In this two-part interview, Angela Bailey, chief human capital officer at the Department of Homeland Security, discusses initiatives to improve morale at the agency post-shutdown, and other top priorities.
After the 35-day government shutdown impacted the Department of Homeland Security, efforts are in place to improve morale at the agency. A new bill introduced by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Johnson wants to improve how DHS employees view their jobs. Angela Bailey, chief human capital officer at DHS, says that the agency is working on talking these challenges, and that her experiences at the Office of Personnel Management allowed her to have firsthand experience with managing a large workforce. “I think the biggest thing that being the chief operating officer did for me is that it gave me a broad range of things. When you have the CIO working for you, the chief acquisition officer, chief financial officer, facilities, all of those kinds of things working for you, it really helps inform and give you a great foundation,” Bailey said. “When I got to DHS and we started talking about things like HR IT, I had a fundamental foundation with regard to how a CIO operation should work. Because of that, one of the best things that I think happened was that we were able to create a governance structure around our HR IT… It really hadn’t been done before where you bring CHCO and CIO together.” Bailey told Government Matters that one of the notable HR Initiatives at the department is “inclusive diversity.” “I think the best way to say this is that we sometimes think of diversity as if it’s like Noah’s ark,” Bailey said. “If we have two of everything, then we are diverse. But the main point is how do you drive it so that folks actually feel included? So that they’re part of the organization, they feel included with the mission, included with their colleagues, so we keyed it as inclusive diversity.” Bailey says that her role as the chief human capital officer is above all a coordinator between HR leadership at all the agencies under the DHS umbrella. “In essence, what I am is a master integrator. Each of the components have… their own HR directors.My role is to try to figure out a way to bring them all together so that we kind of move in the same direction when it makes sense to do so. There are always going to be some things that are very unique to a specific organization, they’ll have a certain hiring authority that’s only for them to use and not necessarily for another one,” Bailey said. “It is not just about the components, though. My job is to actually look across the occupations. For example, what do we need to do for the law enforcement community as a whole? First responders? It is not just about FEMA, we do surge capacity which means It’s going across the whole board.”