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.