The Business of Government Hour

 

About the show

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. The executives discuss their careers and the management challenges facing their organizations. Past government executives include Administrators, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Information Officers, Chief Operating Officers, Commissioners, Controllers, Directors, and Undersecretaries.

The interviews

Join the IBM Center for a weekly conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business.

Janet Hale interview

Monday, November 29th, 1999 - 20:00
Phrase: 
Janet Hale is the Undersecretary for Management for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Radio show date: 
Wed, 10/29/2003
Guest: 
Intro text: 
Managing for Performance and Results...

Managing for Performance and Results

Magazine profile: 
Complete transcript: 

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Arlington, Virginia

 

Mr. Lawrence: Good morning and welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, partner in charge of The IBM Center for The Business of Government. We created the center in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. You can find out more about the center by visiting us on the web at www.businessofgovernment.org.

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our special guest this morning is Janet Hale, undersecretary for management in the Department of Homeland Security. Good morning, Janet.

Ms. Hale: Good morning.

Mr. Lawrence: And joining us also from IBM is Anne Altman. Good morning, Anne.

Ms. Altman: Good morning.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, Janet, let's start by setting some context. Could you tell us about the Department of Homeland Security? It's creation, as I understand it, was one of the largest reorganizations in government since World War II. Give us a sense of its short history and its programs.

Ms. Hale: The department was created by Congress after President Bush proposed the department in November. The legislation was passed in November. The department itself, the corporate office as I like to say, was created January 24th. And on March 1st, 180,000 employees and 22 different agencies came in to make up the Department of Homeland Security.

Mr. Lawrence: How do you think about the size? You described it in terms of employees. Is it a budget number? Is it the mission?

Ms. Hale: I think it's -- we look at it as the mission, being sure that we have got a missioncentric concentration on protecting the United States against terrorist attacks. Obviously many of our agencies also have other traditional missions: search-and-rescue for the Coast Guard; money laundering for Secret Service; getting our citizens through in our citizens immigration service. But we're -- our primary focus is obviously homeland security.

Ms. Altman: And Janet, what are the roles and responsibilities for the undersecretary of management?

Ms. Hale: Well, it's a broad management responsibility. I have the chief financial officer, so I do the budget, the annual financial statement. I have the chief information officer, so we have IT as a major portion, obviously an integral part of the integration of the department. Chief Human Capital Office, so we�re trying to deal with the new personnel system. Maybe we can talk about that a little longer -- or later; procurement. And then, by statute, I�m responsible for integration of the department. So we have sort of a myriad of responsibilities from human resources, finances, IT, procurement.

Ms. Altman: Wow. So how many employees do you have in your office and how do they span across all of those different functions?

Ms. Hale: Well, we have about 260 is the long-term goal. Obviously like any agency or any business that�s being created there is a ramp-up phase, so we are trying to complete the hiring of my own office as well as those at the rest of the corporate offices at the same time that we�re trying to integrate the department.

Ms. Altman: Do you have a timeframe for closing in on full staffing?

Ms. Hale: Yes, yesterday would be soon enough. I think it�s terribly important, but one of the things that�s happened is that we have had to -- again, you start the department January 24th, you bring in the agencies March 1st, and obviously we have been in serious hostilities over in Iraq, so there has been a process of doing the business of setting up the department, at the same time focusing predominantly on the homeland security. So our timetables are yesterday. But what it�s been interesting to me and as I�ve looked at the GAO reports and talked to the head of GAO people say this is a 7-year process. And people have to remember that. And so I do every day sort of wonder why we haven�t gotten farther faster, but also understanding how important it is to do it right.

Ms. Altman: Absolutely, especially given that this is year one. Janet, you�ve had a broad, varied career and I think the listeners would be very interested in understanding a little bit about that career and how it brought you to your current position.

Ms. Hale: I�ve been tremendously fortunate to be given opportunities to serve in both the Reagan and Bush Administration in senior positions. And I�ve said to a couple people it�s been a path that I think led me to my current job. I�ve been the assistant secretary for budget at the Department of Transportation, where Coast Guard came from DOT, and spent a lot of time on aviation issues and TSA came from DOT. After that, I was at the Office of Management and Budget and was one of the four associate directors responsible for one-quarter of the United States� budget, and that was Justice where INS came from; Treasury where Customs came from; and then, again, DOT. So I�ve looked at the budget, the regulatory issues, the personnel issues, the legislative issues for 4 years during President Bush, Sr.�s Administration.

And then have done other jobs where I have had to do integration and major IT of sort of back office systems at the University of Pennsylvania. I was the executive vice president where I tried to at least start the restructuring of sort of financial systems, HR systems, business reengineering, and have done the same thing at the House of Representatives and at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Ms. Altman: So it makes sense, I mean, here all of those experiences not only gave you knowledge and expertise in the mission of the organizations that are coming together, but a great deal of management experience on how to pull this together and make it work.

Ms. Hale: We sure hope that�s true, but also important is the team that is with us at the Department of Homeland Security: Secretary Ridge, the other undersecretaries, and the component heads that are leading day-in and day-out the protection on the borders, at the seaports, across the country for homeland security.

Mr. Lawrence: What drew you to public service sort of the first time and then make you -- had you come back?

Ms. Hale: I think I always wanted to do it as a young civics major in high school and then college. And was fortunate to start at the state level working for a state rep in Florida just a few years ago, and then came to the federal government and have loved it.

Mr. Lawrence: Let me ask you to go through the different sectors in terms of their management style, say contrast academic versus the federal government.

Ms. Hale: Boy, I�d have a hard time doing that. There are many similarities and when I went to the University of Pennsylvania people told me it was very similar because of sort of the responsibilities of the schools as part of a university and the responsibilities and authorities of professors in that. So obviously a very traditional structure in a university that is not a command-and-control structure. And I think that�s -- those skill sets are important if you think about the federal government because you have the agencies, you have the White House, you have the Hill. And so it�s the short, small P, politics about being about to not only lead an organization, but be sure that you�re dealing with the stakeholders both inside and outside of government.

Mr. Lawrence: How about in terms of the speed of decision-making? A lot of people who come from a more traditional business background come to government and are surprised by the length the difference in speed in the private sector versus the public sector. What�s your perspective on speed of decision-making?

Ms. Hale: Well, I�ve said since -- one of the jobs I forgot to mention is I was at the Department of Housing and Urban Development even before DOT. I�ve heard that. I recognize those frustrations that people from the private sector come into the federal government and see the various stakeholders and their roles and responsibilities and this. But I�ve always said to both my own folks that I work with, my colleagues and those coming from the outside, it�s also our responsibility if we let decisions linger too long in a different level and think it�s somebody else�s fault versus saying, I always love the fact, oh, it�s over at OMB. Well, there is a way to get it out of OMB and that is the leader�s responsibility to do it or we can�t quite get it through some part of a process or we�re in negotiations with the Hill. And I think it is important, especially for homeland security, that we move those decisions rapidly because the public depends on it.

Mr. Lawrence: Yeah, I was going to ask even in your opening comments that it is part of a 7-year plan, but everything seems so important that it has to be done now, just the sort of paradox of those two kind of perspectives on time.

Ms. Hale: We don�t have any choice. The world changed September 11th, and we know it. We, every day, have to act with more vigilance than we did before September 11th. We need our agencies to be more agile in their decision-making and their ability to implement those decisions. We have tremendous men and women on the front lines doing this job day-in and day-out. They were dedicated before September 11th. They were just tremendous during that period and since then. And we need to be sure that we�re getting them the resources, the support they need to do the job because they�re the professionals out there and know how to do it.

Mr. Lawrence: As you are trying to find people to join your team are there any sets of experiences or any particular skills that you�re looking for? It�s not as though they could have been in this department somewhere else, so what is it you�re looking for?

Ms. Hale: Actually we need some of all of the above. You need the people that understand the history. We also need people that are change leaders because if you�re merging 22 agencies or parts of agencies, how do you be sure you recognize their long-term expertise, but be able to advance it and expand their roles and responsibilities to deal with the new changes to the world we�re confronting?

Mr. Lawrence: As you look at your different experiences in the different agencies you had before you came here, what -- is there a best practice or a leadership style that you�re particularly modeling things after that you sort of came away and said, you know, gee, this is the person I�m trying to kind of draw in here?

Ms. Hale: I haven�t. I probably should think about that, but I�ve been fortunate to work with some truly terrific people. And again, I have those kind of colleagues with the undersecretaries, the agency heads here. And I think what�s most important is to have the team be effective in being sure, again, we get the support for our folks on the front lines.

Mr. Lawrence: That�s an interesting point. DHS is a combination of many agencies and professionals. How does one actually manage a public sector merger? We�ll ask Janet Hale of the Department of Homeland Security when The Business of Government Hour returns.

(Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I�m Paul Lawrence and this morning�s conversation is with Janet Hale. Janet�s the undersecretary for management in the Department of Homeland Security. And joining us in our conversation is Anne Altman.

Well, Janet, let me ask the question about the background of the department again, and this time from just sort of a more management sort of setting up the organization and things that had to be done so very quickly. Tell us how that came to be.

Ms. Hale: Again, the legislation was passed in November, and we had most of the senior management team -- the secretary, the deputy secretary, the undersecretary -- selected by January 24th, when we became the department. We had to go through the sort of very simple things, like finding out where we were going to be housed, how many people would we have, how were we going to buy pencils, you know, sort of the very traditional parts of setting up an organization in the midst of a highly pressurized environment after September 11th, and obviously going into sort of the situation in the Middle East.

We had a tremendous set of responsibilities getting them ready for March 1st, which was bringing in the 180,000 people. And in a federal environment the steps that we had to take we literally had to fire 180,000 people on February 28th and rehire them on March 1st. Simple task, but as we were trying to be sure that we did nothing to disrupt those officers, those individuals on the front line, the communications strategy -- telling people why we were doing stuff, how we were going to do it, worked with our unions to be sure that they understood and could communicate to our employees -- it has been a tremendous communications challenge. And being sure that we�re listening to the employees, hearing what their concerns are, at the same time being able to support them on the front line. So we�ve really sort of worked hard at being sure that we were setting up the corporate structure and being sure we could support those frontline agencies.

Ms. Altman: Janet, so you�ve spoken about some of the corporate challenges, the communication challenge. Were there other management challenges in coordinating across the varied agencies in the Department of Homeland Security? And what have you learned from that?

Ms. Hale: Communications, communications, and communications. I don�t think there�s a more important aspect to the job than that. I�ve had the opportunity to travel across the country doing town hall meetings with our employees being sure we hear their concerns. At the same time, getting them the resources and the support they need.

There have been tremendous challenges. I mean, people have talked about it during the development of the legislation. We hear about it every day. But it is day-in and day-out sort of being sure that we�ve got our eyes set on what differences can we make to strengthen the protection of the homeland.

One success, if I could just talk a little bit about that, which is terribly important to us, you talk about integrating 22 agencies. Well, we had legacy INS, legacy Customs, and part of the agriculture inspection at our ports, at our airports. And we have just successfully completed our first training class of one border protection officer coming out of the training program. So for the first time, we have trained people at the front lines to know how to look across all of these myriad -- used to be three different agencies, we�ve got our frontline first officers trained and got them ready to go. So in 3 or 4 short months after those agencies came in we have got an organizational structure that we think makes sense out at the ports on the front lines. We�ve got the first set of employees, bringing new ones in and training our own, those on the front lines. So we�re really excited about being able to make those kind of progresses. That�s why the department was created, to take these disparate and separate organizations and be able to make a difference.

One other one, Hurricane Isabel came through Washington, D.C. FEMA was an independent agency. Coast Guard was over at the Department of Transportation. Listening to the head of the Coast Guard, the commandant of the Coast Guard, and the undersecretary for emergency preparedness, with our intelligence folks, what could we do? How could we do it? For the first time, we had all of those people under one roof be able to make a difference and be able to respond not just to the terrorist threat, to being sure that we make a difference day-in and day-out in some of our other responsibilities, like Hurricane Isabel; being prepared; going across from whether it was South Carolina up through Maryland and Virginia. So I think we can see day-in and day-out the difference of bringing these agencies together.

Ms. Altman: Those are great examples of cultural change and the impact that you�ve had in such a short time.

Mr. Lawrence: Tell us more about some of the key agencies. And I wanted to pick up on that because some of them had long traditions and deep cultures. And while that�s all great, they can be barriers to the kind of change you talk about creating. Tell us about some of those and how they were accomplished?

Ms. Hale: Two things I think we did, the leadership of both the President and Secretary Ridge, is that we celebrated the history of those agencies on March 26th, 7th, and 8th. And there is nothing more valuable to me than having sat as we lowered the INS at the Department of Justice. I�m going to have this number wrong, but I think 117 years. And if you -- there was a movie that they showed of the history of the INS. And it was people coming through Ellis Island, people on the border patrol stopping the drugs from coming in, dealing with the illegal aliens, and that flag was lowered. We celebrated that and we have welcomed them into the new organizations.

Coast Guard�s been around since 1792. Their ability to interact sitting next to each other with legacy Customs that used to have a little tension there or with INS, I think we have tried to celebrate their history and be sure that we are creating our own culture and our own set of responsibilities. And again, each time we have a short-term success towards our long-term goal I think that helps develop the culture and the history of the Department of Homeland Security.

Ms. Altman: Were there other things that you did differently, perhaps more innovatively, given that you were building a department from scratch?

Ms. Hale: Well, one of the things that I think we have tried to do differently is in the area of developing the new human resources system, and we�ve just spent a very interesting last week. But we took, in March and April, our employees want to know what their new system�s going to look like. We have got new authority and we need to implement it. We need to implement it fast, but smartly. We�re setting up an HR system for the 21st century. We took 60 people out of the field. With our field, with human resource experts, with unions, and spent almost 3 months researching what the new human resource system should be. Never been done before, having management frontline officers and unions sitting in a research pool. Came up with 52 options.

Last week, we had the Senior Review Committee, which is the agency heads, like Commissioner Bonner and then head of TSA Jim Loy (phonetic), now deputy secretary designee for the department, 3 days of publicly discussing in an open setting with outsiders, with the press listening about we�re not doing this behind a bushel basket or behind some -- we are actively engaging our employees, our unions about sort of what this should be. So it�s nontraditional in the sense of federal government, and we hope to be able to -- sometimes we�ll agree, sometimes we�ll disagree, but we�re going to do it with sort of having built the trust and the confidence of the individuals to sort of have understanding of where all of us are coming from. So maybe that�s a little nontraditional.

Mr. Lawrence: And will that be a model for major decisions that affect everything? How will the balance between sort of collaborative involvements you describe versus sort of other decisions?

Ms. Hale: Interesting, interesting question because one of the things that we talked about last week is terribly important. We are a Department of Homeland Security, and we are mission-oriented and we are somewhat driven by intelligence that we may or may not be able to share. And that�s what I talked about being agile and quick. If we determine that we need to move somebody to Seattle or we need to sort of focus our resources on preparing for something, we need to be able to be quick. That means we have to have established the relationship both with our employees, with our stakeholders to sort of say sometimes I can�t tell you what the intelligence is. I don�t think the American public want us to compromise our intelligence sources just so they can understand why we�re doing something. And we�ve been very supportive of understanding in people. But again, it is very different.

I was at the Department of Transportation and I don�t remember in my 4years of being the assistant secretary there having many conversations about sort of what was intelligence aspect on Coast Guard and FAA. You know, I surely had to, but this is really what are we learning? How can we react? How can we do things faster? So we will do it where appropriate, but we also will have to be able to react as quickly as we can to the circumstances, be it tactical, information, strategic.

Mr. Lawrence: One of the most high-profile parts of the department is airport security. And TSA is now I guess about a year old or a little longer. I�m curious from management perspective sort of what you�re learning from that experience.

Ms. Hale: I have the utmost respect for what they did in a far shorter period of time than what I have gone through in the last 9 months. Turning around with an untenable number of statutorily created deadlines, going from 0 to 45,000 people, they have done a tremendous job. Does that mean there are problems? Absolutely. We get to read about them periodically in the newspaper, but I think the speed of which we had to react again to the challenges after September 11th. But I am using it often to just sort of say, okay, well, did we learn this lesson from the TSA? But again, dedicated people on the front lines having gone through a tremendous start-up.

Mr. Lawrence: Interesting point. Management issues in this Administration are called out in the President�s Management Agenda. How�s the Department of Homeland Security doing with the management issues in the agenda? We�ll ask Janet Hale of the Department of Homeland Security when The Business of Government Hour returns.

(Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I�m Paul Lawrence and this morning�s conversation is with Janet Hale. Janet�s the undersecretary for management in the Department of Homeland Security. And joining us in our conversation is Anne Altman.

Well, Janet, in the last segment you talked about what was going on at the department in the area of human capital, that the department had brought a great deal of employees over and they also had some flexibility in dealing with the HR system. You described how you had studied and you�ve convened people and you�re getting ready to sort of work this through. I�m curious from a strategic perspective if you could sort of outline sort of how it�s being thought about and maybe some sort of sense of sort of what the road forward will look like knowing that it�s still kind of underway.

Ms. Hale: I think that it is tremendously important as we talked a little bit about. We will need to make the final decisions. We will go through the normal government process of proposing and notice of proposed rule-making. We will take comment. But what we have tried to do all through this process is be sure that we are communicating both with our employees and our stakeholders. Because one of the things that we are tremendously concerned about, and I keep mentioning it, is obviously in any organization with the kind of change our employees are going through we want to be sure that we�re continuing to talk to them, understanding, discussing with them the issues, and being sure that if we make changes, which I think we will, that they understand why and how it impacts them.

So strategically as we move forward we want to be sure that we are implementing what we call the 21st century pay system, the 21st century rules with our labor relations and how we deal with grievances and -- but we need, again, because of the mission of this department, we need the flexibilities that Congress in its wisdom gave us. And we need to be sure that we�re continuing to involve our employees, discuss with them, and be sure that as they move forward they understand not only why, but we listen to them about how to do it.

Mr. Lawrence: Are other agencies talking to you? I seem to think that many people are watching what kind of plays out to probably learn from in lots of different ways.

Ms. Hale: You know, the Department of Defense has got legislation pending and so obviously both Defense and DHS are the two frontrunners. There have been many people that have talked about this, is this a model? I�d be proud to have anybody use the model we�ve used with the involvement of everybody because I think it will be a better product. So what we ultimately decide as the leadership and the secretary and the director of OPM make about sort of what are what is the 21st century personnel rules I think will be models for others to use. And I hope that they use the model of inclusion as we have done because I think it will make the decisions better as we go forward to implement it.

Because change, you�ve heard me say a couple times, is not easy and the pay and personnel rules have been around for a long time. Our federal employees are very comfortable knowing those. And so we�ll have to be sure they understand why we want, if we choose, to move to a pay-for-performance system, for example. How do you measure it? How do you deal with it? What kind of trust and relationship do they have with the employees to the managers? How will we hold our managers accountable for this? Huge implementation issues, again, being sure that we get the flexibilities, we implement the right system, and be sure that we maintain the security at the front lines of our borders. So strategically great plans with communications and involvement throughout all of them.

Ms. Altman: Janet, you have many challenges that you�re facing and many of those will be addressed, in part, with information technology. So I�d like to know a little bit about how you�re dealing with information technology. What do you have for plans to integrate your legacy systems in support of the new department and how might that play to E-government?

Ms. Hale: A couple -- I break it up into three, four, or five segments each time I talk about this, but the first one I think is being sure that our systems talk to each other. We have E-mail. We�re excited that we can talk to our employees. And you asked before about one of our early successes. I think actually being able to talk to our 180,000 employees, those that are hooked up, is important and we�ve made major strides in that.

We need to be sure -- part of this department was created to get better front line protection, but maybe take some of the redundancies out of it. So we�re doing a lot with sort of how do we integrate our infrastructure, you know? Sort of do we have the right sort of infrastructure and can we take some of the redundancies out of there? What�s the right structure? How do we do that?

We also have to look at our sort of back office functions, a new financial management system. We will obviously need a new HR system to implement the kind of system that I think we will ultimately develop. But we also have to be sure that we�re integrating the mission focus. So we�ve got sort of how do we have our border patrol, three separate legacy IT systems talking to each other? And then what do we do with our external partners, particularly in the intelligence world, talking to the FBI and CIA and all the other of the myriad of the initials, the agencies that are so critical to us? So we sort of look at it as sort of the infrastructure, our administrative systems, and then our mission critical, trying to establish those priorities, get dedicated teams of men and women to implement it once we�ve got strong business requirements from those frontline managers and agency heads.

Ms. Altman: And as you look at this, how are your budget priorities then linked overall to the President�s Management Agenda?

Ms. Hale: A couple things. We have, one, we are in the process of completing our strategic plan, which is usually the first step is you get the strategic plan. What we are also completing is trying to sort of get what are the measures of effectiveness, not just a budget number? You know, it�s sort of easy and the federal government sort of says I need 10 percent more. Well, why and what are the outcomes that we�re going to get from that? So struggling? That has not happened often in a law enforcement environment. And so it�s trying to be sure that we can drive forward with that.

So we�re looking, first, to sort of complete our strategic plan, being sure that we can measure the outcome of those dollars that we have actually asked for. We are so fortunate and I thank Congress every day that we are the only appropriations bill that has been signed. We had one October 1st, so we do not need to deal with a continuing resolution. We have new money to make a difference in sort of homeland security. And so now we�re about the business of sort of dealing with the operational plans and then start in FY �05.

Ms. Altman: And what about financial management? What plans do you have to improve financial management according to the President�s Management Agenda?

Ms. Hale: Two things. We are trying to complete our current financial management -- our audit, and we�re in the midst of that. We�re going to do it faster, you know. OMB has got a target of getting it done. We have trying to accelerate that so that we set up this system, set up this department, getting it done by November, December. And we�re very excited about being able to do that. Lots of dedicated people in our financial, both in my own office and in the components, driving with our inspector general and our outside auditors who are really excited about sort of being able to set this up right the first time rather than having to make changes as we go along.

We are currently looking at integration of our financial management systems across the department. We�ve got a great project manager that we have hired and we are starting the business of getting the financial system that will actually integrate the department, get us the business information we need to make business decisions, not just give us accounting data or budget data.

Mr. Lawrence: I was going to ask you, what does a clean opinion mean in an organization that�s so new?

Ms. Hale: That�s an interesting question. I actually asked that at the beginning. Two things. It�s terribly important I think for us to have a baseline. So what you have is different standards of different departments with different auditors that had looked at this in the past. So we now have got common department, common agencies, and we have a baseline of which we can sort of say, okay, we�ve now got, we understand sort of -- 6 months into this, the interesting part of this is that the agencies that came from Treasury, Justice, or Transportation, they got to be audited by their donating department as well as their receiving department. And that is because of the nature of sort of saying what happened in this fiscal year?

But we think it�s terribly important to have established that discipline, have that information so that we then can move forward in dealing with if we have any material weaknesses, getting that established priority. Where do we put our resources? Where are our problems as we are trying to set up? Not that I think we�ll have any, but, you know, again, always optimistic. But we are in the process right now of doing the audit with our outside auditors and our inspector general and terribly important, again, to have that baseline information as we move forward.

Mr. Lawrence: The last area of the President�s Management Agenda we haven�t covered is competitive sourcing. Could you tell us about the department�s plans in the area of competitive sourcing?

Ms. Hale: Sure. We have completed our inventory. We are establishing the infrastructure to deal with as we actually have one sourcing initiative underway in the Bureau of Citizens and Immigration Services. And again, find that this is an important priority as a management tool as we move forward to integrate the department.

Mr. Lawrence: But how about dealing with these sort of inherently governmental decisions that people have to make when they go through competitive sourcing? One might think this is a very important governmental function and, therefore, it might not even be relevant or

Ms. Hale: But again, with any it there are processes that are not internally governmental functions. We are not ever going to sort of go out and go through a competitive sourcing for something that is inherently in the intelligence world and sort of making the final decisions on what immigration person comes in -- what immigrant comes into this country. We will retain and feel very strongly about the inherently governmental because we can�t compromise security in this regard. But we can look at are there processes and are there sets of employees that we need to look at just to be sure that, in fact, we�ve got the most streamlined processes? And I think that�s one of the tools that we will use.

Mr. Lawrence: Interesting point. The mission of DHS is clear as it says in its name, yet it�s often said that homeland security is everyone�s job. How does DHS coordinate all of those involved in this important issue? We�ll ask Janet Hale of the Department of Homeland Security when The Business of Government Hour returns.

(Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I�m Paul Lawrence and this morning�s conversation is with Janet Hale. Janet�s the undersecretary for management in the Department of Homeland Security. And joining us in our conversation is Ann Altman.

Ms. Altman: Janet, although the Department of Homeland Security obviously has the primary responsibility for homeland security there are many others, many other departments, agencies, organizations that are involved in that effort. Can you tell us a little bit about the relationships your department has created with both government agencies and other organizations to ensure the coordination?

Ms. Hale: Sure. Terribly important, we are the federal agency, but there are so many other of our partners and this is a national issue. So if you think about it and you look through our federal agencies, Department of Defense, the FBI, the CIA, Department of Health and Human Services as they sort of deal with the bioterrorism and we have been a strong partner with their research and our funding of that. So I am tremendously excited about sort of the cooperation and the collaboration that we have with our federal partners.

And even more so, if you look at where the true front line is, is that�s our state and local partners. And we have had I think tremendous success in getting the resources, thanks to Congress, to be able to help facilitate and fund some of the priorities at the state and local levels. We�re very excited about being able to try and move forward to one-stop shopping before the federal government had money going from legacy FEMA or legacy Justice programs or legacy someplace. And what we�re trying to do is sort of be sure that we have state and local plans, that our resources get out to them in a coordinated effort, and so that we can sort of look at what are the priorities. Where are the high threats? How can we be sure our resources are matching with our local expertise from our state and local -- so the partnerships with the governors, with our mayors, with the National Guard, we have I think spent a tremendous first year continuing to build on that relationship.

And then again, it is every citizen. I mean, we sort of -- those that go through the TSA screening every day, I mean, it is a national issue that we need absolutely everybody involved in. And we are excited about the progress that we�ve made with our partners in this last year.

Ms. Altman: And what would you say are some of the challenges in the coordination across these many organizations?

Ms. Hale: Well, if you look at it they, too, are struggling with this new mission post-September 11th. Interoperable communication, being sure that sort of funding, personnel, the ability to interact, being sure that they, like us, are establishing the priorities. Port security is hugely important. How do we move forward, again, with our partners in sort of any of those areas? Because again, we don�t know where the bad guys are coming at us next and we need to be sure that we�re prepared, they are as agile, we are coordinated.

We spend a lot of time talking to our partners. We�ve just had all of the homeland security advisors for the governors in for 3 days to talk to our intelligence and infrastructure protection area with the rest of the department coming because, again, what we�re doing and what they�re doing, communication is terribly important. And what resources do they need? What information do they need from us? And how can we attack this from a national level, from all levels and all sectors?

Ms. Altman: Are there regularly scheduled coordination meetings with the various stakeholders?

Ms. Hale: We have -- yeah, we have -- I think in the infinite wisdom of the creation of the department was have a person that reports to the secretary that is responsible for state and local affairs, and so they are in constant communication. Actually there�s a private sector liaison, Al Martinez Fons (phonetic), that has dealt I think with sort of the business community, trying to be sure of sort of how they can best help. What are our priorities? How can we help?

Our science and technology directorate, the undersecretary sort of what is the next generation of equipment of technology that we need to do a better job. So undersecretary for science and technology� undersecretary for intelligence, assurance, and infrastructure protection; dealing again, with their counterparts. So daily, hourly, that is the important part about having all sector from the national perspective, whether it�s business, private sector, federal agencies, state and local, we have had tremendous outreach to those people ad will continue to.

Mr. Lawrence: We�ve spent a lot of time this morning talking about the challenges that came from the transition and setting up, but shortly that will be over. So I�m curious what are the next wave of challenges that you�re thinking about?

Ms. Hale: Again, what technology do we need? What�s the next threat? Can we assess the threat? Can we be agile enough? Again, that�s the importance of our Science and Technology Division. What technology is out there? How fast can we get it deployed? How do we move forward? So it is, again, continuing to be assessing the threat and being able to respond to it as quickly as we can. And so today�s threat may be one thing, tomorrow�s is the next, and that�s sort of, again, the agility that we�ll need as we move forward.

Ms. Altman: Janet, you�ve been in your position now 9 months. What has been the biggest surprise or surprises that you�ve encountered in your new job?

Ms. Hale: I�m not sure it�s a surprise, but I would tell you I am tremendously pleased, if you heard anything during the debate, when you read the newspaper stories about the cultural barriers, and you started with the question about sort of the long history of these agencies, the breaking down of the perceived barriers in Washington and on the field. And the level of understanding of our agencies and what it takes to move forward is just really I think exciting for me. I have yet to find a cultural barrier that�s stopped us from moving forward because the mission is so critical and the employees so dedicated to it that we often check sort of those perceived issues at the door and are able to work through them. So I�m excited about sort of the level of serious dedication of our agencies and our employees, and I expected it and I have not been surprised.

Mr. Lawrence: You�ve had a long career in public service. And so I�m curious, what advice would you give someone interested in joining government?

Ms. Hale: I�d do it in a heartbeat; no more rewarding opportunity; I think an opportunity to have greater responsibility earlier in their career. I worked for United States Senator Elizabeth Dole, who often said public service is a noble profession, and there is none higher for me. And I have loved each and every opportunity of it and would encourage anybody as a youth to think about this.

Mr. Lawrence: That�s a good point to end on. I want to thank you, Janet. Ann, I want to thank you for squeezing us in in your busy schedule.

Ms. Hale: Thank you.

Ms. Altman: Thank you.

Ms. Hale: And I would just like to thank you and encourage any and all of your listeners that as they have questions about us, please contact our website. Be active and involved in their own participation in the national security of our country.

Mr. Lawrence: Thank you, Janet. This has been The Business of Government Hour featuring a conversation with Janet Hale, undersecretary for management in the Department of Homeland Security. Be sure and visit us on the web at businessofgovernment.org. There you can learn more about our programs and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness, and you can also get a transcript of today�s very interesting conversation. Once again, that�s businessofgovernment.org.

This is Paul Lawrence. Thank you for listening.

Janet Hale interview
10/29/2003
Janet Hale is the Undersecretary for Management for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

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