DHS restructures IT workforce

DHS tries to strike a balance between federal workers and contractors

The Homeland Security Department is restructuring its workforce to achieve a more even balance between federal information technology personnel and contractors.

When Richard Spires, DHS’ chief information officer, came on board a year ago, his organization had about 100 employees and 900 contractors, Spires told attendees during a conference on public-sector data centers Aug. 31 in Washington, D.C. The conference was sponsored by DataCenter Dynamics.

“Right now we are looking to rebalance that workforce in my organization and many parts of DHS,” Spires said, noting that some other DHS components have their own CIOs who do not report to him.

“We’re making progress,” he said. Now his organization has about 240 employees, and he wants to reach 350 by this time next year. It’s not an issue of lacking confidence in contractors, he added. Rather, the rebalancing is about identifying what is best done by federal employees versus tasks that are best performed by contractors.

Incidentally, Spires noted he had been on the job for exactly one year as of Aug. 31. Some people wondered if that would happen “because I’m the eighth CIO at DHS in eight years,” Spires said. “So I’m already past the tenure of past CIOs,” which he said might give an indication of the nature of the job.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

Reader Comments

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 Barry Virginia

While moving pieces around on the chess board of government vs. contractor personnel may make the CIO feel better, I would submit that the challenges DHS faces stem more from a paucity of clear thinking and innovation than an imbalance in where the pay checks come from. DIA, for example, met its need to share information across its worldwide community by focusing its efforts on well structured content, allowing each of its 15 units to participate as it saw fit. That flash of genius on the part of VAdm Jacoby in 2002 represented a willingness to think outside the box. That doesn't come with changing the mix of personnel, but from the creation of an environment in which real innovators feel free to hatch ideas without the threat of censure or discipline.

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