Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 6, 2006

NGA surveys state homeland security directors

Filed under: State and Local HLS — by Christian Beckner on April 6, 2006

The Center for Best Practices at the National Governors Association issued a report yesterday summarizing the results of a survey of state homeland security directors. The full report is available here, and it provides a rich and statistically-significant overview of the current perspective on homeland security from the 50 states.

Some of the more interesting findings in the report include:

  • The increased importance of disaster preparedness and pandemic flu planning as top items on state directors’ agendas.
  • Criticism of DHS for not working broadly with state directors, arguing that DHS “consults with a limited number of handpicked state officials and then claims to produce policy based on broad state input.”
  • The challenges of intelligence-sharing with the federal government, which has led many states to create their own intelligence fusion centers (see this old post for background).
  • The extent to which National Guard deployments and budget cutbacks have affected state readiness. The report notes that “the multiple demands on National Guard forces leave 58 percent of states with a 75 percent or less capability to meet the responsibilities of state emergency plans.”

Overall, a very interesting survey, and one that should serve as a call to action for DHS to improve its outreach to states.

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2 Comments »

525

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 6, 2006 @ 4:02 pm

It is of great interest that the actual “chain of command” in many states for domestic crisis response and recovery is not a matter of state law but administrative past practice. Most of the states operate under obsolete statutes that have not recieved review by their current Attorney Generals. Complicating the matter is that in 26 states the National Guard “StARCS” are the emergency management lead, or even in two states Michigan and New Jersey the head of the State Police. After 9/11 and the creation of State ‘Homeland Security” offices a third player was introduced. Still traumatized by the lack of state law enforcement backup after the riots in the late 60’s and early 70’s the Governors have clung (sic) to their NG units as ultimate law enforcement backup. It is clear that line drawing between law enforcement, emergency management, and homeland security has not occurred swiftly even at the federal level but it is too bad that the “laboratories of democracy” the states haven’t really figured it out either. Now three units in many states compete for funds and authority to act but no one sits down to draft a commonsense or even determines if there is a crisis response system with any of the players. Oh well, democracy is better than the alternatives, except when training, expertise, equipment, and logistics are a reflection of politics and not efficiency and effectiveness. Notice the survey is weak on what real capabilities exist at the State level.

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » Missouri audit critiques state’s homeland security

May 12, 2006 @ 7:19 pm

[…] This is a solid report, and a model for what all states should be doing to audit and assess their homeland security performance. Too many states are not transparent when it comes to the questions of what are they doing to prepare and how are they spending federal homeland security grant money – I’ve run into many dead-ends trying to research these topics over the past few years. States have the right and duty to complain about DHS, but they need to also be accountable for their actions. Any lack of public accountability creates risks that states are lagging in their efforts or spending money unwisely, both of which have the effect of undermining security. […]

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