Council & Grant Thornton Unveil Inaugural 20/20 Project Survey

For Immediate Release: November 9, 2015

Homeland Security & Defense Business Council and Grant Thornton Unveil
New Study on Department of Homeland Security Challenges and Opportunities
Inaugural Survey Indicates DHS Management Must Improve Unification
To Better Tackle Rapidly Evolving Homeland Threats and Agency Workforce Issues

                WASHINGTON – The Homeland Security & Defense Business Council (Council) and Grant Thornton LLP jointly unveiled an inaugural survey that kicks off a five-year 20/20 Project on the Homeland Security Enterprise, at our Symposium & National Conversation. The survey, which serves as a baseline assessment of U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) management and operational issues, indicates the agency has made many improvements, but still faces challenges in the areas of management unification that impact mission accomplishment, as well as workforce recruitment, retention and succession planning.

“Throughout the Council’s 20/20 Project, we will provide perspectives of both government officials from across the homeland security enterprise and industry executives as a foundation of information, education, best practices and suggested action leading up to the year 2020,” said Marc Pearl, President & CEO of the Council. “This inaugural report coupled with our Symposium & National Conversation is an important first step in creating a valuable industry-government dialogue that encourages our sectors to work together to understand the current and future threats impacting the homeland security enterprise.”

“The Department of Homeland Security has established a Unity of Effort initiative, which has broad support agency-wide, but is often viewed as less relevant by the agency’s component level leaders to their immediate organizations,” said Phil Kangas, Principal with Grant Thornton’s Global Public Sector and a leader of the survey team. “The challenge is to move Unity of Effort from a general policy objective to specific, actionable goals that will enable the agency to successfully achieve its missions.”

The survey, conducted during the summer and early fall of 2015, includes interviews with nearly 70 senior leaders currently working in the U.S. homeland security arena – at DHS itself and at private sector firms in the homeland security industry that do business with DHS.

The survey indicates that while DHS has made many improvements since it was established in 2003, the following trends pose the greatest challenges:

  • Threats and challenges to DHS mission accomplishment are complex and changing at a rapid pace. There is general consensus between industry and government that risks related to cyber attacks and lone-wolf, homegrown terrorism present significant threats.
  • Broad support exists for unity of effort as a concept, but fewer see direct application to their immediate organizational units. Work remains to clarify and operationalize broader application of this initiative.
  • While progress has been made, the vast majority of respondents think management challenges are inhibiting the mission.
  • The DHS workforce will continue to encounter significant challenges through 2020. A rapidly aging workforce will cause a wave of retirements, resulting in a loss of institutional knowledge amplified by inadequate succession planning, particularly in leadership positions. Additionally, DHS encounters consistent challenges in recruiting, training, and retaining highly qualified employees.

To read the full survey report, please click here.


About the Homeland Security & Defense Business Council
The Homeland Security & Defense Business Council is a not-for-profit, non-partisan membership organization comprised of senior executives and their subject matter experts from the leading small, mid-tier, and large companies that provide homeland security technology, product, and service solutions to our nation and around the world. Our mission is to bring government officials and their executive-level counterparts from industry together for an open, transparent and vital exchange of ideas and perspectives, so that we can jointly discuss the best ways to solve mission challenges. Learn more about the Council’s work at:

About Grant Thornton LLP
Grant Thornton’s Global Public Sector, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is a global management consulting business with the mission of providing responsive and innovative financial, performance management and systems solutions to governments and international organizations. Visit Grant Thornton’s Global Public Sector at