DHS management chief Borras to return to private sector

Rafael Borras, the undersecretary for management at the Homeland Security Department, is stepping down after almost four years on the job.

Rafael Borras, the undersecretary for management at the Homeland Security Department, is stepping down after almost four years on the job.

Government sources confirmed that Borras, who served as interim DHS deputy secretary from September to December, will return to the private sector. Borras’ last day at DHS is Feb. 7.

Chris Cummiskey, the DHS deputy undersecretary for management since May 2010, has been acting for Borras since September. He is expected to remain in the acting role.

Repeated requests to DHS for comment were not returned.

Rafael Borras, undersecretary for management, DHS (DHS photo)
Borras replaced Elaine Duke, who retired in March 2010 after 28 years in government, in April 2010.

During his tenure at DHS, Borras focused on a handful of specific management areas that needed great attention.

Among his biggest accomplishments is getting DHS its first unqualified financial audit opinion last November after a decade of being one of two agencies who couldn’t close their financial books.

Another priority for Borras was improving how DHS bought goods and services, especially technology systems.

He oversaw the implementation of the review process called Program Accountability and Risk Management (PARM). It includes three levels: one for programs worth more than $1 billion; one for programs worth $300 million to $1 billion; and one for programs worth less than $300 million.

The goal of PARM is to focus programs on mitigating risks whether they are acquisition or technology or program management.

Most recently, Borras instituted the use of data through a concept called the Management Cube. He said the idea behind the Management Cube is to create an integrated structure to go from strategy to resourcing to execution in the CXO communities.

Borras did come under criticism by the House Homeland Security Committee for not consolidating DHS’ acquisition offices. But he is taking steps to fix the problems, including directing Customs and Border Protection to bring all of its air and marine acquisition programs before DHS’ central acquisition review process and bring its projects in line with department policy.

The one priority Borras had the most difficulties with was improving employee morale at DHS. According to the Partnership for Public Service’s Best Places to Work survey, DHS’ overall index score dropped almost seven points between 2010 and 2013. The department did see a few bright spots with its individual scores for teamwork, strategic management and training and development inching up last year as compared to the previous year.

One of the things Borras did change is to make the agency’s chief human capital officer a career position instead of a political job. He said in 2011 that change would lend much needed stability to the position.

Borras’ decision to leave continues DHS’ carousel of senior officials coming and going. The Senate confirmed Jeh Johnson and Alejandro Mayorkas to be secretary and deputy secretary of DHS, respectively, last month to help to begin to fill many of the political positions that have been missing permanent leaders. At one point, 40 percent of all DHS political positions were vacant or held by people in acting roles.


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Cause, effect of DHS morale problems tied to leadership vacancies

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