DHS ops centers lack coordination: GAO

Operations centers at the Homeland Security Department need to coordinate their efforts more effectively, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

The four centers that GAO reviewed are the Air and Marine Operations Center, National Targeting Center, Transportation Security Operations Center and National Operations Center. All four operate around the clock and perform surveillance of activities in their respective fields of coverage.

The National Targeting Center oversees border security, while the National Operations Center serves as a hub for disaster response.

The centers require guidance from the Operations Directorate, established in November 2005, but so far that has not happened because directorate officials said they did not have authority over the component centers.

Furthermore, DHS as a whole has focused on specific improvements in operations centers with regard to major disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the GAO said. Some of those improvements also will strengthen coordination among the centers.

The GAO said better guidance is needed to:
  • Define joint activities and strategies;
  • Assess needs to enable leveraging of resources;
  • Define defining roles and responsibilities for personnel performing surveillance;
  • Establish procedures to do information sharing;
  • Develop ways to monitor results; and
  • Effectively monitoring performance of the centers.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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