• Claire Grady, senior officer performing the duties of the deputy secretary and under secretary for management, addresses the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference.
     Claire Grady, senior officer performing the duties of the deputy secretary and under secretary for management, addresses the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference.

Stressing Agility for Successful Procurement Programs

September 12, 2017
By Beverly Mowery Cooper
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The DHS is looking toward a mentality of solutions, not compliance, in advancing agility and flexibility in contracting.


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is in the middle of responding to two unprecedented weather events, working with state and local governments. But very important for success has been the work and collaboration of the industrial sector, said Claire Grady, senior officer performing the duties of the deputy secretary and undersecretary for management, DHS. Industry has provided visibility, traceability and communications across the response area, and this shows what we as Americans can accomplish together, she emphasized.

The United States has a wide, diverse industrial sector that DHS relies on heavily, she related during the AFCEA International Homeland Security Conference taking place in Washington, D.C. The department needs to have the discussion about its needs and requirements and how it can work with industry. DHS needs to communicate effectively and consistency with industry, she added.

With more than 70 percent of the department's acquisition dollars related to information technology, and with the department's heavy investment in human capital, Grady said there are tremendous opportunities if the department is agile and works with industry early and often. Congress and the administration have made homeland security a priority, so it is even more important to accomplish and deliver the maximum value for every dollar, she added.

That doesn’t mean shying away from taking risk. Grady stressed that the department must be ready to accept prudent risk and also accept that not all plans will succeed. “That is what happens when you are pushing the envelope,” she allowed, stating she is open to thinking differently.

This calls for a solution-oriented mentality, not just a compliance-oriented mentality, she said. Look for opportunities to move forward. Be creative to deliver an outcome that is better.

Grady measures success by being able to deliver what is important to the end user.

Having returned to the DHS from other government roles, Grady noted that she is pleased to see the changes as the agency has truly become one organization; however, many systems are still organizationally stovepiped, adding, “We need to give industry the flexibility to come up with what makes sense.”

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