Audit: DHS’ Human Capital System Still in Bad Shape

Mark J. Terrill/AP File Photo

PALMS last year caused one member of Congress to exclaim, “$180 million pissed away.”

The Homeland Security Department has spent more than $24 million on a human capital and performance management system since 2013 that “does not achieve the intended benefits or address the department’s needs.”

That’s according to a DHS Office of Inspector General audit of the Performance and Learning Management System, or PALMS, which last year caused one member of Congress—Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa.—to exclaim, “$180 million pissed away.”

Evidently, DHS still hasn’t gotten its performance management system right.

» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.

“PALMS does not address the Department’s critical need for an integrated department-wide system; it has not met DHS operational requirements for effective administration of employee learning and performance management activities,” the audit states. “This occurred because the PALMS program office did not effectively implement the acquisition methodology selected for PALMS and did not monitor contractor performance.”

In addition to the $24 million spent on the contract, held by Visionary Integration Professionals, with little to show for it, the audit states DHS spent $5.7 million for unused or partially used subscriptions; $11 million to extend legacy contracts and nearly $1 million more in increased program management costs.

The audit is filled with additional lowlights, including a rebuke of DHS’ declaration that PALMS was operational in January 2015.

“The system’s learning management capability was not operational for DHS headquarters users until October 2015, and the performance management capability is still not operational due to unmet operational requirements,” the audit states.

The audit makes seven recommendations to DHS headquarters, all of which the agency agreed to implement.