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Since its creation in 2003, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been developing new information technology (IT) systems to perform both mission-critical and support functions; however, it has faced challenges in developing these systems. One way to manage the inherent risks of developing and acquiring systems is through independent verification and validation (IV&V) — a process conducted by a party independent of the development effort that provides an objective assessment of a project's processes, products, and risks throughout its life cycle and helps ensure that program performance, schedule, and budget targets are met.
The GAO was asked to determine (1) how DHS's IV&V policies and procedures for IT acquisitions compare with leading practices and (2) the extent to which DHS has implemented IV&V on its large IT system acquisitions. To do so, GAO assessed DHS's policy against industry standards and leading practice guides, as well as analyzed how eight selected IT programs had implemented IV&V.