IRS official to head Homeland Security procurement

A senior procurement official with the Internal Revenue Service has been tapped to become procurement chief of the Homeland Security Department, IRS officials said Tuesday.

Greg Rothwell, who currently serves as the deputy chief of agencywide shared services at IRS, is widely regarded as one of the most seasoned and innovative procurement executives in the federal government. He will take a position that has sat vacant at the new department since it was established in March. Since then, Homeland Security Department officials have debated over how to structure the procurement function, according to sources close to the discussions.

The debate has often centered on the role of procurement versus acquisition-the longer-term process of crafting purchasing strategies to meet an agency's needs. It has become so contentious at times that some observers felt only a widely respected and admired executive would stand a chance of making headway in the job. Some of Rothwell's former colleagues said he fits that bill, and that his appointment is a signal to the Homeland Security leadership that procurement will be given a high priority.

"Rothwell is one of the most outstanding procurement professionals in the federal government," said Steven Kelman, the head of federal procurement in the Clinton administration. It was Rothwell's idea, along with IRS colleague Jim Williams, to strike blanket purchasing agreements with technology hardware vendors using the General Services Administration's schedules contracts, Kelman said. That strategy has been replicated numerous times and has resulted in the government getting better prices on hardware, he added.

The Homeland Security Department could become a hotbed of largely untested procurement methods. The Transportation Security Administration, one of the department's biggest agencies, struck a deal last year with technology firm Unisys that lets the company build and manage the agency's entire communications technology infrastructure. The agency plays a limited role fashioning requirements for the contract, and the contractor is rewarded by how well it meets certain benchmarks that company executives and TSA officials devise.

Now Homeland Security is preparing to award a contract for the US VISIT program to log foreigners crossing American borders that would rely heavily on industry to design and manage a multi-billion dollar system of networks and databases that will stretch across the country.

The Homeland Security procurement director will play a central role in crafting that contract. In that sense, "this really is the job that Greg's been groomed for his entire career," said Bob Welch, a former Treasury Department procurement chief who worked with Rothwell.

Rothwell will report to Janet Hale, the Homeland Security undersecretary for management. That should add to his credibility throughout the department because of the control Hale exerts over the budget process.

Homeland Security officials had no immediate comment about the news of Rothwell's appointment, which was announced in a voicemail message sent Tuesday morning from the head of Rothwell's office, said Gregory Doyle, the IRS deputy procurement executive. It was not clear when Rothwell would begin his new assignment.

As deputy of the shared services office, Rothwell was involved in a major component of the IRS' ongoing efforts to upgrade its antiquated technology systems. The office has provided facilities, procurement and personnel for the program. At the time of Rothwell's appointment to the position in July 1999, then-IRS commissioner Charles Rossotti praised him for his "years of experience . . . running effective procurement and other service programs."

In his new post, Rothwell will work with his former IRS colleague Williams, who is the program manager of US VISIT. A request for proposals is expected in November, and the department plans to award a contract to a single vendor in May 2004.

Prior to taking his current IRS job, Rothwell was the assistant commissioner for procurement. He also worked in the Office of Thrift Supervision, the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and the Interior Department before arriving at the IRS in 1990.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.