DHS authorization could give acquisition a boost

The DHS authorization bill making its way through the House would help the agency make more progress sorting out its acquisition processes, a Capitol Hill oversight committee official said.

Wikimedia image: Michael Thomas McCaul, Sr. (U.S. Representative for Texas's 10th congressional district)

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) is pushing legislation that would authorize DHS for the first time since 2002 and clean up convoluted congressional oversight.

A House bill that would officially authorize the Department of Homeland Security is set for a floor vote on July 20, according to Ryan Consaul, staff director of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Oversight and Management Efficiency subcommittee.

Rep. Michael McCaul, (R-Texas), introduced the DHS Authorization Act of 2017 on June 8, in hopes of helping the agency navigate complex oversight from Capitol Hill. In a June mark-up session, McCaul said the bill would streamline offices with overlapping duties, cut unnecessary positions and better outline respective responsibilities within the agency.

Congress hasn’t authorized DHS since 2002.

If the bill passes the full House, companion legislation in the Senate sponsored by Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) could give the effort more support. “I’m confident” the Senate effort will be successful, Consaul said at a July 19 Bloomberg Government panel on program management and acquisition.

Consaul said the official authorization also will help the agency to clean up its sometimes-messy acquisition process. “It’s a great time to focus on program management” and acquisition at the agency, he said.

Newly installed DHS Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke, Consaul said, is focused on improving program management practices. Duke has been at DHS since early spring.

Consaul said McCaul has been working on a memorandum of understanding with other House committees charged with oversight of the sprawling agency. As many as 100 committees, subcommittees and congressional caucuses have DHS oversight responsibilities, which can consume a great deal of the agency's time and attention addressing.

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