Can Great Strategy Help Integrate DHS?
Why is this so hard? DHS has many different missions, many agencies with different regional presences, diverse missions, and demanding stakeholders with their own mission priorities. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) originally designated the implementation and transformation of DHS as “high risk”. Challenges in Workforce Engagement, Acquisition, and Financial Management remain a priority. DHS senior leaders have collaborated to tackle the issues of strategy, resource allocation, capability requirements, operational planning, joint operations, and headquarters organizational design, and including DHS employees in these projects to increase transparency.
The collaboration and coordination of the leadership of the agencies – with focus on the workforce, mission alignment, and an integrated and transparent budget process – is strong and sustainable. The next administration must continue the existing governance structure and focus efforts on a clearer strategy, with strong measures to track and report success and areas of focus.
Transition must not just focus on learning and operational continuity. It must prioritize strategy from the beginning – with a clear framework to measure strategy implementation.
If DHS continues to invest in its workforce and provides them with the resources they need to implement strategic initiatives, it can attract the workforce of the future, and inspire them to achieve the next level of mission performance.
Nearly 14 years after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) brought together 22 distinct organizations and functions with different but related missions into one organization, it can reflect back at the successes and continued challenges. As each new DHS leader embarked on reviewing the progress, recognizing accomplishments, and setting priorities, DHS has become more integrated and more efficient.
As the next secretary takes the reigns, a clear strategy followed by excellent execution is critical to inspire its workforce, integrate efforts, and make critical leaps in mission outcomes.
A compelling strategy at the departmental level can cascade to the agencies and headquarters functions, allowing leaders of these organizations to establish flow down strategies. Integrated execution of these strategies, sponsored at the top of the department and each key agency, should be a top priority to achieve a unified effort.