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Thursday, September 18, 2014

DHS management chief nominee's approach is data centric

As Russell Deyo sailed through his nomination hearing Wednesday to be the next undersecretary for management at the Homeland Security Department, his management approach and priorities centered on data.

The retired Johnson & Johnson executive told Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs lawmakers that getting DHS to have standard financial data will lead to better and more strategic decision making.

If confirmed, Deyo would replace Rafael Borras, who left in February after more than four years on the job.

DHS reached a milestone in 2013 when, for the first time ever, it received an unqualified opinion from auditors for its financial management processes.

Deyo said he recognizes that accomplishment and wants to make sure DHS doesn't slip back from there. 

At the same time, he said the next step toward better financial management has to happen sooner than later.

"The next big piece, as far as I can see so far, is we need to have a fully integrated financial management system across all the components. You have to have reliable information, so you can make smart budget decisions and have good analytics to make good strategic decisions. And having ledger sheets that don't match up, and you can't compare apples to apples across the groups, makes it very, very difficult to make informed, strategic decisions," Deyo said. "I think it's critical the agency have a long-term focus, and you can't do that if you don't have reliable data. So that is an existent high priority within the finance group and indeed the leadership of the department, and I strongly embrace that."

He said during his time at Johnson & Johnson, having a common financial system was essential in making strategic decisions.

DHS is heading down a path toward reducing the number of financial management systems used by the agency. Right now, there are 13 separate systems, but three components are moving to Interior's National Business Center, including the Transportation Security Administration and the Coast Guard.

-Jason Miller, FederalNewsRadio.com

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