New Approach to DHS’ Science and Tech Unit To Make Agency More Agile

Secretary Nielsen Speaks at 2018 CIPAC Meeting

Secretary Nielsen Speaks at 2018 CIPAC Meeting. Photo: Jetta Disco/DHS OPA

A directorate within the Homeland Security Department is undergoing a new organizational structure that splits the directorate into four primary offices with the goal of  improving its speed.

The revamped Science and Technology Directorate will make the agency more agile and responsive, and allow it to rapidly transfer capabilities to where they are needed most, DHS said.

“We are engaging our DHS acquisition colleagues earlier in the R&D process to help pave the way for a successful transition of capabilities to our customers as well as to the homeland security marketplace,” said William N. Bryan, the senior official performing the duties of the undersecretary for science and technology. “Our emphasis is on clarity, transparency, and staying open to new ideas. Scientific and engineering excellence is at the core of everything we do.”

DHS’ approach has three aspects:

Understanding customers’ needs through strategic and transparent engagement, using S&T’s expertise in operational analysis and systems engineering to help customers refine their needs.

Having a team-based approach that leverages S&T’s capabilities, beginning with seeking out ready-made or easily adaptable solutions that can be delivered quickly and cost-effectively.

Efficient, transparent and accountable execution when a solution must be adapted or developed.

To reach these goals, S&T has reorganized into four offices that will work collaboratively:

The Office of Mission & Capability Support will conduct the majority of program management in support of borders, immigration, maritime, first responders, detection capabilities, and physical and cybersecurity.

The Office of Engineering & Science will include operations and requirements analysis, systems engineering, standards, technology scouting, test and evaluation, and transition.

The Office of Innovation & Collaboration will focus on industry and international partnerships, and include efforts such as the Silicon Valley Innovation Program, Federally Funded Research & Development Centers, university programs and collaboration with national labs.

Former DHS innovation official Jennifer Hoover who’s now senior director of digital strategy and innovation Array Information Technology, Inc., said she was encouraged by the news of S&Ts refresh.

“It is exciting to see DHS S&T continue to drive innovation forward by focusing on meeting mission needs through direct R&D and working closely with acquisitions and procurement with this reorganization,” she told WashingtonExec. “As the former deputy director in the Office of Venture and Innovation, we were always working toward innovation and were component-focused, helping to get good technology in the hands of the mission operators through the various offices of information technology at the component level. Working directly with the components and industry can only ensure the mission operators are able to successfully complete their mission.”

RelatedJennifer Hoover Joins ARRAY as Senior Director of Digital Strategy and Innovation

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