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 Departmentâ€™s goals over the next year and fielded questions on a range of topics. Details about this gathering are available here.Â In follow-up, CQ Homeland Securityâ€™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.Â 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
â€œThe 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 â€œorgâ€ chart demotion with real consequences on peoplesâ€™ 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 departmentâ€™s strategy to this day falls short of prioritizing its resources and investments around its uniquely difficult mission: combat significant threats while maintaining â€” even enhancing â€” daily operation of the economy and overall quality of life for all Americans and visitors. And donâ€™t forget natural disasters. A framework that puts this entire mission into a workable perspective may be achieved by the forthcoming â€” and first ever â€” Quadrennial Homeland Security Review. Regardless, the next president inherits DHS with a responsibility to elevate this departmentâ€™s stature, rationalize its White House coordinating entities, and craft a strategy sufficient to the task.â€