Making Strategic Decision-Making a Priority for Transition
Perpetual sequestration or a budget windfall? Slow start up or rapid focus on Presidential priorities? Agency reorganization or status quo throughout the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)?
November’s presidential election may produce a range of outcomes so varied in its implications for DHS that it poses a challenge for agencies that are in the throes of planning for the transition.
What we do know is that a clear set of priorities is essential, regardless of the outcome. In other words, starting Day One, strategic decision-making is absolutely essential to the continued success of the Department’s mission and must be a focus for the transition teams.
While DHS will never be able to exert control over its external environment, its leadership can take steps to account for long-term uncertainty through the use of strategic decision-making. Department leadership is likely already investing in dedicated, engaged coordination with the Administration’s transition planning bodies, which include the President’s Management Council and the White House Transition Coordinating Council. DHS and its components should also make every effort to support their representatives of the Agency Transition Directors Council, which is responsible for shaping an interagency transition approach.
In parallel to its efforts alongside the Administration’s transition planning bodies, the Department should develop an explicit strategic plan to guide its transition. The plan could involve four components.
- Leaders must determine what a “smooth” transition would look like, and use that discussion to establish concrete and measurable goals
- Planners must determine what factors could serve as impediments to those goals
- Planners should develop comprehensive mitigation plans and strategies to address the risks and challenges identified in the second step
- To put the plan into action, DHS’s strategic planners must assign responsibility for implementing the mitigation plan
A concrete and specific strategic plan, alongside interagency coordination, is critical to DHS’s ability to continue its record of success for the homeland security mission. DHS can and should position itself now to enter 2017 prepared for any outcome.