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Is the Department of Homeland Security necessary?

American flag with Homeland security sigil

The goal of the Department of Homeland Security is securing the country from all its threats. This requires more than 240,000 people to dedicate their time to jobs that include security and emergency response, cybersecurity analysis, chemical facility inspector, and aviation. Although our duties vary, our goal is to keep America safe.

Validation and verification of Performance Data

Because this information helps to determine progress towards achieving department and program goals and objectives, the Department recognises how important it is to collect accurate, reliable, and complete performance data. If transactions and other data supporting performance measures are correctly recorded, processed and summarised, performance data can be considered reliable. This allows for the preparation of performance information according to management criteria. OMB Circular A-136 Financial Reporting Requirements. OMB Circular A-11 and the Reports Consolidation Act of 2000.

DHS employed a multi-pronged approach to reduce risks and strengthen processes that improve the Department’s ability to report reliable and complete data for GPRA performance measurement reporting. This includes:

  • Performance Measure Definition form (PMDF);
  • Performance Measure Review List for Completeness, Reliability
  • Annual Assessments of the reliability and completeness of a selection of our performance measures by an outside review team.

Performance Measure Definition Form (PMDF).

The Office of the Chief Financial Officer/Program Analysis and Evaluation (CFO/PA&E) created a PMDF tool that allows us to describe each measure in our performance deliverables. The PMDF contains instructions for filling out all fields. It includes elements like the measure name, description and scope, data stored and where it was stored. A summary of the data collection process and the processes used to verify the data’s accuracy and to double-check its reliability.

The form’s data fields reflect GAO’s recommendations for data quality. They keep This information in an IT department and published yearly as Appendix A of our Annual Performance Report. The PMDF can also be used to manage change. It is used to review and propose new measures and make changes to existing ones.

GAO recently mentioned DHS’s meticulousness in gathering and reporting this information during their review of the performance information quality in their report: Managing For Results: Greater Transparency in Public Reporting Quality Performance Information for Selected Agencies Priority Goals (GAO-15-788).

Central Information Technology Repository for Performance Measure Information

They keep all approved measures by DHS in a Department-wide database accessible to all DHS personnel. This modular database allows the Department to manage its performance plan and capture quarterly performance results. The system contains all historical information regarding each measure, including details about the scope, data source, data collection method and an explanation of data reliability. They use the system’s data to generate all performance and accountability reports, both quarterly and annually. The performance data from the FYHSP system is then used to populate Department’s business intelligence tools that provide real-time information.

For completeness and reliability, a Performance Measure Checklist

Component Performance Improvement Officers can use the Performance Measure Checklist to verify the accuracy and reliability of the information in their performance and accountability reports. Components can use the Checklist to evaluate critical controls related to GPRA performance measures planning and reporting at the end of each fiscal year.

The components describe their control activities and give a rating about their compliance and the actions taken for each control. The component’s rating also includes the results of any independent or internal measure assessments. The Component Head assurance statements attest to the reliability and completeness of performance data supported by the Checklist. The Secretary can use individual Component Head assurance statements to determine whether the Department has adequate controls over financial reporting and the efficiency of operations.

Independent Evaluation of the Completeness of and Reliability Of Performance Measure Data

CFO/PA&E annually evaluates performance measure data for completeness, reliability and validity on a subset of performance measures using an independent review team. A team of independent reviewers evaluates the selected Component GPRA measure using the DHS Performance Measure Verification and Validation Handbook.

They document their findings and make recommendations for improvement. Performance measures that are not reliable require corrective action. The Handbook is accessible to all components to encourage internal data validation. Also the verification capabilities to develop and mature, increase transparency, and facilitate the review process.

Independent assessments also support Component Head assertions about the reliability of performance information. They report it in the Performance Measure Checklist or Component Head Assurance statement. DHS shared our process with other Agencies to support their validation and verification efforts.

GPRA Performance Measure Information Management Assurance Process

All DHS Component Heads must ensure that the Department’s Performance and Accountability reports contain accurate and reliable performance measure data. A Component must report any unreliable measure on the Performance Measure Checklist. This checklist includes the corrective actions taken by the Component to fix the measure’s reliability. That’s the exact reason why we try to cover all of the requirements to insure your safe travel with ESTA Visa Ireland.