Nick Nayak, the Department of Homeland Security‘s former chief procurement officer, urges the government to work on training and retaining its procurement workforce as the field is critical to national security, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
Amrita Jayakumar writes Nayak highlighted the need for quality procurement personnel and engagement with industry to help achieve efficiency and other goals. “[You] have to have quality people to do quality contracting. Procurement is not something you can automate. You also have to engage with industry in order to get the best solutions, because things are changing all the time,” Nayak said.
He cited training and retention of federal procurement workforce as challenges, with many in the field either near retirement or moving to the private sector. His term as procurement chief at DHS is the longest at almost four years, even as he departs from the agency this month and considers starting a consulting firm, Jayakumar reports.
However, Nayak noted that creating a sustainable plan and conducting a transition process would help ensure that the contracting projects are not affected by the tenure or potential departure of procurement officers.
He also pointed to the relevance of the procurement field, particularly at DHS, to national security. “The biggest difference about working at DHS versus anywhere else is that it’s really a 24/7 kind of job, because protecting the country never stops,” Nayak said.