Coordination and interagency cooperation are still the ideals that the Department of Homeland Security will be striving for when Donald Trump takes office, a new report has found.
"Charting the Future: A Mission Driven Homeland Security Enterprise," charts the status of DHS's mission activities, from immigration and border security to interagency operations and management.
The Homeland Security & Defense Business Council report—the second in a five-year series examining the agency called the 20/20 Project on the Homeland Security Enterprise—drew insights from a mix of online surveys, focus groups and one-on-one interviews with 100 industry and government officials.
The research was conducted ahead of the presidential election, but Grant Thornton’s Phil Kangas, who partnered on the report, said that regardless of the outcome, DHS is on the precipice of change with a new president.
"We wanted to understand what is really working well today that needs to be continued, what needs to be stopped that’s maybe not working so well and what should be started in the new administration," he said.
The report focused on the mission structures of immigration, border security, interagency operations and management of the homeland security enterprise.
The respondents largely acknowledged that Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson’s Unity of Effort campaign to promote component agency cooperation has produced positive results, but called for more cross-agency communication to achieve mission goals, including continuing the work of Johnson’s Joint Requirements Council, which examines department needs and best practices.
On immigration, respondents called for more interagency coordination on policy and operations. A focus group examining the subject said the next administration should focus on three areas:
Governance to support coordination across immigration and border security
Improved policy on IT system development and management
Greater emphasis on workforce development and planning, alongside better succession planning.
When it came to border security, respondents said DHS needs better tools, smarter investment and close interagency coordination on mission goals.
Industry officials said they feel communication is improving with the department as a result of Unity of Effort, but could still benefit from increased coordination from across component agencies.
Kangas said that the agency had several avenues where it could pursue more cooperation, but it was vital that the Trump administration capitalize on the current momentum and not try to completely reorganize the department upon entering office.
"As we look across the organizational, human capital and acquisition challenges, there are clear areas of focus and there are clear areas of opportunity for the department to make real change," he said.
"The important thing is to not turn their back on the good work through the collaboration and the Unity of Effort and the interagency work that’s been done to date in driving towards better results, but building on those success stories, like the Joint Requirements Council on better employee engagement. Those are the types of things we are hoping to uncover here."
The report can be found