DHS plans IT center for 2005

The Homeland Security Department plans to open an information technology acquisitions center next year and is trying to improve its disjointed procurement program, DHS' chief procurement officer said today.

Speaking to a group of 300 people at a Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Vienna, Va., Greg Rothwell said the information technology acquisitions center will be part of the department's Office of Procurement Operations and will be the "central buying command for DHS." It will handle large IT purchases and centralize the management of contract vehicles, he said.

DHS is the third largest overall federal agency, and the second largest in terms of procurement spending, Rothwell said. It comprises 22 agencies with eight separate procurement offices.

Rothwell created the Office of Procurement Operations, the last of the eight offices, in August 2003. This unit manages and fulfills $2.2 billion in procurement requests for the 35 offices created by the Homeland Security Act. When those offices came into being, they had no procurement support, he said.

Rothwell also said that DHS is trying to improve its entire procurement program to ensure that its eight individual acquisitions offices perform as a single unit both internally and outwardly for the private sector. Rothwell has set up a Chief Acquisition Officers Council, consisting of himself, his new deputy procurement officer Elaine Duke and the eight acquisitions offices to help develop a single acquisition program for the department, he said.

Rothwell also created the www.dhs.gov/openforbusiness Web site, which lists the department's chief acquisition officers and presents a forecast of procurement opportunities worth more than $100,000 each.

Rothwell was hired as DHS' first chief procurement officer in July 2003 and oversees a staff of 650 and an $11 billion procurement budget. Of that amount, around $5 billion to $6 billion is spent on information technology, he said.

Of the $40.2 billion that Congress has approved for DHS for fiscal year 2005, $12 billion will be spent through the acquisition process, Rothwell said, as well as an additional $14 billion in the form of grants.

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