Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 6, 2008

DHS Anniversary Prompts Wave of Judgement in CQ

Filed under: Strategy — by Jonah Czerwinski on March 6, 2008

CQ ran a story today commemorating the fifth anniversary of DHS by citing the roundtable Secretary Chertoff convened on Monday with about ten bloggers. At the roundtable, Chertoff outlined the Department’s goals over the next year and fielded questions on a range of topics. Details about this gathering are available here.  In follow-up, CQ Homeland Security’s editor invited more than two dozen experts in government, think tanks, and the private sector to comment (in about 200 words) on whether the creation of DHS was a good idea and, if you had the chance to do it all over again, what would you have done differently?

My response is listed second under the Academia and Think Tanks grouping.  Since its available by subscription, I’ll only excerpt my comments below.

All are worth a read, but I recommend reading the contributions from Clark Ervin (former DHS IG), P.J. Crowley, Scott Hastings (former US-VISIT CIO), James Lee Witt, Bennie Thompson, and Sec. Chertoff.

Jonah Czerwinski, managing consultant for Global Business Services at IBM and a senior adviser on Homeland Security Projects at the Center for the Study of the Presidency

“The stand-up of DHS has delivered both winners and losers during a tumultuous start challenged by self-inflicted wounds. The path forward requires a strategy that rebalances the homeland security mission with clear priorities and a new strategic framework.

Some pre-existing organizations, like the Coast Guard, enjoyed heightened authorities and larger budgets due to the reorganization that created the Department of Homeland Security. Others, such as FEMA, suffered an “org” chart demotion with real consequences on peoples’ lives as seen in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Newly created entities, such as the Science and Technology Directorate, continue to struggle with the growing pains of integration and the battle for interagency legitimacy. A lot could have been done differently.

Initial objections by the Bush administration to creating a unified Homeland Security Department gave in to a real-word political science experiment that Congress passed in the form of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The lack of initial administration support for DHS slowed progress and forced DHS to fight unnecessary bureaucratic battles with the Pentagon and the intelligence community, not to mention new counterparts overseas.

The department’s strategy to this day falls short of prioritizing its resources and investments around its uniquely difficult mission: combat significant threats while maintaining — even enhancing — daily operation of the economy and overall quality of life for all Americans and visitors. And don’t forget natural disasters. A framework that puts this entire mission into a workable perspective may be achieved by the forthcoming — and first ever — Quadrennial Homeland Security Review. Regardless, the next president inherits DHS with a responsibility to elevate this department’s stature, rationalize its White House coordinating entities, and craft a strategy sufficient to the task.”

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Comment by William R. Cumming

March 6, 2008 @ 11:44 am

Excellent posting. A for or against assessment of creation of DHS is ridiculous time waste at this point. What needs bottom-line assessment is given what exists, what to do now? I argue here for the first time in any of my postings that perhaps DHS should be made larger not smaller. For example, a number of components currently terribly managed and structured as were all the DOJ components that came into DHS is the Drug Enforcement Administration, long ago the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs in the Treasury Dept. This organization should be in DHS and probably the Drug War Czar also. Definitely a homeland security issue–drugs that is. Oh and by the way what DOJ does with its other components also reflects long term poor management. DOJ should be limited strictly to litigation activity and criminal law enforcement. Civil Division activity, as could Tax Division activity could be handled respectively by the Agency and Department General Counsels under nominal supervision by DOJ and Treasury Dept. Also, young lawyers enrolling for a time in DOJ should be under a special category of 10 term appointments. The way it is now DOJ subsidizes the big law firms by training new law school graduates. Like the service academies have a mandatory term of appointment. Subject to disqualification for federal cases if you leave early. After all there is the 13th Amendment. Back to DHS. Coast Guard, TSA, and FEMA are all candidates for relocation out of DHS but I argue all three should stay. However, my recommendation is premised on several factors. No 20 year and out for Coasties any more. 25 year of service before retirement. Also increase funding and FTE for Coasties but make sure that do not end up viewing administrative components of DHS as their retirement havens. Overlaps and redundancies in DHS should be examined by determining exactly what programs, functions, activities each component has and how does it relate to others. Definitely some duplications and overlaps. This is not an easy study to complete. Starts with examining legal authorities, staffing, emergency assignements etc. By the way deployment in large-scale crises should be a condition of employment and training provided for all DHS personnel. Hey even cooks and clerks get basic training in the military. Looking forward to the DHS 3.0 project of CSIS and the Heritage Foundation.

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March 29, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

[…] DHS Anniversary Prompts Wave of Judgement in CQ The department’s strategy to this day falls short of prioritizing its resources and investments around its uniquely difficult mission… […]

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Homeland Secretary Offers 10-year Vision, in 4 Parts

April 16, 2008 @ 12:02 am

[…] at Yale University entitled “Confronting The Threats To Our Homeland.” Citing the five-year mark for DHS and the three-year mark for his tenure as its head, he explained that such an occasion warrants not […]

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