Homeland Security News
DHS Considers Reviving Dormant Joint Requirements Council
By Stew Magnuson
Nothing is more maddening to budget hawks and government watchdogs than two different agencies setting out to purchase the same technology in separate acquisition programs.
The Defense Department has struggled with that problem for years and set up mechanisms in the now defunct Joint Operations Command to eliminate unnecessary duplications that waste taxpayer dollars.
The Department of Homeland Security, with 22 agencies brought together by congressional mandate, unsurprisingly suffers from the same problem.
In 2004, it set up a Joint Requirements Council in an effort to eliminate duplication, and sometimes, triplications of efforts within the department.
Its life was brief, though.
By 2006, its chair had been reassigned to other duties and the council stopped meeting, Charles K. Edwards, acting DHS inspector general, said before the House Homeland Security Committee’s transportation subcommittee.
For example, DHS has eight different procurement offices that purchase the various types of detection equipment that screens people, vehicles, baggage and other objects for contraband. Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration are among them. The eight components purchased $3.2 billion worth of detectors in fiscal year 2010. The IG identified $170 million worth of x-ray machines, metal detectors and hand-held devices that DHS could have purchased and their costs shared among the agencies.
“There is no mechanism in place for components to standardize equipment purchases or identify common mission requirements among components,” Edwards said.
Commodity councils are another solution. In that case, each agency supplies an expert on a particular type of technology to a group that meets to see where they can carry out joint acquisitions, he said.
Meanwhile, the department is evaluating the re-establishment of the Joint Requirements Council, he added.