DHS to pursue flexible acquisition methods
- By Alice Lipowicz
- Feb 25, 2009
The Homeland Security Department’s new investment review process is more flexible and adaptable to the department’s needs, a DHS senior management official said today.
“We previously followed the Defense Department model,” Elaine Duke, under secretary for management at DHS, said at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association conference. “But we found that our spending does not look like the Defense Department’s.”
For example, the DOD model includes benchmarks for events such as the start of low-rate initial production. But at DHS, that model did not apply very well because the department typically buys services, often with an information technology component, Duke said.
“I have had managers say, ‘I’m spending a billion dollars on human resources, so when do I get to the initial production?” Duke said. “We were getting thrown off.”
Duke issued Acquisition Directive 102-01 on Nov. 7, 2008, which took effect immediately. It modified Management Directive 1400, the investment review process. Some initial milestones for the transition are scheduled to happen in March.
The new directive redefines milestones and expands the scope of the programs under the purview of the acquisition review board, she said. “We have broadened our focus to match how we spend our dollars.” .
The new process is intended to leverage the department’s capabilities. It creates a common acquisition process, acquisition decision authority and life-cyle framework, while delegating acquisition duties to components, whenever feasible. The directive also increases reporting on the status of programs, she added.
Duke said she is boosting the acquisition workforce to handle its increasing workload, and also strengthening the requirements development and program management processes. “We are focusing on the entire system of acquisition, not just procurement,” Duke said.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.