Opportunity Alert: Homeland Security’s New Management Cube Initiative

Tomas OKeefe_65x85by Tomas O’Keefe, Senior Analyst

On Monday, October 28, at ACT-IAC’s Executive Leadership Conference, acting Deputy Secretary of DHS Rafael Borras (who has been the Undersecretary for Management for the past four years) unveiled DHS’s new initiative called the Management Cube. Effectively, the Cube represents the Department’s efforts to merge all of its back-office data into a single platform, so the agency can more effectively understand its day-to-day operations and identify areas of inefficiency that need to be addressed. DHS has been working on the Management Cube initiative for almost two years and is planning to unveil the initiative in January 2014.

Obviously, those of us in the world of federal information technology know that big data is one of the most talked about challenges for federal agencies. We’ve seen numerous big data initiatives, but it’s reassuring to see an agency with such a diverse mission portfolio as DHS finally take some concrete steps in putting big data to use. And where there are challenges for federal agencies, there are opportunities for federal contractors, particularly COTS vendors who offer business intelligence & analytics, data quality & management, and middleware and service oriented architecture (SOA) products. While the Department has been working on the initiative for two years, it is sure to uncover additional COTS product needs as it is rolled out across the Department.DHS

Think of the aim of the Management Cube this way – if there are extra dollars languishing somewhere in the DHS-enterprise, shouldn’t the Department find a way to put those dollars to use? Keith Trippie, who directs the Enterprise System Development Office up at DHS HQ, said that asking that first question led to a series of other questions that resulted in his group challenging the Department to start cleaning up its data and start running some serious analytics and developing dashboards to enhance DHS operations.

Trippie pointed out that there are challenges (remember, hear ‘challenges’ and think ‘opportunities’) remaining, among them change management and developing trust between different groups with the Department. But key IT challenges also remain – with many siloed, mission-oriented platforms built off of differing architecture, DHS is still struggling with getting the information in one place and ensuring the different types of structures of data can be analyzed as a whole. Another IT challenge is ensuring that the BI & analytics application developed to run these reports can do so quickly and effectively – a significant problem that will impede the goal of Management Cube to save DHS time and money.

It is most certainly worth it to reach out to Rafael Borras and Keith Trippie and see if you can assist them in enhancing the rollout of the Management Cube. Keep this fact in mind: DHS is an innovator among federal agencies and one of the first to truly take on an enterprise-wide big data initiative of this scale, so if you can help DHS succeed here, imagine the potential your solution could have across the federal government as a whole.

About Tomas O'Keefe
Tom O'Keefe has over 7 years of market research experience as an Analyst and Consultant in the federal space. He also earned an MA in Political Science from George Mason University. He has covered both civilian and defense agencies and has presented to clients ranging from junior-level associates to executives from some of the largest Systems Integrators and contractors in the federal marketplace.

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