Catherine Tyrell

Health and Human Services
Catherine Tyrell

Chief Acquisition Officer

In May, Clay Johnson, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, gave the government's chief acquisition officers an Oct. 1 deadline: Use strategic sourcing to identify three contracting areas where products could be purchased more cheaply and more efficiently. One month later the Health and Human Services Department had found six, prompting it to strike new contracts for office supplies, furniture and equipment, custodial products, IT peripherals and document management. With three more contracts currently under review, these nine account for about $200 million in spending-a fraction of the approximately $11 billion the department spends annually on procurement. But according to Chief Acquisition Officer Catherine Tyrell, it's an important first step. "We started with the low-hanging fruit because it gets people on board," Tyrell says.

Tyrell came to HHS in February 2001 to work for the Administration for Children and Families after a three-year stint with the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican National Committee. Eight months later, she joined the newly created Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management as special assistant to the secretary. ASAM has the largest procurement office in the department (HHS has 36 procurement offices), and it houses the procurement policy shop. There, Tyrell discovered the size and the scope of HHS purchasing. "I learned that the question of what we buy often ends up being the question of what don't we buy," she says. Tyrell became the department's first chief acquisition officer in May 2004.

HHS must deal with the effects of turnover. About a third of the department's 65,000 employees now are eligible for retirement, and procurement is a specialized field where departures will be quickly felt. As Tyrell notes, "You can't just hire someone off the street. You need a real business focus."

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

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

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

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