A year ago today, Sec. Chertoff gave a speech before a packed room at the Reagan Building to announce the results of his Second-Stage Review (2SR), a comprehensive review process intended to set the agenda for his tenure as DHS Secretary. The speech contained numerous structural and mission-related proposals, and Sec. Chertoff left the impression that DHS would move forward expeditiously to implement them.
One year later, how is DHS doing? This post examines DHS’s progress against ten specific new proposals in the speech and the accompanying 2SR factsheet. (This CRS report is also a useful reference on 2SR).
1. DHS Policy Office. Consistent with the recommendation of the CSIS-Heritage DHS 2.0 report, Chertoff announced the creation of a policy office at DHS, filling a critical gap in the Department’s capabilities. The initial staffing up of the office was slow, but has gained momentum in the last 4-5 months. Chertoff requested that the policy chief (now Stewart Baker) be at the Under Secretary level, a change that Congress has not yet approved, but likely will be at some point in the near future.
2. Preparedness Directorate. At the 2SR speech, Chertoff announced the creation of a new Preparedness Directorate that would include Grants & Training, Infrastructure Protection, Cybersecurity, the US Fire Administration, the National Capital Region, and the Chief Medical Officer. The rationale for the directorate was that it would allow FEMA to focus on the short-term operational missions of response & recovery, and the new directorate could take the long view in its focus on preparedness.
Virginia homeland security advisor George Foresman was nominated to head the directorate in Oct. 2005, and it was officially established at the beginning of 2006. But the Directorate has had a troubled year so far. It has been mired in homeland security grant controversies over the last six weeks. Congress has drastically cut the funding in the FY 2007 appropriations bills for its intended signature initiative, the National Preparedness Integration Program (NPIP) – DHS wanted $50 million, but the House bill contains only $15 million and the Senate bill only $8 million. And yesterday, the Senate essentially voted to disband it, and recombine FEMA and the Preparedness Directorate into a new U.S. Emergency Management Agency – not exactly a vote of confidence.
3. Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity. The 2SR factsheet announced that DHS would create a new Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Telecommunications position – an idea cheered by the IT community. One year later, as the Washington Post noted yesterday, no one has been nominated to fill this slot. Just two weeks ago, it was reported that acting director Andy Purdy makes $577,000/year through an arrangement with Carnegie Mellon University – more than triple Chertoff’s salary. The failure to find someone to fill this job leaves me shaking my head in bewilderment.
4. Chief Intelligence Officer. Chertoff announced a consolidation of intelligence activities at DHS under a Chief Intelligence Officer, who would “ensure that intelligence is coordinated, fused and analyzed within the Department so that we have a common operational picture of what’s going on.” CIA veteran Charlie Allen was chosen for the job, and by all accounts has done an excellent job in building up DHS’s intelligence shop and aligning disparate intelligence activities in the Coast Guard, CBP, ICE, TSA, etc. This is the standout performer to date among the 2SR recommendations.
5. Operations Directorate. Chertoff announce a new Director of Operations Coordination position, who would run the Homeland Security Operations Center and be responsible for enabling DHS to “more effectively conduct joint operations across all organizational elements; coordinate incident management activities; and utilize all resources within the Department to translate intelligence and policy into immediate action.” The existing director of the HSOC, Gen. Matthew Broderick, filled this expanded position, but very little has been done (at least publicly) to execute on these new coordinating role. Perhaps the problems at the HSOC during the Katrina response put a wet cloth on this more expansive vision for the Operations Directorate. Last week retired Coast Guard Vice Admiral Roger Rufe was nominated to head the directorate; hopefully the start of his tenure will bring new efforts to align operations across the component agencies of DHS.
6. The Secure Freight initiative. Chertoff announced a new supply chain security initiative intended to “gather, fuse and assess more complete data from the global supply chain to develop a more accurate profile of the history of cargo in any given container” in a way that would “allow us to expedite large portions of our inbound trade that sustain our nationâ€™s economy, and let us focus with more precision on the unknown.” Dep. Sec. Jackson elaborated on the Secure Freight initiative at the CBP Trade Symposium in Nov. 2005 and in Congressional testimony in April 2006. But DHS did not request any funding for this initiative in the FY 2007 request, and little has been done, at least publicly, to translate these concepts into reality.
7. New agenda to welcome lawful foreign visitors. Chertoff noted that he and Sec. Rice would soon be announcing “a detailed agenda of work and innovation that the Department of State and DHS have already begun, to work together to ease the path for those who wish to visit, study, and conduct business in the United States.” In January 2006, six months later, Rice and Chertoff unveiled the Secure Borders and Open Doors initiative aka the Rice-Chertoff Initiative. But many items on this agenda have been slow to materialize, and the signature initiative – new PASS cards for WHTI compliance – has moved forward slowly, prompting the Senate to want to delay its implementation.
8. Moving FAMS from ICE to TSA. The 2SR press release announced that the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) would be moved from Immigration & Customs Enforcement to the Transportation Security Administration – a wise step, given the common aviation security mission. There has been some mild friction between the air marshals and the TSA screeners, but by and large this move has been succesful.
9. Fingerprint Policy Decision. Chertoff announced that DHS would convert US-VISIT biometrics from a 2-Print System (IDENT) to the FBI’s 10-Print System (IAFIS). This is moving forward at a reasonable pace; the FY 2007 DHS budget will probably include $60m for this effort.
10. Elimination of the DCA 30-Minute Rule. This item in the speech received the loudest applause of the afternoon. TSA eliminated it two days after the speech.
Overall, Hurricane Katrina clearly took its toll on the Second-Stage Review’s best laid plans. Chertoff had indicated at the speech that this was only the first of several announcements; more “actions and policy proposals” were to follow “in the weeks and months ahead.” As far as I can tell, these follow-on initiatives never materialized – or if they did, they were not under the official imprimatur of the Second-Stage Review.
In spite of a generally poor track record to date, I still think that 2SR was a useful exercise for the Department. Most of the ideas that emerged from it were solid. And more importantly, it was the first time that the leadership of DHS had taken time away from the day-to-day tactical fight and made a comprehensive attempt to develop a long-term strategic vision for the Department – something which DHS sorely needed, and still needs today.