GAO Report on Maritime Security
On June 20, 2008 the United States Government Accountability Office released their latest report on maritime security. In its verdict GAO found that the National Strategy and Supporting Plans were generally well-developed and are being implemented.
Results in Brief:
“Of the six desirable characteristics of an effective national strategy that GAO identified in 2004, the National Strategy for Maritime Security and its supporting implementation plans together address four and partially address the remaining two. The four characteristics that are addressed include:
(1) purpose, scope, and methodology;
(2) problem definition and risk assessment;
(3) organizational roles, responsibilities, and coordination; and
(4) integration and implementation.
The two characteristics that are partially addressed are: (1) goals, objectives, activities, and performance measures and (2) resources, investments, and risk management. These characteristics are partially addressed primarily because the strategy and its plans lack information on performance measures and the resources and investments elements of these characteristics. Specifically, only one of the supporting plans mentions performance measures and many of these measures are presented as possible or potential performance measures. However, in previous work we have noted the existence of performance measures for individual maritime security programs. For example, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has established performance metrics for its Automated Targeting System, which assists in determining which containers are to be subjected to inspection, and uses performance measures to gauge the effectiveness of its Container Security Initiative program, which is designed to detect and deter terrorists from smuggling weapons of mass destruction via cargo containers. We have also recommended that DHS develop performance measures for other maritime security programs and DHS has concurred with these recommendations. The resources, investments, and risk management characteristic is also partially addressed. While the strategic actions and recommendations discussed in the maritime security strategy and supporting implementation plans constitute an approach to minimizing risk and investing resources, the strategy and seven of its supporting implementation plans lack information on the sources and types of resources needed for their implementation. In addition, the national strategy and three of the supporting plans also lack investment strategies to direct resources to necessary actions. To address this, the working group has recommended to the Maritime Security Policy Coordination Committee that it should examine the feasibility of creating an interagency priorities and investment strategy for the supporting plans. Despite these shortcomings, we recognize that other documents are used for allocating resources. For example, DHS’s latest Fiscal Year Homeland Security Program, a 5-year resource plan to support the mission, priorities, and goals of the department within projected funding, provides some details on how much DHS expects to spend to implement its maritime security responsibilities.
Our review of documents provided by the Maritime Security WorkingGroup indicates that the implementation status of the eight supporting plans varies. Specifically, the working group reported on the status of each plan by indicating whether the plan was in the guidance, planning, execution, or assessment and evaluation phase.7 They reported that as of November 2007, one plan had reached the execution phase, another had reached the assessment phase, and a third had been completed. The other five plans remained primarily in the planning phase. The working group also identified 76 actions across the various supporting plans and has monitored the implementation of these actions. According to the working group, as of November 2007, 6 of these actions were completed and 70 were ongoing.”
Source: GAO Report on Maritime Security