Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 26, 2008

Technology Task Force Presents 7 Recommendations to Chertoff

Filed under: Business of HLS,Organizational Issues,Technology for HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 26, 2008

I’ve covered the work of the DHS Essential Technology Task Force here and here, and yesterday the ETTF reported out its final recommendations to the Secretary during the public portion of the HSAC’s bi-annual meeting with the Secretary.

The Secretary of Homeland Security tasked the Homeland Security Advisory Council with establishing an Essential Technologies Task Force (ETTF) to address the following questions:

• What are the legal, financial and operational issues that must be understood to assess whether and to what extent DHS should acquire various types of technology on a service or lease basis, rather than as a purchase/capital investment?

• What types of technology might be considered as candidates for different approaches?

• What types of financial arrangements would the private sector likely be prepared to accept, and how should DHS assess the pros and cons of each?

IBM’s Scott Gould and I were among those invited to testify before the Task Force. On the two occasions that I presented to them, my testimony focused on key attributes of successful technology acquisition from other parts of the USG, as well as opportunities for DHS to collaborate with international partners for joint technology development, the models for which reside at the EU, NATO, and elsewhere.

Both Scott and I made the point that without an overarching framework to guide a Department-wide acquisition strategy, little progress is likely. Scott actually recommended using the Global Movement Management framework as a model, which the Task Force chose to include as a specific example in their final report. That report described in detail the following seven top-level recommendations:

1. Build a high performance acquisitions and program management function implemented by capable staff.

2. Adopt a rigorous Department-wide requirements management process.

3. Develop a Department-wide acquisition strategy with a clear implementation plan.

4. Improve engagement with the private sector.

5. Manage innovation though a variety of approaches.

6. Use the regulatory and standards setting role of DHS to generate economies of scale across stakeholder domains.

7. Continue to advocate for the reduction of homeland security Congressional committees.

The Secretary stayed only to delivery praise to the Task Force and swear in three new members to the HSAC. He left before ETTF chairman George Vradenburg delivered his presentation on the Task Force’s findings. This is unfortunate. The ETTF is another example of how the HSAC is becoming a more focused and more useful advisory entity to the DHS leadership. Kudos to Chuck Adams and Amanda Rittenhouse for their tireless efforts over the last several months in leading the Task Force’s staff team.

Before he left, Chertoff charged the HSAC membership with one more task: “What are the ten tasks for the next Administration to take up and accomplish over its first year or two?”

It seemed odd to charge this group with something so trite. However, he explained, rightly, that it is important that efforts be made to preserve the institutional knowledge of the Department into and through its first ever Presidential transition.

I’d like to know what you think should make the top ten list. Comment below.

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 27, 2008 @ 9:49 am

Very important issues tucked away here. First, probably does deserve DHS department wide assessment and analysis of needs. By the way some departments as part of their planning and evaluation function have a centralized statistical gathering, processing and analytic function. Don’t hear much about DHS and statistics, often in the context of metrics for management purposes now. FEMA for example always collected relatively meaningless statistics when an independent agency and of course had no idea of how important statistics and metrics were for managing and improving the agency. For example, meaningful disaster statistics have now been posted on the PERI website (Public Entity Research Institute) thanks to them and Professor Richard Sylves of Delaware who obtained the statistics (having to virtually pull teeth from FEMA, GAO and others). Professor Sylves just published a book called “Disaster Policy and Politics” published by CQ press that might be of interest to readers of this blog. Too many politicians still in DHS and too few expert managers. Congress needs to limit DHS political appointees to under 300. Still probably close to 900 positions vetted politically in DHS and a highly politicized DHS Human Resources operation. Again, my usual theme, time for amatuer night to end for DHS. Mid-west flooding going to be in news for a long long time probably right up to the Cat 4 or 5 hurricane in September or October to add to election fun. Or is this the year of the BIG One in CA?

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