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.
For its part, DHS generally agrees with the GAO's recommendations.
"As with other federal agencies, DHS faces challenges in building and sustaining a capable acquisition workforce, and, as the youngest and in many ways most visible Department, DHS faces even steeper challenges in this regard," the department's chief procurement officer Thomas W. Essig wrote in a letter to GAO.
"Federal contracting has grown exponentially in the last five years. While contributing to that growth, this Department has failed to put resources into staffing and planning-thereby paving the way for waste," said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. "During the Committee's most recent acquisition process hearing, we revealed that tens of millions of taxpayer dollars had been wasted on major acquisitions."
"We look forward to working with the new administration to increase the number of federal acquisition personnel and the quality of the training they receive," Thompson added.
No pressure, governor, no pressure.
| November 20, 2008; 9:30 AM ET
Categories: Agencies and Departments
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