06/14/2013 02:06 pm ET Updated Aug 14, 2013

Tackling management challenges at the Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is on the frontlines protecting the nation against terrorism and responding to natural disasters and other emergencies. Noah Kroloff was at the center of the action from 2009 until this past March as chief of staff to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Q. What management challenges did you face at DHS?

A. DHS is a relatively young agency, certainly by federal government standards. When Secretary Napolitano got there it was under 10 years old. It's also the third largest agency, with 240,000 employees and 22 agencies merged into one. The management challenges involved continuing to integrate these many agencies into one. The challenges were also opportunities, and that's how we looked at them. With every new policy, program or management decision, there was an opportunity to do something new and creative. You have these really extraordinary organizations that are wrapped into a new agency where new operations and systems are being built. It's a really wonderful thing to be involved with.

How did you manage requests for information from Congress and component agencies?

You work very, very hard and you try your best to communicate and be both a listener and a thoughtful responder. It sometimes takes a little bit of time to filter information through the department and to get that information out, but for a department of its size, I think DHS is really pretty nimble, all things considered.