The Department of Homeland Security needs a senior adviser to help its leadership have greater visibility into technology innovation efforts across the department to help manage, coordinate and prioritize investments, a strategic advisory panel recommends.

Some DHS components are managing technology innovation well to help fulfil their missions but the department’s leadership needs “visibility into what is working or not working” but “on balance, the Department would benefit from more prioritization and targeted investment in a few major projects, instead of spreading lower cost projects across the Department,” a working group of the  Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) says in a new report.

The senior adviser would be positioned within the DHS secretary’s office.

“Ultimately, the only way you can really move up on these things is to prioritize and frankly, you’re the guy that’s got to prioritize what are the most important developments that have to be moved and moved on a fast timetable,” Leon Panetta, a member of the HSAC, told Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Thursday during a meeting of the council. Panetta, a former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director during the Obama administration, said the new adviser position is his recommendation based on his experienced in the Defense Department.

The recommendation is one of four made in a report by the Homeland Security Technology and Innovation Network Subcommittee of the HSAC. The subcommittee’s recommendations were unanimously approved by the council for consideration by Mayorkas during the meeting.

The Science and Technology Directorate is the focal point of most of the research and technology efforts within DHS and the head of the directorate serves as the department’s science adviser. However, undersecretary for science and technology isn’t in a position to provide the comprehensive oversight to prioritize enterprise-wide technology investments, members of the subcommittee said.

Citing industry officials involved in the research for their report, the subcommittee says they see “a disconnect between S&T and the [DHS] components regarding priorities and investment.” S&T said this is because of the large number of missions across DHS, a lack of visibility into the work of the components, and a larger focus on short-term rather than long-term projects, the report says.

The other recommendations approved by the council are also aimed at helping DHS better engage with the technology community so it can improve mission performance. One recommendation is a simple guide aimed at startups on how to work with DHS specifically so it can get technology it needs.

Another recommendation calls for an enterprise-wide review by DHS leadership of the various offices with innovation efforts “with an eye toward reducing redundancy,” the report says. Customs and Border Protection’s innovation office is focused on quickly getting technologies to help with missions while other offices are more focused on driving a changing their culture around innovation.

The subcommittee prefers the CBP approach.

“For government, the Subcommittee recommends that innovation offices focus more on results than theory,” the report says.

The final recommendations urge DHS to have metrics to measure innovation and related funding efforts, and review relevant procurement authorities to provide more clarity to components and so that they can be better leveraged to streamline processes and acquire new technologies. The subcommittee also suggests an innovation fund be established to seed new projects.