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Richard "Rich" M. Chávez

Director, Operations Coordination
DHS Continuity Coordinator, Reporting to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)


Mr. Chávez is a career Senior Executive at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As the Director of the Office of Operations Coordination (OPS), he provides counsel directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security on a wide range of operational issues to include prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery operations, continuity of operations (COOP), and planning. He leads an office of more than 500 people who are responsible for monitoring the security of the United States on a daily basis, providing national situational awareness, and developing the national common operating picture. His office provides vital decision support information to the Federal interagency, Governors, Homeland Security Advisors, law enforcement, private sector, and critical infrastructure operators across the homeland security enterprise.


Mr. Chávez has over 30 years of government experience serving with DHS and with the Department of Defense (DoD), as an Air Force officer and later as a senior civilian advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. As a senior civilian advisor, he worked directly with the Department of State and with foreign governments to develop policy regarding the request for assistance process to enable host nation support to prepare for and respond to a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear event. He also served as Director, Domestic Consequence Management, where he led a staff that developed policy for Defense Support of Civil Authorities preparedness and response operations throughout DoD and with 32 other Federal agencies. Mr. Chávez was responsible for leading DoD’s largest, most comprehensive, and most extensive civil support mission ever in response to Hurricane Katrina, and he led DoD’s pandemic influenza preparedness and response efforts.


Mr. Chávez came to DHS in 2010 as the Deputy Director of OPS. In 2011, he was selected as the Director of OPS. During his tenure leading OPS, the organization has responded to several key events, most notably the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami response, a number of National Special Security Events (including two States of the Union, two political conventions, and several global summits), and over 70 exercises.


As Director, Mr. Chávez has overseen critical improvements to the National Operations Center, which provides real-time information, analysis, and situational awareness to the Secretary and other senior government leaders during major incidents. Other initiatives have included leading the White House-directed, interagency effort to draft the Integrated Southwest Border Security Augmentation Plan; leading the creation of the National Terrorism Advisory System; and developing continuity plans that allow DHS to execute its missions even when its primary facilities and systems are unavailable. In September 2012, the DHS Common Operating Picture (COP) Project, a database operated by OPS to provide situational awareness to first responders nationwide, was selected as a Government Computer News Award winner for “Outstanding Information Technology Achievement in Government.”


Mr. Chávez holds a Bachelor of Science professional degree in Corrections and Law Enforcement from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. He also holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, California, and a Master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

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