Bonnie Kudrick, Kristopher Korbelak, Ph.D., Jeffrey Dressel, Ph.D. Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Janae Lockett‐Reynolds, Ph.D. Department of Homeland Security (DHS S&T)

Mark Rutherford United States Coast Guard (USCG)

Matthew Witbeck, Jenny LaFreniere, Bret Peterson Deloitte Consulting, LLP

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) formally incorporated Human Systems Integration (HSI) in systems and policy development in 2012. Since then, DHS components have been establishing HSI capabilities to meet their unique human needs. This discussion panel will focus on the operational transformation and governance strategy for implementing a successful human systems integration (HSI) program across components within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Members of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), United States Coast Guard (USCG), and Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) will discuss the challenges faced when advocating for HSI, and the best practices developed to better integrate research activities with systems engineering.



History of HIS in DHS

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) has been applying Human Systems Integration (HSI) to Systems Engineering (SE) since 2000. Since 2007, DHS Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate has worked to ensure that Human Systems Integration is an integral part of DHS technology and systems development projects/programs (Novak, Kijora, Malone, Lockett-Reynolds, & Wilson, 2010). In efforts to institutionalize the HSI process and practices, across the Department, the DHS S&T HSI Branch has focused on the development of HSI policy and guidance, providing direct HSI support to research and development (R&D) and acquisition programs, and development of the HSI workforce (Wilson, Malone, Lockett-Reynolds, & Wilson, 2009). These efforts have resulted in a standardized approach for addressing human performance and safety in the design and development of technology and systems that can be implemented across the Department with the goal of improving overall system performance.

HSI Definition & Domains

As defined by the DHS, Human Systems Integration is the discipline directed at addressing and optimizing human performance in complex work systems (Department of Homeland Security [DHS], 2012). It ensures the full integration of the human in the design, development, and fielding of complex systems. Traditionally, HSI is comprised of seven domains: 1. Human Factors Engineering 2. Manpower 3. Personnel 4. Training 5. Health and Safety 6. Habitability 7. Personnel Survivability These domains outline the ways in which HSI can contribute to a system’s mission based on human performance challenges. Human Factors Engineering focuses on the design of usable human-machine systems that consider user needs, capabilities, and limitations to optimize human interfaces, facilitate human performance and eliminate design-induced errors. Manpower is concerned with workload distribution and quantity of personnel required, in conjunction with Personnel which oversees the recruitment, assignment, and retention of personnel. Training considers the development of standardized tools and processes needed to deliver proficient skills and knowledge to personnel. Health and Safety aims to reduce hazards for human safety and health while Habitability ensures that personnel are provided an adequate quality of life and work. Lastly, Personnel Survivability ensures that human protection and safeguards are in effect (DHS, 2012)

HSI Value 

The practice of HSI within the DHS has established human-focused requirements that support the reduction of technical risks, minimize total ownership costs, prevent mission-critical errors, and optimize effectiveness, efficiency, and safety across its components. HSI application improves technology across many dimensions, including, but not limited to, areas such as usability, reliability, supportability, safety, affordability, and acceptability (DHS, 2012). For example, the costs associated with the human in a poorly designed system, such as accidents, injuries and equipment damage, represent a large portion of system life-cycle costs (LCC). Specifically, manpower and sustainment related costs can contribute up to 60%-70% of LCC (DHS, 2012). Most of these costs are spent on acquiring, assigning, training, sustaining, protecting, and supporting system manpower (DHS, 2012). It is in these areas that properly implemented HSI practices can increase the return on investment (ROI). Accordingly, the Air Force estimates the ROI of HSI to be 40 to 60 times the cost of the HSI effort for an acquisition, which translates to an estimated LCC savings of between 16% and 50.4% (United States Air Force [USAF]). Nonetheless, HSI implementation must be appropriately tailored to the unique needs and challenges of each organization to reap the full benefits.

Panel Overview 

Featuring perspectives from Transportation Security Administration (TSA), United States Coast Guard (USCG), and Department of Homeland Security (DHS S&T) HSI practitioners, this panel will discuss the strategies for implementing HSI across DHS components. The panelists will consider organizational and operational changes within the department, the features of a mature HSI organization, and how HSI is applied differently based on the unique needs of each component. Additional topics for discussion include the application of HSI domain research, HSI best practices, and integration with systems engineering. The panel will conclude with an interactive discussion between the panelists and audience.



Organizational Change 

In June 2018, the TSA Administrator released a strategy to guide the component through its 25th anniversary in 2026. Among the objectives for strengthening the effectiveness of TSA’s core capabilities was a directive to: “Incorporate human performance factors in security systems requirements and policy development resulting in the adoption and application of DHS Human Systems Integration frameworks and program practices to mature TSA integration of human performance factors.” (Transportation Security Administration [TSA], 2018a) To fulfill this mandate, the TSA HSI team took a holistic approach to reevaluating its position within the component, the type of work it was conducting, and how it integrated with other offices. The TSA HSI team turned to more established HSI components within the DHS for guidance and best practices. With assistance from the USCG and DHS HSI divisions, the TSA team defined a roadmap to formally establish HSI as an integral part of TSA security systems requirements, security procedures, and policy development. This TSA HSI roadmap defines a formal role for HSI within the TSA, aligns the HSI processes with DHS and TSA policy and engineering frameworks, and details methods for standardizing HSI practices within the component. 

HSI Technical Authority 

Organizational acceptance of HSI is one of the greatest challenges when building an HSI capability within a relatively new component. General lack of awareness of what HSI is and why it is valuable has been a roadblock for integration within the TSA. Advocacy with leadership and collaboration with systems engineering teams have been key steps for establishing an HSI distinction within the organization. Although socialization is important in the early stages, a mature HSI team also requires formal policy recognition and authority. The USCG HSI division operates under engineering technical authority and with technical warrants for HSI for all relevant component initiatives. This requires every USCG acquisition program to include HSI. It also helps to ensure that HSI is an early stakeholder in acquisitions and requirements generation to conduct appropriately timed research and analysis. If there is a need for HSI within an acquisition program, the individual HSI domain warrant holders support a holistic HSI plan for its inclusion. The TSA HSI team is pursuing its own authority and technical warrant which would begin as a general engineering authority that expands to include HSI domains as the HSI team grows its capabilities and expertise.

HSI Functional Domains 

While the DHS formally recognizes seven HSI domains, there are many ways to incorporate HSI domain expertise within an organization. The USCG assessed the following ranked order for HSI organizational options, from most to least effective: 1. Integrated domain organization under one roof for maximum synergy and proper balance 2. Matrixed organization where domains are brought together from separate locations 3. Stovepiped domains independently interacting with SE 4. SE reaches out to reactive domain functions as it deems appropriate The USCG follows their first option as the most proactive and integrated for their component. When forming an organizational structure around HSI it is best to start with an approach that makes the most sense for the current state of the organization. Accordingly, the TSA HSI strategy defines four “functional” domains, with expertise currently spread across TSA offices: 1. Human Factors Engineering 2. Performance and Training 3. Manpower and Personnel 4. System Safety The new TSA HSI strategy defines a plan to establish HSI roles and best practices in the TSA offices responsible for hiring, assigning, training, and protecting TSA personnel. It will enable the HSI team to focus on conducting research and developing requirements for human-machine systems, which will be incorporated in TSA systems and policy. Establishing HSI practices where expertise already exists allows the TSA to take a phased approach to formalizing its HSI capabilities. The end goal, following successful establishment of HSI domain capabilities across TSA, is an HSI division, modeled after the USCG HSI division, that consolidates and coordinates all HSI domain expertise into a single shared service for all TSA offices and programs.

Integrating HSI in Systems Engineering 

Because government technology serves a critical function in national security, developing thorough requirements for the total system, including the human, hardware, and software, is imperative for achieving successful mission performance (DHS, 2012; National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA], 2015). HSI is most effective when integrated early in the systems engineering life cycle, so that clear, concise, and testable human-centered requirements are incorporated in the system design, reducing the need for costly redesigns later in development (DHS, 2012). Coordination between the HSI domains and systems engineering is essential to properly design systems for human operators. This requires aligning the HSI processes to the DHS Acquisition Life Cycle Framework (ALF), Acquisition Directive 102-01, and Systems Engineering Life Cycle (SELC) (DHS, 2008; DHS, 2015). The DHS has mapped out the roles, activities, and documentation for each engineering acquisition phase in a detailed handbook for practitioners (DHS, 2012). The USCG and TSA have integrated these roles and responsibilities into their component systems acquisition policy, the Major Systems Acquisition Manual (MSAM) and TSA Systems Acquisition Manual (TSAM), respectively (United States Coast Guard [USCG], 2015; TSA, 2018b). Such formal policy inclusion supports awareness and proper inclusion of HSI within each phase of a program of acquisition. 

HSI Best Practices 

Beyond formal policy inclusion, the DHS has also defined best practices for consistently implementing HSI within component programs. Developing an HSI project management plan is a key method for effectively planning and managing HSI projects and provides a structured approach for informing program managers of HSI roles, activities, risks, and trade-offs (DHS, 2012). HSI planning also includes defining and tracking metrics across the acquisition life cycle. Defining objectives and quantifiable metrics that translate to costs related to redesigns and development delays, training time, personnel utilization and specialization, errors and critical incidents, and maintenance allows an HSI team to manage projects and resources effectively while demonstrating year-over-year impact across component programs (DHS, 2012). While converting HSI metrics into LCC is not always feasible, translating HSI activities and requirements into a common program currency increases the transparency and accountability of the HSI team (USAF; NASA, 2015).


 Kristopher Korbelak, Transportation Security Agency (TSA

Engineering Psychologist with a B.A. in Psychology from Fairfield University, M.A. and Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Connecticut. Before joining TSA, Dr. Korbelak was a Human Factors Analyst at Evolving Technologies, Inc. where he conducted predictive modeling and job task optimization research. Dr. Korbelak was then a Senior Research Psychologist/Principal Associate at Dunlap and Associates, Inc., where he conducted behavioral transportation safety research for NHTSA. 

Jeffrey Dressel, Transportation Security Agency (TSA) 

Engineering Psychologist with B.A.’s in Psychology and Sociology from Eastern Illinois University, MA and PhD in Psychology from the University of Kansas. Before joining TSA, he was an assistant Professor of Psychology, then supported the FAA conducting usability research for air traffic systems. Dr. Dressel first joined TSA by supporting the TSIF Test Branch with AASKI, Inc., and joined the HF group. 

Mark Rutherford, United States Coast Guard (USCG) 

Mr. Mark Rutherford has served as Division Chief of the US Coast Guard’s Human Systems Integration (HSI) Division at Coast Guard Headquarters since 2009, where he oversees Engineering Technical Authority for HSI for all Coast Guard acquisitions and in-service systems. As Technical Director of the precursor division, he formed the Coast Guard’s first HSI staff in 2000 to support the Integrated Deepwater System Program—a massive recapitalization effort to develop and acquire an integrated system of cutters, aircraft, C4ISR assets, and logistics support for the Coast Guard. Mr. Rutherford retired from active duty with the Coast Guard in 2003. His 22 years of military service included two assignments as Commanding Officer of Coast Guard cutters. One of his final assignments, from 1994 to 1999, was Chief of the Performance Consulting Division, in which he was responsible for cost-benefit and needs assessments of all Coast Guard training programs. Mr. Rutherford earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Coast Guard Academy and a Master of Arts degree from the Naval War College. He also holds a Program Manager designation as a Certified Acquisition Professional and earned a Certificate in Human Systems Integration from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Janae Lockett‐Reynolds, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 

Dr. Janae Lockett-Reynolds joined DHS and the Science and Technology Directorate in 2007. She is the Branch Chief for Human Systems Integration (HSI) and leads the initiative to institutionalize the HSI approach across the Department. Dr. Lockett-Reynolds works to develop and implement HSI policy and guidance; workforce training and certification; and HSI methods, tools, and data in support of DHS systems and technology development efforts. She has served within the Federal Government for 14 years. Before joining DHS, Dr. Lockett-Reynolds served as an HSI Subject Matter Expert for the United States Department of the Navy. She developed HSI courses, incorporated HSI methodology throughout the acquisition life cycle to optimize human performance, and worked to bridge the gap between the R&D and Acquisition Community. Dr. Lockett-Reynolds leads the DHS HSI Community of Practice (CoP). She is an Executive Committee Member for the United States Department of Defense Human Factors Engineering Technical Advisory Group; and former Executive Committee Member for the American Society of Naval Engineers Human Systems Integration, and Technical Program Chair for the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Dr. Lockett-Reynolds has authored/co-authored nine publications, and is a recipient of the DHS Under Secretary’s Award for Program Support (2011). Dr. Lockett-Reynolds earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wittenberg University, and a Ph.D. in Experimental Cognitive Psychology from the University of Toledo.


Department of Homeland Security (DHS). (2008). Acquisition Instruction/Guidebook 102-01-001. 

Department of Homeland Security (DHS). (2012). DHS HSI Practitioner’s Guide. 

Department of Homeland Security (DHS). (2015). Systems Engineering Life Cycle 102-01-103. 

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). (2015). NASA/SP–2015-3709 – Human Systems Integration (HSI) Practitioner’s Guide. 

Novak, B., Kijora, C., Malone, T., Lockett-Reynolds, J., & Wilson, D. (2010). US department of homeland security human systems integration applied to US coast guard surface asset acquisitions. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Human Performance at Sea HPAS 2010, Glasgow, Scotland, UK. 

Transportation Security Administration (TSA). (2018). Administrator’s Intent. 

Transportation Security Administration (TSA). (2018). TSA Systems Acquisition Manual (TSAM). 

United States Air Force. (n.d.). Human Systems Integration Handbook. 

United States Coast Guard (USCG). (2015). Major Systems Acquisition Manual (MSAM), COMDTINST M5000.10D. 

Wilson, D., Malone, T., Lockett-Reynolds, J., & Wilson, E. (2009). A Vision for Human Systems Integration in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 53(24), 1839–1843