DHS continues to face problems in building itself into” a cohesive, effective department” following its creation in 2003 from some two dozen former agencies and subcomponents of others, GAO has said.
The DHS office of Strategy, Policy and Plans, dubbed PLCY, develops and coordinates department-wide strategies and policies but while it has been effective regarding strategies, “a lack of clearly defined roles and responsibilities in DHS has hampered its efforts to develop and align policies” across the department, a report said.
That office further “does some workforce planning as part of its annual budgeting process, but does not systematically apply key principles of the DHS Workforce Planning Guide to help ensure that PLCY’s workforce aligns with its and DHS’s priorities and goals.”
One issue is staffing at the office itself: vacancies in key leadership positions and an emphasis on having employees who are generalists who can be assigned to meet needs of differing situations, which “requires tradeoffs, which may divert attention and resources from longer-term priorities.”
Further, while GAO found that the PLCY office and the DHS operational components communicate well at the senior levels, improvements are needed in communication with component staff. “Among the ideas offered by component officials to enhance communication and collaboration were holding routine small-group meetings, creating forums for periodic knowledge sharing, and maintaining accurate and up-to-date contact information for all staff-level stakeholders,” it said.