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DHS to launch acquisition improvement project

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The Homeland Security Department will soon be launching a project to improve procurement, starting small but eventually encompassing "all of acquisition," according to Nicole Willis, a senior enterprise architect at DHS.

Willis was speaking to an audience at the 12th annual Enterprise Architecture Conference in Washington, D.C., about the department's collaborative architecture methodology. But when she was asked about the need for cross pollination of business, IT and procurement, she said that DHS is looking internally at its procurement processes -- and that's her next project.

"We're going to start a project to improve acquisition in general, but also IT acquisition specifically because we have a lot of challenges," Willis told FCW after her presentation.

Willis said she expects to start later this year or early next year. DHS is currently in the process of adding staff and is in the midst of "contract turn-over." Once the dust settles with that, Willis said, they will get moving.

"I've done some initial research, but I haven't really started it up. We're looking at all of acquisition, but IT will be one of the focus areas," Willis said.

An April a Government Accountability Office report found that budget uncertainty across DHS was hurting its acquisition shop. Program officials reported that funding instability negatively affected 17 of the 35 programs studied, contributing to schedule slips, cost growth and capability reductions, the report said.

GAO recommended that DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson better define the priorities of the agency so as to better allocate resources.

About the Author

Colby Hochmuth is a former staff writer for FCW.

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