WASHINGTON ― The Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security did not perform proper oversight when implementing a new digital strategy for its Technology Infrastructure Modernization (TIM) program, according to the Government Accountability Office. The TSA had intended to incorporate agile software development within TIM, yet the agency failed to define key roles and responsibilities, implement automated capabilities and prioritize system requirements for the effective usage of agile.
TIM was initiated in 2008 as a means to enhance the TSA’s digital support system capacity and security threat assessments with it to be fully operational in 2015. However, TSA suspended TIM in 2015 due to substantial cost and schedule overruns. TIM was re-baselined in September 2016, costing $1.27 billion and intending to be fully operational come 2021. The new baseline puts the program $639 million and six years beyond the original plan.
While TSA and DHS did fully implement a practice for tracking and identifying corrective actions for TIM, they failed to initialize several other practices necessary for proper program oversight. For example, the agencies only partially developed vital procedures for TIM government oversight. This included the TSA developing a risk management plan for agile without updating the TIM life-cycle plan in conjunction with the new agile governance framework.
The TIM program management office subsequently failed to create proper oversight thresholds for ensuring the program was performing effectively. There was also the lack of measurement of the TIM program against agile-release metrics and the re-baselined cost. The GAO also found inconsistently reported TIM performance data, with program officials stating that they planned to test every line of code, yet ultimately not providing evidence they were actually doing so.
Other issues of note included TSA officials not updating key TIM management documentation, DHS leadership’s inability to a reach a consensus on crucial oversight changes to agile, and TIM currently being six months behind schedule for reaching its intended 2021 operation date.
GAO made 14 recommendations for DHS and TSA, including that DHS better prioritize its TIM requirements and having the agency reach a proper consensus on program governance.