Walker: DHS needs chief management officer

Integrating the 22 agencies of the Homeland Security Department into a cohesive department requires the services of a new chief management officer for a minimum term of five years, according to Comptroller General David Walker.

Congress officially established the department in 2002, and it began operating in March 2003. Despite having an undersecretary for management, DHS would benefit from appointment of a new chief management officer for a five- to seven-year term, Walker told the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia on Dec. 13.

"DHS faces significant management and organizational transformation challenges as it works to protect the nation from terrorism and simultaneously establish itself," Walker said. With 180,000 employees and multiple management systems, DHS has yet to establish robust planning, management and operations, he said.

"DHS continues to lack not only a comprehensive management integration strategy with overall goals and a timeline, but also a dedicated team with the authority and responsibility to help develop and implement this strategy. A Chief Operating Officer or Chief Management Officer at the appropriate organizational level at DHS, with a term appointment, would provide the elevated senior leadership and concerted and long-term attention required to marshal this effort," Walker said.

Walker said that Homeland Security and Defense are most in need of such new positions, but other federal agencies would benefit from the appointments as well to address long-term issues such as organizational performance, integration and business transformation.

Appointment of a new chief management officer at DHS, if it goes forward, could have a positive influence on planning and implementation of major federal contracting projects at the department, especially those projects involving integration and business transformation.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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