Chief Procurement Officer Soraya Correa, who steadily led Department of Homeland Security contracting through the uncertain telework transition from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, is retiring at the end of this month.
In a June 29 email to employees first reported Tuesday by Federal News Network, Correa, who has worked at DHS since 2003 and served as CPO since 2015, called retirement “truly a bittersweet moment, but the time is right for me and for my family.”
“It has been an honor and a privilege to be a member of this amazing department and to have worked with all of you and your predecessors over the last 18 years,” Correa wrote. “When I started working for the federal government in October 1980 as a GS-4 clerk typist in construction contracts, I never imagined that I would spend the next 40+ years in federal service working at a variety of agencies, serving so many critical missions and working alongside such dedicated individuals.”
Correa worked collaboratively with many sectors including the nonprofit sector and HSToday’s owners, the Government Technology & Services Coalition. With her leadership, DHS embarked on numerous new initiatives to educate and enhance the procurement staff at the department including Reverse Industry Days, the Acquisition Innovations in Motion (AIiM) framework, and a general openness to share the goals and vision of the department with industry.
“We were always very happy to work with Soraya and her staff. She was always willing to talk and engage with us — and try new things — to improve communications and outcomes,” said Carolyn Muir, chair of the Government Technology & Services Coalition’s Acquisition and Procurement Workgroup and senior vice president at GTSC member Steampunk.
Correa oversees nine heads of contracting activity and a 1,400-member procurement workforce, and her initiatives have included the Procurement Innovation Lab (PIL), which launched in 2015 and determines how innovative procurement techniques lower barriers for small and non-traditional businesses, encourage competition, shorten the time to award, and increase the likelihood of successful contract performance.
“At the senior leadership level, our responsibility is to continue to set the tone, maintain consistent support, and provide trust that creates a learning culture where our procurement teams feel more comfortable taking smart risks to improve outcomes for the DHS mission,” Correa wrote in the PIL’s Fiscal Year 2019 Yearbook: Coaching Innovation.
Correa also has grown and enhanced the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, Homeland Security Acquisition Institute, the Acquisition Professional Career Program, and the Strategic Sourcing Program Office during her tenure.
Before serving as CPO, she was head of contracting activity for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and associate director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Enterprise Services Directorate. Her career also includes leadership roles at Naval Sea Systems Command, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Correa was awarded the 2018 Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Service and her recognition also includes the Secretary’s Award for Excellence.