I would like to wish a happy retirement to a recognized procurement leader with whom I have had the pleasure of working, Soraya Correa. As reported recently in the Flash, Soraya will be retiring from her position as the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Chief Procurement Officer at the end of the month. Her retirement concludes a distinguished career of over 40 years of service in the Federal Government. She took on the role of DHS’ Chief Procurement Officer in 2015, where she provided leadership and oversight for the department’s contracting workforce and played a key role in managing major acquisition programs. Prior to her appointment as Chief Procurement Officer, Soraya held leadership positions at multiple Federal agencies, including the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Directorate (ISCIS), the Naval Sea Systems Command, the General Services Administration (GSA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and DHS Headquarters. Soraya’s accomplished career of service in the Federal Government is well known to the procurement community, across both Government and industry.
I first met and had the opportunity to work with Soraya while at GSA, allowing me to experience firsthand Soraya’s professionalism and engaging approach to solving issues. She then went on to INS, taking on the role of Director for Financial Systems Management. Our next chance to join forces came at the Federal Executive Institute, where we were placed on the same executive team for a month. During this time, I was able to get reacquainted with her confident and creative approach to problem-solving. Over the course of the month, we engaged in several thoughtful conversations about leadership and change management. More recently, along with Coalition members, I have had the pleasure of engaging with her on DHS procurement matters.
Soraya is recognized for her focus on strategic sourcing and bringing innovative approaches into Federal procurement. Soon after becoming DHS Chief Procurement Officer, she launched the Procurement Innovation Lab (PIL), which provides DHS with a space to experiment with innovative acquisition techniques and share best practices. The PIL has worked on procurement projects with many agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, the Office of Procurement Operations, and the Office of Selective Acquisitions. It has become a model for other agencies to follow in their efforts to bring innovative ideas to procurement. As a testament to her success and Soraya’s leadership, the lab earned Soraya’s team Excellence in Partnership Awards in 2018 and 2016.
As a dedicated public servant, Soraya understood the importance of transparency with industry and across her agency. She introduced the idea of reverse industry days, in which contracting professionals can converse with DHS acquisition officers. She always welcomed collaboration and was willing to experiment with new ideas and solutions that could lead to positive outcomes for her agency and the procurement community. She knew that improvement sometimes involves risks, but for advancement, she was not afraid to confront such risks. In these endeavors, she maintained unwavering support for her people. She was the first to accept responsibility for any unplanned outcomes, and the first to recognize the hard work of others that led to success.
Certainly, Soraya’s transformational leadership and dedication to bringing common sense to Federal procurement will be missed, as will her kind, effervescent personality. I know I speak for Coalition members when I say that we look forward to honoring her legacy at DHS by advancing the mission of common sense acquisition. I congratulate Soraya for her invaluable career of public service, and I wish her all the best as she starts a new chapter in her life.