The Government Accountability Office released a report today entitled “Opportunities Exist to Enhance Collaboration at 24/7 Operations Centers Staffed by Multiple DHS Agencies,” which surveys four multi-agency DHS operations centers – the CBP National Targeting Center, the CBP Air and Marine Operations Center, the TSA Operations Center, and the DHS National Operations Center – and calls for increased integration of their efforts:
Opportunities exist to enhance collaboration among 24/7/365 multi-agency operations centers. While DHS has leveraged resources by having staff from multiple agencies work together, the centers lack joint strategies for collaboration and staffing needs assessments, and they have not established a definition of watchstander roles for all agencies at each center. The centers also lack standards and procedures for using DHSâ€™s primary information sharing network; mechanisms to monitor, evaluate, and report on results; and reinforced accountability through agency plans and reports.
The report mentions, but does not focus on, 21 other 24/7/365 single-agency operations centers at DHS, listing them in Appendix I. Added to these four, that’s 25 operations centers in existence today at DHS, and that doesn’t even begin to include the many regional and local operations center in existence as part of the nation’s homeland security efforts. It seems clear to me that there is room for consolidation and rationalization here. GAO’s recommendation for a “joint strategy” for operations centers could help identify these. This should be a top priority of the Operations Directorate at DHS, with the objectives of creating a true common operational picture while simultaneously reducing costs.