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Federal Eye: Napolitano Faces Contracting Challenges at DHS

Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-Ariz.) is President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to serve as secretary of homeland security. Should she be nominated and confirmed, she faces challenges well beyond border security, airport security and collective bargaining rights for TSA employees. A new report by the General Accountability Office issued yesterday demonstrates that the department still lacks the proper planning and staff to handle its roughly $12 billion worth of government contracts.

Homeland Security “has not developed a comprehensive strategic acquisition workforce plan” and “lacks documented performance goals and implementation steps” for its current contract acquisitions. “Without developing this foundation, DHS will not be in a position to effectively monitor and evaluate implementation of these initiatives,” the report reads.

This all basically means that DHS has not done enough to set contracting standards and does not have enough members for its contract acquisition workforce, which is responsible for identifying, buying and overseeing contracts for the department. Such employees manage contracts including the Coast Guard’s Integrated Deepwater System, or large computer systems or other programs. The GAO acknowledges that the department has made progress in recruiting, hiring and training an acquisition workforce. It established an internship program earlier this year, for example, that led to the hiring of 49 contract specialists in September.

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Profile Photo I.J

We need to be a little bit more patient with DHS. Everyone needs to understand that DHS is just a five-year old agency created after 9/11. There is still a lot to learn and I know that every DHS employee (including I) works feverishly to accomplish a myriad of goals. Are we going to get to the point where we will get everything right and satisfy everyone? Maybe…Maybe not. Until then please allow the agency to do its work.