In a new report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) notes that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, led to profound changes in U.S. government agendas, policies, and structures to confront homeland security threats facing the nation. Most notably, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began operations in 2003 with key missions that included preventing terrorist attacks from occurring in the U.S., reducing the country’s vulnerability to terrorism, and minimizing the damages from any attacks that may occur. DHS is now the third-largest federal department, with more than 200,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $50 billion. Since 2003, the GAO has issued over 1,000 reports on DHS’s operations in such areas as border and transportation security and emergency management. The report addresses DHS’s progress and challenges in implementing its homeland security missions since it began operations, and issues affecting implementation efforts.

The GAO report is available at