisition functions
\1\ The prepared statement of Hon. Roth appears in the Appendix on
Acquisition management, which is critical to fulfilling the
DHS functions or missions, is inherently complex and high risk.
It is further challenged by the magnitude and the diversity of
the Department's procurements. Since its inception in 2003, the
Department has spent tens of billions of dollars, annually, on
a broad range of assets and services--from ships, to aircraft,
to surveillance towers, to financial, human resource, and
information technology systems. DHS's yearly spending on
contractual services and supplies, along with the acquisition
of assets, exceeds $25 billion. Although the Department has
improved its acquisition processes and taken steps to
strengthen oversight of major acquisition programs, challenges
to cost effectiveness and efficiency remain.
DHS has taken many steps to strengthen department-wide
For example, it has established the Acquisition Life Cycle
Framework--a four-phase process to assure consistent and
efficient operation of acquisition management, support, review,
Second, it created the Office of Program Accountability and
Risk Management (PARM) in 2011. This office oversees the
acquisition work of the Department and its components as well
as enforces DHS policies and procedures.
Third, it established an Acquisition Review Board (ARB),
which determines whether or not the components' acquisitions
meet specific requirements at key phases throughout the
Fourth, DHS established a Joint Requirements Council to
review high-dollar acquisitions and make recommendations to the
Acquisition Review Board on cross-cutting savings
Lastly, it has increased component-level acquisition
capability. For instance, the Department has appointed
component acquisition executives to oversee and support their
respective programs. It has also initiated various training and
information-sharing programs within the components themselves.
Although DHS has made much progress, we do not believe it
has yet achieved the cohesion and sense of community to act as
one entity working towards a common goal. The Department
continues to face challenges establishing and enforcing a
strong central authority and uniform policies and procedures.
Many of DHS's major acquisition programs continue to cost more
than expected, take longer to deploy than planned, and deliver
less capability than promised.
We have analyzed the acquisition failures and have
identified 3 root causes.
First, components do not always follow departmental
acquisition guidance, which may lead to cost overruns, missed
schedules, and mediocre acquisition performance. All of these
have an effect on budget, security, and efficient use of
Second, components often do not engage in appropriate
oversight of their own acquisition process. To protect the
Department's investments, components must properly manage
assets throughout the life cycle. Our reviews of equipment
maintenance contracts, for example, revealed that components
need to improve oversight to ensure contractors provide the
required services and correct maintenance deficiencies.
Lastly, DHS needs better data and acquisition management
tools. Strong management of Department programs requires
accurate and reliable data, clear and well-communicated
guidance, and a collaborative and unified environment. We have
identified cross-cutting programs in which better management,
oversight, and guidance could have improved transparency,
effectiveness, and efficiency.
In the last few years, DHS has initiated significant
reforms to the acquisition process and has exerted significant
leadership to gain control over an unruly and wasteful process.
However, I worry that the significant reforms, if not
continuously enforced over time, could be undone. We believe
that the passage of the 2 bills under consideration by this
Committee, the DHS Headquarters Reform and Improvement Act of
2016 and the DHS Acquisition Reform and Accountability Act of
2016, will help DHS solidify the gains made in the discipline,
accountability, and transparency of acquisition program
management. These bills codify existing policy and relevant
offices, provide the necessary authority for key personnel and
mechanisms within the Department to effectively manage major
acquisition programs, reinforce the importance of key
acquisition management practices--such as establishing cost,
schedule, and capability parameters--and include requirements
to better identify and address poorly performing acquisition
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement. I
welcome any questions that you or Members of the Committee may
Chairman Johnson. Thank you, General Roth.
Our next witness is Rebecca Gambler. Ms. Gambler is the
Director of the Homeland Security and Justice team at the U.S.
Government Accountability Office. Ms. Gambler leads GAO's work
on DHS management and transformation, border security, and
immigration. Director Gambler.
TESTIMONY OF REBECCA GAMBLER,\1\ DIRECTOR, HOMELAND SECURITY
AND JUSTICE, U.S. GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE
Ms. Gambler. Good afternoon, Chairman Johnson, Ranking
Member Carper, and Members of the Committee. I appreciate the
opportunity to testify at today's hearing to discuss GAO's work
on DHS's efforts to strengthen and integrate its management
\1\ The joint prepared statement of Ms. Gambler and Ms. Mackin
appears in the Appendix on page 56.
Since 2003, GAO has issued hundreds of reports addressing
the range of DHS's mission and management functions. And, we
have made about 2,400 recommendations to strengthen the
Department's operations and management, among other things. DHS
has implemented about 70 percent of these recommendations and
has actions underway to address others.
GAO also regularly reports to Congress on government
operations that we have identified as high risk because of
their great vulnerability to fraud, waste, abuse, and
mismanagement--or the need for transformation. In 2003, we
designated implementing and transforming DHS as high risk
because DHS had to transform 22 agencies into one Department--
and the failure to address associated risks could have serious
consequences for U.S. national and economic security. With
DHS's maturation and evolution, we have narrowed the scope of
DHS's high-risk area to focus on strengthening management
functions--and those functions include human capital,
acquisition, financial, and information technology management.
GAO has established 5 criteria for removing areas from our
``High-Risk List.'' Specifically, agencies must have: first, a
strong commitment to, and top leadership support for,
addressing the risks; second, an action plan; third, the
capacity--including people and other resources--to address the
risks; fourth, a program for monitoring progress; and, fifth,
demonstrated progress in implementing corrective actions.
The Department has made progress in meeting our criteria.
In our 2015 update, we found that DHS had met 2 of our
criteria--demonstrating leadership commitment and having an
action plan--and had partially met the other 3 criteria. Since
our 2015 update, DHS has made additional progress and has now
also met the criterion of having a framework to monitor
To help the Department in addressing our high-risk
criteria, GAO and DHS have agreed to 30 actions and outcomes
across DHS's management functions--and a number of these
actions and outcomes are consistent with functions and
responsibilities identified for the Department and its
management chiefs in the proposed legislation on DHS
With regard to the 30 actions and outcomes, DHS has fully,
or mostly, addressed just more than half of them and has
partially addressed, or initiated activities to address, the
For example, within human capital management, DHS has
developed and made progress in implementing a human capital
strategic plan and a workforce planning model. However, DHS has
considerable work ahead to improve employee morale. DHS has
also taken steps to assess its various training programs, but
has faced significant challenges in its efforts to consolidate
its existing learning management systems.
Further, within financial management, DHS has received a
clean audit opinion on its financial statements since fiscal
year (FY) 2013 and has made progress addressing weaknesses in
its internal controls over financial reporting. However, the
remaining material weaknesses reported by auditors continue to
hamper DHS's ability to establish effective control over
financial reporting and comply with financial management system
requirements. My colleague Ms. Mackin will share some more
specific insights related to DHS acquisition management.
As I close, I think it is important to note that DHS has
made progress in addressing those issues that contributed to
its designation as high risk. While this progress has been
positive, DHS needs to continue to demonstrate measurable and
sustainable progress in implementing corrective actions and
achieving those actions and outcomes that we and the Department
Efforts by the Department and by Congress, through proposed
legislation and continued oversight, for example, are important
to helping ensure that the Department has the people,
processes, and systems in place to strengthen management
functions and address remaining challenges. GAO will also
continue to work constructively with the Department. For
example, senior GAO and DHS officials have met routinely over
the past 7 years to discuss the Department's plans and progress
in addressing this high-risk area and we will continue those
This concludes my prepared statement. I am happy to answer
any questions Members have.
Chairman Johnson. Thank you, Director Gambler.
Our final witness is Michele Mackin. Ms. Mackin is the
Director on the Acquisition and Sourcing Management team at the
U.S. Government Accountability Office. In her capacity, Ms.
Mackin leads GAO's work on DHS acquisitions and navy ship
building. Director Mackin.
TESTIMONY OF MICHELE MACKIN,\1\ DIRECTOR, ACQUISITION AND
SOURCING MANAGEMENT, U.S. GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE
Ms. Mackin. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon,
Ranking Member Carper and Members of the Committee. Thank you
for having me here today to discuss DHS acquisition management
and oversight. My statement is based on our work over more than
a decade of reviewing DHS's major acquisition programs--those
expected to cost $300 million or more.
\1\ The joint prepared statement of Ms. Mackin and Ms. Gambler
appears in the Appendix on page 56.
The stakes are high at DHS when acquisitions are not
properly managed. In addition to the potential for wasting
taxpayer dollars, there is a risk that end users, such as
border agents and the Transportation Security Administration
(TSA) screeners, will not get the technologies or systems they
need within required timeframes.
As we have reported for many years, DHS acquisition policy
reflects a ``best practices'' approach. Programs are not to
proceed to the next milestone unless they have key acquisition
documents in place. For example, if they do not have approved
mission needs or requirements, they are not to begin buying
capabilities. I note that the proposed acquisition reform bill
reflects these sound practices.
However, we found that DHS programs have not always
followed these policies. As a result, programs have not
delivered expected capabilities within cost and schedule
targets. The Secure Border Initiative's (SBI's) SBInet and the
Integrated Deepwater System Program (Deepwater) come to mind as
some significant examples.
A continuing theme in our work has been the struggle to get
all of the DHS components on board with following the
acquisition policies. In 2005, we reported that DHS's
acquisition organization was fragmented among the components,
and we said that if top leaders did not address this challenge,
DHS would continue to deliver stop-gap, ad hoc solutions to its
When we reviewed the acquisition function a few years
later, in 2008, the picture was bleak. About a third of the
major programs had proceeded with funding even though they did
not have validated requirements. Just as troubling, two-thirds
of the programs lacked approved cost estimates. We concluded
that taxpayers were investing billions of dollars in major
acquisition programs without appropriate oversight.
We also found, in 2008, that the Joint Requirements Council
had not met since 2006. This body was reinstated in 2014, and I
note that the headquarters reform bill that has been proposed
does outline this body's roles and responsibilities. Having a
Joint Requirements Council in place that validates requirements
and attempts to eliminate redundancies across the Department is
one of our high-risk acquisition outcomes.
We did our next in-depth review in 2012, and,
unfortunately, things were not much better. We continued to
find that most programs lacked approved cost and schedule
estimates as well as agreed-upon performance objectives even
though these were required by policy.
Based on the limited information available at that time, we
found that cost estimates for 16 major programs had increased
by 166 percent. This was largely because cost estimates were
not properly developed in the first place.
Recently, however, we have seen real progress at the
Department. For example, management is more focused now on
ensuring that its major programs are affordable. Further, we
found, in 2015, that costs had increased by $9.7, billion as
measured against initial baselines.
The good news is, this was the first time we could do such
an assessment--because program documentation had improved. We
attribute this, in large part, to the sustained attention of
senior leadership in holding components and programs
That said, the Department is not there yet. There are still
some acquisition basics that are not ingrained in the culture.
In addition to the cost, schedule, and requirements issues I
have discussed, we found that program data have not been
accurately reported, internally or externally, to Congress.
And, workforce capacity and skills, such as program managers
and cost estimators, continue to be a challenge.
Moving forward, DHS will need to sustain the progress we
have seen recently and ensure that its sound acquisition
policies are followed at all levels of the Department.
Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Carper, this concludes my
prepared remarks. Thank you.
Chairman Johnson. Thank you, Director Mackin.
I would like to first start with the Inspector General and
the representatives from GAO. First of all, Director Mackin,
how long have you been working in this capacity and really
doing audits on DHS?
Ms. Mackin. I was involved with the first report we did on
the acquisition functions in 2005.
Chairman Johnson. OK. Director Gambler.
Ms. Gambler. I have been covering this work, as a Director,
for about 2 years, but, prior to becoming a Director, I worked
on DHS management issues for several years.
Chairman Johnson. OK. And, General Roth, I know time flies.
You have been in this position not quite 2 years?
Mr. Roth. 2 years and 2 weeks.
Chairman Johnson. So, this is not a fair question, but,
having gone through in my private sector business a lot of
audits, both financial as well as quality audits--that type of
thing, I mean, there is no doubt about it, good auditors are
always going to find something. You can always find something
to continuously improve on. I just want to get some sort of
sense over that time of looking at DHS--let us say they started
at zero--again, it was a significant challenge trying to
combine 22 agencies--and the management challenge to finally
getting to 100 would get them off of the ``High-Risk List.''
How far are they up on that scale? How much progress has been
made? Again, I am not going to hold you to it, but I just kind
of want to get some sort of sense. Director Gambler, you look
like you are ready to hop in.
Ms. Gambler. Absolutely. Based on our high-risk criteria,
we would say that they are three-fifths of the way there. So,
whatever that calculates into as a percentage----
Chairman Johnson. That would be 60 percent. [Laughter.]
Ms. Gambler. We would say they are about three-fifths of
the way there.
Chairman Johnson. Director Mackin, would you give them a
bit more than 60 percent or----
Ms. Mackin. Yes, I certainly agree with what Ms. Gambler
said. On the acquisition front, I will note, having looked at
this evolve over 10-plus years, it is only very recently that
we have started to see real progress. Obviously, the
acquisition area is a subset of our overall high-risk area. So,
we are seeing more accountability now, and we hope that the
Department can keep that up at all levels--as I mentioned.
Chairman Johnson. General Roth, do you want to kind of
chime in? That was very subjective.
Mr. Roth. Correct, and, based on my limited experience thus
far, there has been sustained leadership in this area, which I
think is one of the key factors in moving forward on this. So,
when I look at some of the older audits that we had done--and
some of those were nightmare scenarios--the SBInet, for
example, that had been mentioned earlier--we are out of those
kinds of woods and in a different place.
Chairman Johnson. OK. And these 2 gentlemen had a lot to do
with that, so we certainly appreciate that.
Have all 3 of you read the legislation? Do you have any
problems with it? Again, based on what your recommendations
are, we have tried to--I am sure we attempted to include those
in that legislation. Are you satisfied with it? Are there
things that you are concerned about still? I will start with
you, Director Mackin.
Ms. Mackin. I would say we have been through it, in detail,
especially the acquisition bill, and it reflects quite a few of
the findings and recommendations we have made over the years--
and, obviously, codifies what we are on record as saying is a
very sound ``best practices'' acquisition approach.
Chairman Johnson. Any glaring omissions?
Ms. Mackin. The only thing I would mention there is in the
Future Years Homeland Security Program (FYHSP) section, we have
recommended the Department reflect funding gaps for individual
programs over the FYHSP. That was one relatively minor issue
that we might recommend you consider.
Chairman Johnson. Director Gambler.
Ms. Gambler. I would agree with my colleague. In the
broader DHS management bill, a number of the functions and
responsibilities that are identified within the management area
are very consistent with GAO's findings and include the actions
and outcomes that we, and the Department, have agreed need to
be addressed in order, to ultimately, meet GAO's 5 criteria for
getting off of the ``High-Risk List.'' So, we see a lot of
consistency between the language that is in the proposed bill
and our high-risk actions and outcomes.
Chairman Johnson. Any omissions that you would want to
Ms. Gambler. Not that we would note.
Chairman Johnson. OK. General Roth.
Mr. Roth. I would concur with GAO's findings on this. I
think this is exactly what the Department would need. It gives
that imprimatur of legislation to what are current practices.
But, again, what we always worry about is, with change of
Administrations and changes in leadership, things can happen,
things can fall off, and things can no longer be a priority. If
it is in law, that is going to be less likely to happen.
Chairman Johnson. Which is, of course, why we are trying to
codify it. Secretary Deyo, I think you were the one that talked
about how there was a Joint Requirements Council previously,
but it was not sustained. Do you know why it was not? Can you
point to what happened?
Mr. Deyo. I do not. Do you know, Mr. Fulghum? I just know
it did not----
Mr. Fulghum. I think part of it was due to competing
priorities. About the time it was formed, we were heavily
focused on Hurricane Katrina and other things, and we just lost
Chairman Johnson. Oh, OK. Again, another reason for
codifying this, so that does not happen.
Secretary Deyo, I just have to talk to you a little bit
about coming from the private sector. We had this discussion in
our roundtable. Can you describe to me what is so difficult in
government? We had this hearing yesterday about the IT system
within USCIS, and there are systems in the private sector that
do really what we need to do in so many of these agencies and
departments--just getting common accounting. I imagine, in your
previous life, Johnson & Johnson probably acquired different
businesses. And, I was acquired, and, trust me, our accounting
system switched over very quickly. What prevents it? Why does
that not happen in government?
Mr. Deyo. It is a great question. I am still learning. You
do not have as much flexibility, so let us take the common
financial systems, all right? Exactly what you described. At
Johnson & Johnson, if there was an acquisition, no matter how
large, the first thing that happened was to feed it into the
common financial system, because how else can you plan and how
else can you accurately report on a quarterly basis?
Chairman Johnson. And, that would normally take how long?
Mr. Deyo. First of all, you had the benefit of common
definitions because everybody's--we do not have common
definitions, necessarily, in these financial systems--but it
would be done in 6 months, at most. It is just a matter of
transitioning. And, since you had common definitions, even if
you were doing it by hand, you could do it. Here, it is just
more complicated and it just takes longer.
In terms of what you are describing, in terms of the common
financial system, we want to make sure we do it right. The GAO
representatives talked about the risk of our internal controls
and we are doing this in a staged way to ensure that we do it
at the start of a financial year, so that we can manage it
without the disruption. So, that is why this one is taking so
Chairman Johnson. So, just give me an example, and then I
will turn it over to Ranking Member Carper. What do you mean
you do not have common definitions? I mean, numbers are
numbers. You know what I am saying? What is different in terms
Mr. Deyo. I will turn to my exemplary CFO.
Mr. Fulghum. So, one of the key foundational things we need
to do in this Department is have a common data structure, what
we call a ``common account structure.'' So, when these agencies
were formed, they had unique accounting codes. And, so one of
the things we have done is said, ``OK, you can keep some of
your unique accounting codes, but there are certain things in
this Department that we need to simplify in terms of
structure.'' So, it is complicated.
I would add to what the Under Secretary said, in terms of
disparate systems--not modernized systems--the capacity to
migrate to a new modernized solution, and the audit risk that
is inherent when you migrate. And, the Department has only
gotten 3 opinions in a row and, of course, takes that very
So, we have taken a tiered approach to doing it. We are on
a path to getting there. It is just going to take us some
time--that, combined with limited resources. I mean, there is
only so much money you can put toward this in any given year,
given the competing priorities that we need to fund, in terms
of operational capability.
Chairman Johnson. OK. Well, thank you. Senator Carper.
Senator Carper. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. Gambler, I feel like I would like to start this first
question with you. Many times in my life, I have begun a
sentence by saying, ``If I were a gambler.'' [Laughter.]
Have you ever used that?
Ms. Gambler. I do not, but I have had other comments and
jokes about the last name.
Senator Carper. Have you always been a Gambler?
Ms. Gambler. I have always been a Gambler.
Senator Carper. Oh, good. Good. I want to start by asking
why is it important to codify--and the rest of you may recall
this, but, when we were trying to get him confirmed--and get
the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary, and others confirmed--
people, and my colleagues, would ask, ``Why is it so important
to get him confirmed?'' And, we would say, ``Well, it makes it
clear that these folks have earned the imprimatur of the U.S.
Senate.'' We have vested our faith in them. And, let me just
ask Mr. Deyo, is that true? Have you often seen that?
Mr. Deyo. Yes. It does make a big difference--credibility
and to have people listen, just as codification of these steps
will make a huge difference to the component compliance, and
all of our compliance, and our ability to make these a standard
process. Once it becomes routinized, people will use it because
they will see it works. But, we are not there yet.
Senator Carper. Alan Simpson used to be a Senator here. I
do not know if he was on this Committee or not, but he was
remembered for being very funny. But, he also said some
memorable things that were not funny but were, I think, right
on--dead on. He used to say: ``Integrity, if you have it,
nothing else matters. Integrity, if you do not have it, nothing
else matters.'' Think about that.
I think the same is true of leadership. And, I would like
to ask the Inspector General, Ms. Gambler, and Ms. Mackin just
to reflect on this Department and the leadership of this
Department--and the words that I just shared on leadership and
the importance of leadership. And, just give us your readout,
please. Mr. Roth.
Mr. Roth. Thank you. And, I have said this publicly in
testimony as well as elsewhere. Secretary Johnson and his
leadership team believe in oversight and believe in an
independent Inspector General, which is not to say they always
like what it is I say, but they believe in the office and
believe that oversight makes a huge difference.
Senator Carper. Ms. Gambler.
Ms. Gambler. I would say, particularly, as it relates to
the high-risk area, we have seen extremely strong leadership,
commitment, and support in addressing the high-risk areas and
to working constructively with GAO on that. We have also seen a
lot of commitment on the part of the Department and its top
leadership to address the actions and outcomes and to address
GAO's recommendations. So, we have, I think, had a good,
constructive working relationship and dialogue with them on
these management issues.
Senator Carper. All right. Thank you. Ms. Mackin.
Ms. Mackin. I certainly agree with that, and I think the
integrity aspect comes into play, specifically, in the
acquisition issues. We have not seen them overstate their
progress and try to convince us that things are much better
than they really are.
Senator Carper. Is that right? That is interesting.
Ms. Mackin. It is a very legitimate dialogue.
Senator Carper. Maybe we should try that. [Laughter.]
In our roles.
Chairman Johnson. Speak for yourself.
Senator Carper. Mr. Chairman says to speak for myself.
I think you said, Ms. Mackin, in your statement earlier,
you said that you sensed progress, initially--maybe slower than
you would have liked, but, in terms of ``Unity of Effort'' and
making progress on these fronts with acquisition. But, I think
you said--either you or Ms. Gambler said that, over time, the
pace has sped up--has picked up. Who said that? Was that you or
was that Ms. Gambler?
Ms. Mackin. Our observation, on the acquisition issues, is
that it picked up quite a bit, I would say, in the last 2
Senator Carper. And why do you suppose that is?
Ms. Mackin. Probably due to leadership. Probably due to
just the acquisition organization beginning to mature. I mean,
the current acquisition policy was implemented in 2008, so it
is still relatively recent. Trying to get the reach down
through the components to every program office has been a
Senator Carper. OK. Someone also spoke about 3 root causes.
Mr. Roth, just go back and revisit that. Tell us again what you
Mr. Roth. Sure. The first thing is that components do not
always follow departmental guidance.
Senator Carper. These are the 3 root causes for what?
Mr. Roth. For our lookback on some of the acquisition
problems that we have seen in the course of our audits in the
last 4 or 5 years. First, components do not always follow
acquisition guidance. Second, they do not do appropriate
oversight of their own acquisition process. And, third, they
need better data and acquisition management tools to be able to
do their job.
Senator Carper. Sometimes, we pass legislation around here
that addresses symptoms of problems, but not root causes. And,
I would like to think that, in the legislation that we are
considering--these 2 bills--we look at the root causes and the
symptoms. But, when you think about root causes and the 3 that
you just went through, is there anything in our legislation
that is actually helpful in those regards?
Mr. Roth. It absolutely all is helpful in those regards.
Having oversight of the Department, I think, is extraordinarily
important. To be able to enforce discipline down into the
component level--that is really where we see all of the
problems. When we look at acquisition after acquisition, we can
really show that if they had followed the Department's guidance
and had been appropriately supervising the acquisition process,
this would not have been a problem.
Senator Carper. All right. Ms. Gambler, you mentioned in
your testimony, I think you said that, of the 2,400
recommendations that you have personally given to this
Department, some 70 percent of them have been acted on. And, my
first thought is that sounds pretty good. Would those be 2,400
recommendations over like a 12-year period?
Ms. Gambler. Yes, that was about 2,400 recommendations
since 2003--since the start-up of the Department. That is
right. And, about 70 percent have been implemented--and I would
just note that the Department has actions underway to address
others there. They are just not yet at the place where we would
consider them fully implemented.
Senator Carper. I see. And, I am tempted to say, ``Well,
that is great progress,'' but we do not know if maybe they have
taken 70 percent of like the easiest, least meaningful
recommendations and done something with those, and the really
tough ones are still out there. How would you characterize the
apportionment of this progress?
Ms. Gambler. Sure. Thinking about it, maybe, Senator, in
the context of the DHS management areas and some of the
recommendations that we have made there, and the related
actions and outcomes, I think it is fair to say that DHS has
really taken action to put in place some of the building
blocks--some of the foundational kind of recommendations and
actions and outcomes that need to be put into place to help
address the high-risk area. I think where we need to continue
to see progress, in terms of what they are continuing to work
on, are some of those things that help to show that sustainable
measurable progress over time.
Senator Carper. Good. And, the last question is: In the
time before Jeh Johnson was confirmed as Secretary and became
Secretary, and we had previous leadership in the Department--
the Deputy was, for a while--I think for 4 years--Jane Holl
Lute. Did you ever work with her? Did she ever come and meet
with you folks?
Ms. Gambler. She did. I would say for the last 7 or 8
years, we have enjoyed a very constructive dialogue with DHS
over these high-risk issues, to include folks at all different
levels within the Department, including the most senior levels.
Senator Carper. And, under the leadership of Secretary Jeh
Johnson, who would you say, in the Department, you have the
closest--at the senior level--working relationship with? Would
it be the Deputy? Would it be the Under Secretary?
Ms. Gambler. GAO's leadership has had discussions with the
Deputy Secretary and, I believe, with the Secretary, as well,
on high-risk issues. I think we work most closely on kind of a
regular basis with the Under Secretary for Management and his
Senator Carper. All right. Good. Thank you so much.
Chairman Johnson. Thank you, Senator Carper.
Before I turn it over to Senator Lankford and then to
Senator Booker, I am going to apologize. This is the first time
I have had to do this--leave a hearing before it is concluded.
Obviously, the reason we called this hearing is to allow
Senators to come in and really gain the understanding that I
think Senator Carper and I have gained, in terms of this
process--working with the House Committee on Homeland Security,
their staff, our Committee, our Committee staff, GAO, the OIG's
office, and the good folks at the Department of Homeland
Security. This is a pretty good work product, and certainly,
from my standpoint, what I have been hearing in testimony here
really confirms that point. We have good leadership. We have
dedicated management. And, we have some very capable auditors
watching this process.
So, I certainly feel very confident that these are 2 pieces
of legislation that are well worth supporting. We are going to
do everything we can on the part of this Committee to try and
get these passed through the Committee, passed through the
Senate, combined with the House bills, and signed into law, so
that we really can codify this. But, I think I can trust some
capable members here for figuring out how this thing is going
to all wrap up.
But, again, I really want to thank you for all of your
efforts. I want to thank the Senators for attending. Kick the
tires, ask the questions--but, in the end, I am hoping we can
really get a good result here. So, with that, thank you.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR LANKFORD
Senator Lankford. Thank you.
Let me get a chance to get just a sense of this as well. My
sense of it is--and I am trying to figure this out based on the
timing of the request to try to codify this. If you had the
same leadership in place that you have now, let us say for the
next 5 years--which, obviously, there are transitions in
leadership, Presidents, and all of that kind of stuff. If you
had the same leadership there for the next 5 years, would you
ask for this codification at that point? Or, would you just
assume the leaders that are in place know this is working and
they would leave it alone, basically? Is this a sense that,
just in case somebody coming next does not agree, we need to
get this in place and make sure we hold it?
Mr. Deyo. Thank you, Senator. I will take the first shot at
that. We would certainly be in a better position if we knew we
had 5 years of continuity of leadership, because we are all so
committed to this process at the senior level in the
Department. But, even if we were not facing a transition, there
is a large benefit to the codification of these processes
because it reinforces and makes clear to everyone that it is a
requirement that we follow.
Second, it makes very clear the accountability of the
individuals, including the Under Secretary for Management----
Senator Lankford. So, help me to understand what you gain
by that, because right now--we talked about before, and I heard
that testimony before, that, at times, we are not getting good
supervision--it is not being enforced on this. So, what does
that bring to bear once it is codified? Is that a discipline
issue? Is that a structural issue? What do you gain by
codifying this that you do not have now?
Mr. Deyo. What we gain is reinforcing the legitimacy of
what we are doing. We do not need it--we would keep doing what
we are doing without the codification.
Senator Lankford. So, the discipline processes are the same
Mr. Deyo. There are some aspects of the legislation we
might differ on, modestly, but, no, in terms of capturing
exactly what we are trying to do and the process we are trying
to follow, it would be totally consistent. Am I answering your
Senator Lankford. I think so.
Mr. Fulghum. Sir, if I could just add, a key thing it does
is codify the relationship between the component acquisition
executive and the Chief Acquisition Officer (CAO) in the
Department. And, I think that is a key, foundational piece of
this legislation that we need.
Senator Lankford. OK. I am still trying to dig to try to
figure this out as well. Is it a concern that, regardless of
who the next President is--and I will not get into parties.
Regardless of who the next President is, they are going to come
back and try to shift this. So, I am trying to get a feel for
this. How many different systems have been in place over, let
us say, the last 10 or 15 years? Is this a product of, ``We
changed systems multiple times and, just when we get going, we
have to change it. We do not have a good working system, now we
feel like we have a good working system, let us pour concrete
on it. Let us make sure we are actually running, because every
time we turned around before, there was some new
recommendation, and we had to change systems and cannot ever
get measurable results? '' Because, obviously, being on the GAO
``High-Risk List'' for quite a while is an issue, and I am
trying to figure out--we are still on the GAO ``High-Risk
List'' on some of these things. We have not shown yet they
work, but you have a confidence they will work, and if they
keep going--this seems to be what I am hearing--this is finally
the structure that will work if we will just leave it alone.
How far off am I on that?
Mr. Deyo. We are confident that this system will work. I am
confident because of my private industry experience. I am
confident because of the clarity and the requirements that are
made clear in it, the 4 steps you have to go through, that you
have to have proper documentation, that there is oversight, and
that if there is a problem, we step in and evaluate before you
Senator Lankford. But, we do not know, we do not have a
measurable result yet so that we know it is going to work. We
think it is going to work--and it has had good results,
initially. But, we are still in the same boat on some of these
things. Am I right or wrong on that?
Mr. Deyo. I would say, on some of the acquisitions, we have
had some experience, now, that it is working.
Mr. Fulghum. Sir, I would say it is more about sustainment,
which is one of the key elements of getting off of the ``High-
Senator Lankford. Sure.
Mr. Fulghum. I think we have demonstrated to GAO and the IG
that this process, and the procedures we have in place, work.
Now, we have to show that we can sustain it--and this
legislation helps to codify that and to drive that sustainment.
Senator Lankford. OK. Mr. Roth, were you about to say
something on that?
Mr. Roth. Simply that, while there is not a lot of evidence
that this, in fact, works, it is the best practices across the
entire acquisitions industry within the Federal Government. I
would say that first.
Second, we know what does not work because audit after
audit has shown that, when they have failed to do the kinds of
things, like the Life Cycle Acquisition Framework, for example,
or the Joint Requirements Council or an Acquisitions Review
Board--every time that does not happen, the acquisition gets
into trouble. So, if we are doing autopsies on acquisitions--
where it went wrong--that is what we can see. So, we can see,
certainly, that the absence of that is a cause of a problem, so
we are hoping that having that sustained in concrete, as a
matter of law, will assist in avoiding those kinds of problems.
Senator Lankford. Sure, which goes back to my original
question, and that is, somewhat, my confusion. You are finally
getting to a process that everyone is nodding their head at and
saying, ``This is a good process.'' Why would the next group
step in and change it? Has there been a history of something
changing just when we get something good going? Or--why does it
suddenly need a statute, now, when it actually is a working and
Mr. Roth. I would say, if I could just jump in, it is about
competing priorities. This was clearly a priority of the
Secretary when he came in. He told me it was a priority. He has
made it a priority.
Senator Lankford. Right.
Mr. Roth. We cannot guarantee that there will not be other
competing priorities for the next Administration.
Senator Lankford. OK.
Mr. Deyo. I completely concur with that. It is exactly
that. It is a demanding process and it takes discipline. As we
do it more frequently and with a sustained approach, it will
become much easier because people will be used to it. But, it
is still a relatively new process--components are still
adjusting and we are still adjusting. And, with competing
priorities, the concern would be the focus on other things, and
this slipping away, again.
Senator Lankford. OK. So let me just throw in one thing.
Just processing what we do in this Committee all of the time,
we tried to codify Executive Order (EO) 12866 on how rules are
promulgated. It has been the Executive Order for 20-plus years,
so every President--Republican or Democrat--has renewed it and
said this is a good system for how we do it. So, we have tried
to codify that, and the Administration has fought vehemently
against us, saying we do not need to codify it, we have an
Executive Order, and there is no reason to put this into
concrete. And, my response has been that this is what
Republican and Democrat Presidents have done. But, they are
saying we lose the flexibility suddenly, and not to put this in
And, it is interesting to me to now deal with this to say,
``We found a process that works and we need you to move this
out of Executive Action and put this into law.''
And so, while you all are not responsible for articulating
the White House's policy on Executive Order 12866, for us, as
we deal with this, it does seem odd to say that at times we are
getting, ``We have to have this in law to be able to hold it,''
and at other times hearing, ``Do not put that in law. We want
So, I think the driving point for me is, would you have
wanted this when you came into this task--to know that this was
already set, so it is non-negotiable, so you could work on
other things? Or, where would you have been on this if you were
entering into the dialogue?
Mr. Deyo. I would have been thrilled that this was in place
when I came to the Department. I should note that it is a
rigorous process, but it does provide some flexibility.
Senator Lankford. As it should.
Mr. Deyo. As it should. So, it gives management absolute
accountability, but some discretion about how it handles each
piece of the determination.
Senator Lankford. OK.
Mr. Fulghum. Sir, if I could say another thing. Oversight,
at times, is uncomfortable for components. So, while there is
flexibility in there, oversight is uncomfortable. And so, this
codification helps with that authority, and it eliminates any
question about it. Are we able to do it, today? Yes. Would this
legislation help us? Yes, it would.
Senator Lankford. OK. All right. Thank you.
Thank you for the extra minute. Now you are firmly back in
the chair with the gavel next to you. Are you feeling rather
Senator Carper [Presiding.] A minute and 12 seconds.
Senator Lankford. Yes, sir. Thank you. Thank you for the
Senator Carper. I just want to say, in front of God and the
whole world, I thought those were excellent questions, and I
thought the answers from Russ and Chip, especially on the last
question, were very insightful and helpful. It was for me. I
hope it was for you.
I have just the last question, and then I have to run. But,
this would be for Mr. Deyo and for Mr. Fulghum. Can you tell us
how the Secretary's ``Unity of Effort'' Initiative is building
cohesion across the Department's many components and offices?
Just very briefly.
Mr. Deyo. I think it has taken hold, and it is building
cohesion. You can see it in multiple approaches. You can see it
at a Senior Leadership Council (SLC) meeting when the component
heads are around the table and talking about an issue and how
they approach it. You can clearly see it in the budget process,
with a mission focus on budget, rather than a component-by-
component build--and that collaboration taking place.
You can see it in the increased desire for human resources
to provide training that cuts across components, so there is
joint duty opportunities. I definitely see it in the
administrative councils, be it the CIO councils or the CFO
councils. Senators, we are so much better on cybersecurity
because of our CIO council and that collaboration across all of
the components with the authority that the chief CIO has to
drive forward, improving our IT systems and improving our
internal cybersecurity. That would not have been happening
without the ``Unity of Effort'' and that awareness.
Senator Carper. Please, go ahead.
Senator Lankford. Sorry. Let me ask a follow-up question on
that as well.
Senator Carper. Just very briefly, because then I have to
run. In fact, I have folks waiting to meet with me, and they
are wanting me to come right now.
Senator Lankford. You want to just keeping passing the
Senator Carper. Here is what I will do, and just close it
out whenever you are ready, OK?
Senator Lankford. Yes, will do. I just have a quick
Senator Carper. Just ask the last one here, and turn out
Senator Lankford. Deal.
Senator Carper. Thank you. Thank you, everyone. Great to
Senator Lankford [Presiding.] Let me ask this quick
question that came up as a result of what Senator Carper was
saying on this. If I recall correctly, there was a helicopter
program a couple of years ago with the Coast Guard and--I
cannot remember the other entity--but there was a collaboration
issue on that, as well as on trying to get all of the folks to
be able to talk together on it. Would what we are talking about
Mr. Roth. You are referring to an audit that we did on the
H-60 helicopter program.
Senator Lankford. That is it.
Mr. Roth. It was the Coast Guard and the U.S. Customs and
Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine. Coast Guard had a
facility that could do the maintenance on the CBP helicopters.
They were the same helicopters. The Air and Marine program had
not yet been brought under some of the departmental acquisition
reform. It was not part of the Acquisition Review Board, for
example, or the Joint Requirements Council. So, the Coast Guard
had one set of requirements and CBP had one set of
requirements. There is that sort of tribal competition, I would
say, between 2 components that share similar missions.
Senator Lankford. Thankfully, we have not had that on the
Joint Strike Fighter at all.
Mr. Roth. No, I am sure that is not the case at all.
I am happy to say, as a result of that audit and as a
result of the work that has happened in DHS, the whole Air and
Marine program has now been placed under the Acquisition Review
Board and an entire sort of life-cycle audit process. So, this
was a win.
Senator Lankford. What I am asking is--you are talking
about codifying. Would it have solved that, actually? Because
that was 3 or 4 years ago, if I remember correctly.
Mr. Roth. Correct, and it would have solved this.
Senator Lankford. So, it would have solved that.
Mr. Roth. Correct.
Senator Lankford. If this was in place at that time.
Mr. Roth. Correct.
Senator Lankford. OK. Since they have, unbelievably, turned
this whole conversation over to a freshman Senator, let me just
say thank you to all of you for the work that you are doing and
the dedication that you put to this. This is not simple stuff--
and I get that a lot of people are not engaged in this--but it
matters because it involves billions of Federal tax dollars,
and it takes dollars away--when we waste it--from things that
really need to be done in extremely important areas.
So the hearing record will remain open for 15 days, until
March 31 at 5 p.m. for the submission of statements and
questions for the record. Thank you to all of you. This hearing
[Whereupon, at 3:08 p.m., the Committee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
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