People and procurement should be the biggest priorities for the Homeland Security Department (DHS), as it enters the upcoming presidential transition and it approaches its 15th anniversary as an agency, according to a survey. Finding, recruiting, retaining and developing personnel into future DHS leaders is a major concern for the homeland security enterprise (HSE) in the future, as is improving the department’s often fractured relationship with industry.
The Council published the first of its five-year 20/20 outlook on the department in 2015, when it focused on Secretary Jeh Johnson’s Unity of Effort initiative. The Council and Grant Thornton this year collected opinions from more than 100 current and former leaders at DHS and other organizations whose work intersects with the department’s mission on the entire homeland security enterprise.
Over the course of the fall of 2016, 102 government leaders and industry executives participated via five focus groups, more than a dozen in-person interviews and a web-based survey. Respondents include senior leaders of every DHS component, DHS Headquarters, Departments of State and Justice, Intelligence Community, state and local agencies, and executives from leading firms that support the HSE.
To help inform the new administration that will bring its own priorities, survey participants described a strong and maturing foundation to build on, including numerous examples of mission and management programs that they believe should continue and receive greater emphasis, as well as others that should be reconsidered.
The survey's key findings:
While the focus groups and interview participants each defined the HSE differently depending on their mission perspectives, all agreed it extends well beyond DHS.
Intra and interagency operations are integral to each homeland security mission. More progress can be made within and across DHS and at the interagency level—either mission-specific or cross-mission—such as a reinvigorated White House Homeland Security Council to provide renewed direction and coordination of policy and mission operations at the national level throughout the HSE.
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson’s Unity of Effort initiative has been well received within DHS, particularly management initiatives such as the Joint Requirements Council. Numerous participants suggested that the new administration build on this initiative to continue the needed streamlining and integrated management and mission approach.
Overall management and oversight continue to mature and improve. There are numerous examples of excellent management practices across the HSE that should be acknowledged, examined, and replicated to continue the maturity of HSE management.
However, mission support activities continue to inhibit the ability to achieve mission, as reported by our focus groups and one hundred percent of online survey respondents.
The companies that comprise the Homeland Security Industrial Base are a significant part of the HSE, serving a valuable role that can take on many forms: innovators, thought leaders, facilitators, integrators, and solution providers of technology, services and products.