President Donald Trump on Monday evening announced his intent to nominate Elaine Duke to be the deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, selecting a strong management professional to run the department’s day to day operations.
The nomination of Duke might also be seen as a victory for DHS Secretary John Kelly, who reportedly battled an effort by White House to put Kansas secretary of state and known immigration hawk Kris Kobach into the deputy’s spot.
Kelly also reportedly was left out of the drafting of Trump’s controversial executive order issued Friday that temporarily suspends immigration into the United States by nationals of certain countries. However, at a press conference on Tuesday to discuss the new directive, the DHS chief said he had seen drafts of the order prior to its signing, that department lawyers had been involved in the drafting of the directive and that DHS staff assured him that there wasn't anything wrong with it and "'it was what we expected it to be.'"
Kelly said in a statement shortly after Trump’s announcement that “I could not be more pleased by the president’s announcement. Elaine is a true public servant. Her unparalleled knowledge of the department coupled with the overwhelmingly positive response I receive from everyone who hears her name proves she is the right person for the job.”
Duke currently runs her own consulting firm, Elaine Duke and Associates, providing acquisition and business consulting services for companies doing business with the federal government. Prior to entering the private sector, Duke spent 29 years in the federal government, most recently serving as the undersecretary of management at DHS from June 2008 until April 2010.
David Olive, a principal with the government relations and public affairs firm Catalyst Partners told Defense Daily by email on Tuesday that it is an “excellent” choice to select Duke for the number two spot at DHS.
“She has the institutional knowledge and management insight to be helpful immediately to General Kelly’s new leadership team,” Olive said. She is a consummate professional who knows how to make program, policy, personnel and procurement decisions work as intended. Plus she has almost universal respect on Capitol Hill, a rarity these days. Her nomination sends a strong signal to all DHS employees and stakeholders that the protection of our homeland is in good hands.”
The under secretary of management at DHS manages the department’s budget. In that role, Duke also was the chief acquisition officer and oversaw DHS' $17 billion acquisition program. She also oversaw personnel policies in her capacity as the management chief.
Prior to leading the DHS management office, Duke was the chief procurement officer at the department from Jan. 2006 until becoming deputy of the management office in Oct. 2007. She was also deputy chief procurement officer from Oct. 2004 until Dec. 2005 and led efforts to create the Acquisition Professional Career Program to enhance the acquisition workforce at DHS.
While DHS was being stood up in 2003, Duke was the deputy for acquisition at the Transportation Security Administration. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Duke helped federalize passenger and baggage screening at U.S. airports.
Duke also served with the Navy on various acquisition program, include as director for the Office of Contract Policy and deputy director of the Hull, Mechanical and Electrical Contracts Division of the Naval Sea Systems Command. Duke began her federal career as a contracting officer with the Air Force.