The Department of Homeland Security, looking for help from the private sector, has six executives on loan from industry to advise on aviation security matters.
The program is modeled after similar initiatives like the Digital Service championed by Federal CTO Megan Smith and U.S. Digital Service Administrator Mikey Dickerson, in which technical experts from the private sector do tours of duty in the federal government.
"We are seeking to achieve unity of effort across the government – from department to department – and, critically, with industry as well," DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said during a March 10 Homeland Security conference hosted by AFCEA. "We should be aligned."
Mayorkas piloted a similar program as director of Citizenship and Immigration Services and is looking to translate that success to DHS's airport and travel security programs.
"One of President Obama's initiatives is to bring the best high-tech talent into the government, even for a short period of time," he said. "We hired six loaned executives from the private sector to assist us in aviation security and the facilitation of travel and tourism while maintaining the highest security safeguards."
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The executives are working in specialized areas like airline management, customer service, hotels and travel security.
They are technically on loan from their respective companies but working full time for DHS on six-month stints.
The program will allow DHS to "build a better bridge with the private sector and better understand private sector's perspective toward the work we perform," Mayorkas said.
As the program matures, Mayorkas said the department plans to "tap other key partners," with cybersecurity next on the list.