On April 30, DHS announced the results of the first 30 days of the ongoing “Efficiency Review”. Notably absent from the list of money-saving measures was any mention of how a unified DHS culture can promote effectiveness, efficiency and of course, cost savings. Instead, many of the items referenced in the press release are relatively simple cost-cutting measures. Despite Secretary Napolitano’s confirmation hearing pledge to “work to create a unified vision for this agency”, there is no sign that the Efficiency Review will be used as a tool to advance this very important concept – and that’s a missed opportunity.
However, there is ample opportunity use the Efficiency Review to put forth some big efficiency concepts that advance a common culture within DHS — and here’s to hoping that Secretary Napolitano and her management team will use all of the remaining three milestones — 60 days, 90 days, and 120 days — to do this. Of course, to do this, she and her leadership team will need to break down some of the silos that currently exist in DHS.
Sec. Napolitano and her leadership team will need to make a compelling case on why specific cross-enterprise capabilities might best be managed centrally, stressing the “what’s in it for me” when making the case to the DHS components. Many examples of possible cost savings exist, and deserve thorough investigation: consolidating office space leases across the country and centrally managing them; identifying common requirements for tactical communications across DHS law enforcement entities, and building an enterprise-wide system that is both modern and interoperable; and unifying HSPD-12 implementation activities, and administering them centrally, are just a few examples of how DHS could not only save money through economics of scale, but also save overhead by eliminating component-by-component administrative expenses.
Prior efforts to centrally manage cross-DHS capabilities have failed, largely because they were explained poorly, or the economic case could not be made. However, this Efficiency Review provides ample opportunity for Secretary Napolitano’s team to not only find economics of scale, but also seize on management opportunities to build the organization in to a more cohesive whole. Doing so is in the best interests of DHS, the nation’s coffers, and all citizens.