Good for business

An analysis of the results of Chertoff’s 2SR, conducted by the Civitas Group LLC, based in Washington, DC, found that realigning and flattening the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would provide clear lines of communication for private business and would trim the number of stakeholders involved in some major programs.

“Assuming the proposals are implemented, the department will be able to share more information with the private sector in a more streamlined manner,” wrote Mark Shaheen and Richard Gordon, counterterrorism experts at Civitas Group. “Additionally, technology and service providers presumably will find related programs within a more limited group of stakeholders.”

Shaheen told HSToday that Chertoff’s reorganization would make DHS more effective and responsive by aligning its responsibilities within new directorates that clearly integrate the functions that support their missions. Ultimately, Shaheen said, a better-run department will more effectively keep the nation secure.

A more effective department will also inspire support for funding homeland security initiatives from Congress and the White House, Shaheen noted, and those funds could well be dedicated to advancements and innovations developed by the private sector.

The Civitas report, titled Homeland Security’s Second Stage Review: Key Implications for the Private Sector, was published July 22 and appears to have been the first substantive analysis of Chertoff’sreorganization review. (The full text of the report is available at http://www.civitasgroup.com/reports/20050722.pdf.)

Civitas Group is an advisory and investment services firm serving clients that include Fortune 100 companies, government contractors and private investment firms. Civitas personnel include former top government officials such as Samuel Berger, former national security adviser; Warren Rudman, former Republican senator from New Hampshire; and Joe Allbaugh, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Alignment of functions

Businesses want to deal with as few people as possible when talking to government either for procurement or regulatory purposes, and 2SR implements this, Shaheen noted.

“If you make a certain kind of technology that is applicable to a number of missions and you have to go through multiple different offices for different programs, that can become a very onerous task,” he said. “You don’t know who you have to deal with, and you don’t know if separate entities are going to have separate standards.”

So, for example, dissolving the Border and Transportation Security Directorate and moving some of its agencies so that they report directly to the secretary may serve to streamline communications with those agencies.

“The reduced factionalism among these agencies will likely result in future contracts that have more of a ‘winner take all’ character to them, as DHS, heavily influenced by S&T [the Science and Technology Directorate] and the deploying organizations, selects common fundamental technologies to be more broadly deployed across the department’s many mission areas,” the report said.

These agencies would work with a Director of Operations, who would “lead the vertical implementation of specific mission areas” and bring an integrated approach to fulfilling the agencies’ individual missions.

Meanwhile, the four undersecretaries within the department after reorganization would have “horizontal support responsibilities,” along with offices such as the Screening Coordination and Operations Office, the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and the Chief Intelligence Officer.

“How these two systems are ultimately coordinated will significantly affect how procurement and service funds are spent by the department and to whom private sector vendors will need to direct business development efforts,” according to the report.

The Civitas report supported vertical integration among the agencies that would report directly to the secretary and deputy secretary. Those key agencies include the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the bureau of Customs and Border Protection, the bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, the bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and FEMA, as well as the US Coast Guard and Secret Service, both of which already report directly to top officials.

“To the extent that there are flatter lines of authority, it has become a flatter organization, which theoretically should make it a more efficient organization in that there are fewer people to go through to get approval to do things,” Shaheen said.

Horizontal integration would assist businesses as functions are aligned within directorates headed by the undersecretaries for policy, preparedness, management and science and technology, he pointed out.

Inthis regard, one of the most important aspects of the restructuring is something that did not happen: the dismantling or elimination of the S&T Directorate. “It’s very important for the private sector and very important for everyone involved in this to take a look at what Secretary Chertoff has said about Science and Technology,” Shaheen said. “It wasn’t carved up and it wasn’t downgraded and…his comments have been very supportive of the role of S&T.”

In Shaheen’s view, Chertoff and other top decision-makers at the department understand that the technology to meet many DHS objectives, both at an operational and programmatic level, does not yet exist or is not yet practical to deploy, which makes S&T a key component of the future DHS.

Evolutionary process

Shaheen cautioned that the Civitas Group’s report was an early first look at the reorganization proposals. Some of the initial conclusions could change, depending on how the department handles the reorganization and whether Congress acts on the parts that require its authority.

However, he said, 2SR is an unparalleled action from an organization of its stature.

“I’m not aware that any national security department like this has ever done such a significant restructuring without being forced to by Congress. I view this in some ways as very similar to what major corporations would do after a major merger or a major acquisition. They would wait a couple of years; they would see what is working and what is not working; and they would take a step back and look at how they need to realign systems and management structures to become more efficient and more effective.”

The proposals for restructuring are part of “an evolutionary process,” and a lot of details still must emerge on exactly how some of the changes will be implemented. In addition, Chertoff likely has many other restructuring goals that he would like to accomplish, and so smaller incremental changes will likely emerge in separate announcements over the coming year, he said.

Shaheen expects those changes to be in line with the strong foundation laid by former Secretary Tom Ridge in support of reaching out to the private sector.

“I think that one of the many positive things that Secretary Ridge did while he was there was to make a real effort to reach out to the private sector,” Shaheen said. “It was done in a lot of ways, but it was done primarily through Alfonso Martinez-Fonts’ office”— the assistant secretary for private sector coordination. “Secretary Chertoff has indicated in his remarks and his appearances that working with the private sector and all of the different things that means will continue to be a priority for the department.”

Civitas Group plans to track the implementation of the organizational restructuring in a study of the homeland security market that it will release this fall.

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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