Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 22, 2007

9/11 Conference Bill: A QDR for HLS?

Filed under: Budgets and Spending,Congress and HLS,Risk Assessment — by Jonah Czerwinski on July 22, 2007

General Eisenhower is often quoted for having said that, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” In a way, that’s the underlying motto to the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review, which was mandated by Congress in the Military Force Structure Review Act of 1996. The new 9/11 Bill establishes a similar process for DHS called the “Quadrennial Homeland Security Review.”

The QDR is a “comprehensive examination of the national defense strategy, force structure, force modernization plans, infrastructure, budget plan, and other elements of the defense program and policies of the Unites States,” according to the 1996 Act. That boils down to a four-year strategic assessment of the current threats facing the U.S. and its interests, a top-level strategy for how the Defense Department will address those threats, and a preliminary justification for near- and long-term investments. DOD has a way of connecting that document with other planning mechanisms, including the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, National Military Strategy, Unified Command Plan, Strategic Planning Guidance, Transformation Planning Guidance, and Joint Operational Concepts, to name a few. Imagine if the Department of Homeland Security generated or linked strategies like this. It might lead to what the Defense Department would call an overarching framework, something that is difficult to pin down in the HLS domain.

Section 1606 of HR1 establishes the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review. The main purpose according to the legislation is to conduct:

“a comprehensive examination of interagency cooperation, preparedness of Federal response assets, infrastructure, budget plan, and other elements of the homeland security program and policies of the United States with a view toward determining and expressing the homeland security strategy of the United States and establishing a homeland security program for the 20 years following that examination.”

That reads a lot like the Military Force Structure Review Act. It also reflects the insightful analysis offered by a veteran of four QDR’s, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense The Quadrennial Defense Review: A Model for the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review.”

Now the President and Co-Founder of the Center for a New American Security, Michele Flournoy suggests a list of commonalities between DHS and DOD that might allow the former to benefit greatly from a so-called QHSR. She says that both Departments are:

• charged with missions that are vital to the health and welfare of the nation “ protecting the American people and our way of life is a mission in which we cannot fail;

• facing persistent and resourceful enemies;

• large, complex bureaucracies comprised of a number of diverse and (in some cases, previously independent) organizations with their own cultures, traditions, and ways of doing business;

• responsible for spending billions of taxpayer dollars as efficiently and effectively as possible;

• perennially in the position of having more programs to pay for than budget; and

• trying to balance near-term demands against long-term investments.

Hard to argue with that. The authors of the QHSR will be challenged by a constant pressure to seek reform through reorganization. This is misplaced energy in large part. The focus for a QHSR should certainly seek to address the bullets above, but also the important questions of how we clearly define the threat posed by terrorism, as well as natural disasters in the context of securing the homeland; how do we define the capabilities necessary in such a way that we can craft an actionable investment strategy; how do we plan to spread this responsibility more effectively across the Executive Branch agencies; and what is the strategy for engaging allies in the process of defining the threat and our shared interests in defeating it?

The language in the Bill ends by stating that “the Secretary [of Homeland Security] shall provide to Congress and make publicly available on the Internet a detailed resource plan specifying the estimated budget and number of staff members that will be required for preparation of the initial quadrennial homeland security review.” According to the Bill, the first QHSR would commence in 2008, just when the next QDR process begins.

Update 7/25: Turns out the people who worked up the International Supply Chain Security Strategy considered how that plan relates to other existing ones in a way similar to how DOD does so with the QDR as I mentioned above. This is from the new supply chain strategy document:


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Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Final 9/11 Bill Conference Agreement

July 26, 2007 @ 3:30 pm

[…] continue the series of posts here that analyze selected portions of the Bill, and update those already posted if the final Bill […]

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