DHS to hire 170 IT employees during next 18 months

Projects include infrastructure and data center consolidation

The Homeland Security Department is on track to nearly double its information technology workforce during the next 18 months, to about 350 employees, as it seeks to improve coordination among its 22 agencies, DHS Chief Information Officer Richard Spires said today.

The department now has about 180 IT employees, up from 100 IT workers last year, Spires said at a breakfast meeting hosted by the AFCEA's Bethesda, Md. chapter .

By Oct. 1, Spires said he expects a roster of about 220, and by Oct. 1, 2011, he anticipates having about 350 employees.

Currently, about 700 contractor IT workers assist the government staff, and Spires said he is examining the mix to ensure the right skills are on staff. He declined to say how far he might reduce the contracting support work.

“We need technology expertise within the government, including systems engineering and program management skills,” Spires said. “When we get up to 350 to 400 employees in the next several years, it will change the dynamic.”

DHS has been modernizing its infrastructure and consolidating its data centers, among other IT projects and the goal is to reduce from 24 data centers to two. Five centers have closed, and six more are on schedule to shut down this year, Spires said.

With the completion of the first Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, which identifies five key mission areas of the department, Spires said he is focused on developing and managing the hundreds of IT systems supporting those “diverse, but interrelated” missions.

“All of DHS’ five mission areas cross boundaries,” Spires said. “How do we get better at cross-organizational cooperation? I think we have to look hard at governance.”

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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