Homeland Security Department Will Need Time To Come Together

Management expert says merging 22 federal agencies into single department could take five to 10 years.
One of the nation's leading management experts told the government's top IT officials on Tuesday that it could be five to 10 years before the merger of 22 federal agencies into the new Department of Homeland Security will completely take hold.

Still, the government should realize significant results from the new department within a year or two, said James Champy, chairman of Perot Systems' consulting practice and author of the just published "X-Engineering The Corporation" (Warner Business Books, 2002).

Champy appeared with Mark Forman, associate director for IT and E-government at the White House Office of Management and Budget, on a two-person panel at a conference sponsored by the Industry Advisory Council, an IT trade group. Among the questioners in the audience was federal Homeland Security CIO Steve Cooper, who asked Champy for advice in merging the 22 agencies as well as the newly created Transportation Security Agency into the new department.

"I once was a believer in real, radical movements," said Champy, an early proponent of re-engineering. But, he noted, the government can't start from scratch in creating the Homeland Security department. "You can't just blow them up and start over with a clean sheet," he said. "Faced with the complexity you have, you must step back, look at the pieces, and determine where are the leverage points" -- areas where the new department can best unify systems and processes -- "and then drive like heck and focus. If you can do that, you can pull along the rest of the enterprise in five to 10 years."

Homeland security has begun to take that step back for review, as the agencies to be merged have been mapping their business and technology architectures that will help identify the leverage points Champy says are so important.

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