DHS faces tough climb with modernization of financial systems – FCW
DHS faces tough climb with modernization of financial systems
Officials say it will be years before the Homeland Security ministry completes modernizing its financial systems, a goal the ministry has set itself since its inception.
DHS has made significant progress in maturing the IT security and department’s capabilities in terms of the Government Accountability Office’s high-risk list, but “our remaining financial management challenges are rooted in our outdated financial systems,” said Randolph Alles, acting deputy secretary for management at DHS at a September 30 hearing at the House Homeland Security Committee.
Modernizing financial management systems is probably the biggest remaining challenge with integrating management functions, said Chris Currie, director of GAO’s Homeland Security and Justice team.
“To use an analogy with the private sector, you can imagine if 22 large companies had to combine financial systems and processes,” he said. “Although DHS has made progress, the initial challenge was so great that there is still a long way to go.”
Last September, the agency awarded first prizes on a global purchase contract for financial management software, something that has been in the works for at least four years. The agency awarded a separate contract for the integration to support the transition of legacy systems to the planned company-wide offering in February this year.
The Department has already modernized some systems.
Modernizing the U.S. Coast Guard system was the first effort, according to written testimony. The Transportation Security Agency and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction were both on this system, but released in 2021 and 2016, respectively.
The Coast Guard’s transition will begin next month, and it “is expected to be fully operational in the first quarter of fiscal 2022, after which its old system will begin to disappear,” the testimony said.
What remains are some of the more difficult systems in DHS, Currie said.
“The other financial management results focus on the modernization of the procurement and asset management systems used by [Federal Emergency Management Agency] and [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement]Alles said. “And DHS is moving forward with a system that serves these components. We plan to report significant progress soon over the next three to five years. “
The FEMA system, for example, is over 25 years old, Currie said. At one time, FEMA operated over 20 different grant programs with different systems.
DHS is also moving forward with the system at ICE, according to Alles’ written testimony.
The “Current Notional Timeline” is for the smaller FEMA, ICE and DHS components currently on the ICE system to gradually move to solutions starting at the end of FY 2024 through the end of FY 2026 .
Natalie Alms is a writer at FCW and covers the Federal Workforce. She recently graduated from Wake Forest University and wrote for the Salisbury (NC) Post. Connect with Natalie on Twitter at @AlmsNatalie.