Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 29, 2009

House Homeland Committee Adds Members

Filed under: Budgets and Spending,General Homeland Security,Intelligence and Info-Sharing — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 29, 2009

Eight new Democratic members of the House Homeland Security Committee replace a group of seven outgoing Dems on the Committee, and one more majority seat remains to be filled. Overall, the Democrats increase their majority on the Homeland Committee from 18 to 20 seats. Here’s who is in:

Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri
Laura Richardson of California
Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona
Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico
James A. Himes of Connecticut
Mary Jo Kilroy of Ohio
Eric J. Massa of New York
Dina Titus of Nevada

And who is out:
Ed Markey of Massachusetts
Norm Dicks of Washington
Nita M. Lowey of New York
Donna M. Christensen of the U.S. Virgin Islands
Bob Etheridge of North Carolina
Jim Langevin of Rhode Island
Ed Perlmutter of New Jersey

(None of the outgoing Dems lost in elections.)

Also, Rob Margetta ran a piece in CQ today on the prospect of a DHS Authorization Bill coming this year. He canvassed a number of individuals on the likelihood of and need for such legislation, including P.J. Crowley, Jena Baker McNeill, Donald H. Kent Jr., former DHS A/S for legislative affairs, and yours truly. Since the founder of this blog, Christian Beckner, is a senior member of the staff for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I’m optimistic the bill will see light this Congress.

January 28, 2009

DHS Rolls Out Integrated Planning System

Filed under: General Homeland Security,Organizational Issues,Preparedness and Response,Strategy — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 28, 2009

Last October I wrote about a briefing to be hosted by the DHS Office of Strategic Plans to describe the new DHS Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Execution (PPBE) process and the FY 2011-2015 Integrated Planning Guidance that derives from it. Readers may have noticed that yesterday’s Action Directives issued by Secretary Napolitano included reference to the “Integrated Planning System.” Thanks to reader WRC and other readers we can make a copy of it available here so those interested can place this Directive in better context.

The Action Directive addresses the HSC Planning Scenarios in this context as follows:

The Department is leading an interagency effort to develop plans at multiple levels to address eight scenario sets, which are based on the 15 National Planning Scenarios crafted by the Homeland Security Council. DHS and the federal interagency are utilizing the Integrated Planning System to develop and adjudicate interagency plans for each scenario. What is the status of each of these plans and the anticipated timeframe and actions needed to complete the process? Are there any recommendations for restructuring or consolidation? Where can state and local emergency management agencies provide input and assistance? An oral report is due Feb. 9, with a final report due Feb. 23.

The IPS was just issued this month. It establishes a standard approach to national planning to provide guidance for conducting planning under the Homeland Security Management System, which is described in the 2007 National Strategy for Homeland Security. However, the IPS is the result of taskings assigned as part of Annex I of HSPD 8. The IPS is intended to compliment the Incident Command System (ICS) established in the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Perhaps appropriately, the IPS is to be considered only the “first step” in standardizing homeland security planning. It’ll be updated 1 year after approval and then every 2 years after that. Five key concepts underpin the current version:

1. The IPS has been developed recognizing that homeland security planning is based on coordination and synchronization rather than command and control.

2. The IPS applies to Federal departments and agencies with a role in homeland security when conducting scenario-based planning.

3. State, local, and Tribal governments are encouraged to comply with IPS by using the Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) 101.

4. The IPS establishes a process for developing Federal plans.

5. The IPS is not designed to solve every planning problem.

Its my impression that the IPS responds to a coordination imperative most everyone in the homeland security community recognized as being needed for a long time. It was needed to rationalize investments, to clarify roles and missions, and to define what success looks like, not to mention to establish a more robust connection at the Federal-State-Local levels.

Several agencies with equities relevant to the homeland security mission do not plug into a standardized planning process across the Federal Government. The result is insufficient integration of plans and planning. Those agencies with existing planning systems and plans must ensure their planning products are compatible with the IPS. Agencies without existing planning processes can employ the IPS.

Click to enlarge.

Ultimately, this effort may look familiar to DOD hands. The IPS operates on three planning levels: strategic, operational, and tactical. Moreover, the IPS is intended to develop a set of interrelated documents as follows: Strategic Guidance Statements (SGSs), Strategic Plans, Concept Plans (CONPLANs), Operations Plans (OPLANs), and tactical plans. This is envisioned to unfold in a timeline like this one:

National Level
Phase 1 (July 08 – June 09)
• 4 CONPLANs completed
• IND & TUE by Jan 09
• RDD & Bio by Jun 09
• Updated CIS

Phase 2 (June 09 – Dec 09)
• 8 CONPLANs completed
• Imbedded pieces of CIS

Phase 3 (FY10)
• All Hazards Plan completed
• Full set of Scenario Annexes

Regional Level
Phase 1 (July 08 – Mar 09)
• Regional All Hazards CONPLAN completed
• Regional planning reps part of National CONPLAN development

Phase 2 (Jan 09 – Dec 09)
• 4 Scenario Annexes completed
• Assign one scenario to each Region

Phase 3 (FY10)
• Full set of scenario annexes

January 27, 2009

HSPD Update Part II

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 27, 2009

In the spirit of one of yesterday’s posts concerning the HSPDs from the Bush Administration, this update highlights HSPD 14, 17, and 18.

I worked on the process to draft HSPD 14, which established the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office in 2005. (The DNDO began work in mid-2004.) I was one of several involved in the effort to accelerate and integrate national efforts to combat the smuggled nuclear weapons threat. This included dedicated professionals from the national labs, experts from the intel community, Hill staffers, service labs, DHS leadership, and White House staff (mostly OVP and HSC).

The SAFE Port Act authorized DNDO into law with language very similar to HSPD 14. Much of this directive could be overtaken by the establishment of a new White House advisor on all things nuclear (MPC&A, detection, nonproliferation) as then candidate Obama indicated he would do. Section 1 of this PD is worth keeping regardless, but Sections 2-3 are dedicated to establishing and empowering the DNDO, which the President may choose to alter. In my opinion, some changes are necessary.

Section 4 of HSPD 14 assigns nonproliferation R&D and dual-use counter-proliferation and counter-terrorism nuclear detection R&D to the Secretary of Energy. See the forthcoming report of the Stimson Center taskforce on the nation’s nuclear research and weapons labs for guidance on how this role could be separated from the Department of Energy, which should be responsible for energy in general, not nuclear weapons. Sections 5-8 (interagency coordination with the DNDO) are all dependant on whether the DNDO continues to exist.

HSPD 17 deals with the Nuclear Materials Information Program (NMIP). I believe this PD is still classified. The NMIP is an information management system that consolidates all-source information about global nuclear materials and their security status. This would be useful for the Global Nuclear Detection Architecture, but it is unclear how much of this Program is available to DHS or other agencies involved in nonproliferation, counterproliferation, and counterterrorism efforts.

NMIP also orders the establishment of a national registry for identifying and tracking nuclear material samples that are held throughout the U.S., which would be directly beneficial to the charter of the DNDO under HSPD 14. The Securing the Cities Initiative actually claims to do this “identifying and tracking” as part of its mission.

Mitigating illness and preventing death are the principal goals of medical countermeasure efforts, which are designed to address bio-, nuc-, and chemical terrorism. HSPD 18 – Medical Countermeasures Against Weapons of Mass Destruction – requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to lead the research, development, testing, evaluation, and acquisition efforts related to this directive. This also includes an interagency coordinating activity, a strategic plan, a private sector engagement effort, and “a strategic, integrated all-CBRN risk assessment that integrates the findings of the intelligence and law enforcement communi¬ties with input from the scientific, medical, and public health communities.”

All efforts related to this policy as it pertains to WMD, however, are assigned to the Secretary of Defense. All CBRN activities include vague roles for the interagency (i.e. leverage, ensure, facilitate). Perhaps Secretary Napolitano’s reviews will include the outputs of this PD and weigh in on a specific role for DHS.

January 26, 2009

Federal Preparedness Report Released

Filed under: Preparedness and Response — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 26, 2009

Seven days before the hand-off to the Obama administration, DHS finalized the Federal Preparedness Report (FPR). The report reviews preparedness efforts at the Federal, State, local, and tribal levels over the past five years.

The FPR intends to institutionalize analytical and data collection processes to report on the national preparedness system, which includes the following components:

• Target capabilities and preparedness priorities
• Equipment and training standards
• Training and exercises
• Comprehensive assessment system
• Remedial action management program
• Federal response capability inventory
• Reporting requirements
• Federal preparedness

The FPR is mandated by the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 and is considered the first in a series of annual preparedness reports that sets a baseline for future assessments.

Thanks to reader Bill Cummings for sending this is in. And thanks to Steven Aftergood at FAS for hosting the document here.

Update HSPDs 5 and 8

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 26, 2009

As Secretary Napolitano undertakes a wide-ranging review of DHS operations, plans, and capabilities, no doubt she is either leading or informing a similar review of the two dozen Homeland Security Presidential Directives issued by President Bush since 9/11. All HSPDs are likely on the chopping block, but for different reasons. Some are inconsistent with President Obama’s philosophy and strategy. Some are simply outdated. We’ll take a look at a few of them here and in subsequent posts.

HSPD 5, entitled Management of Domestic Incidents, was issued in late February 2003 and outlines the National Incident Management System (NIMS), the National Response Plan (NRP), and, among other things, the fifteen planning scenarios. NIMS seems to be an unfinished integration effort. According to GAO, the TOPOFF 3 exercise in April 2005 illustrated some uneven uptake of the NIMS framework at the federal level. The FBI, wrote GAO,
• “never fully integrated into and accepted the unified command called for under NIMS…”,
• “did not appropriately staff the incident command post with its representatives,” and
• “kept management of the investigation separate from the incident management overseen by the unified command.”

Chances are the FBI is in store for some firmer guidance as to its role in cooperation with DHS, which was lacking at the highest levels.

HSPD 8 is related to this Directive and is probably headed for a re-write. HSPD 8, on National Preparedness, requires a national domestic all-hazards preparedness goal, establishes mechanisms for improved delivery of Federal preparedness assistance to state and local governments, and outlines actions to strengthen preparedness capabilities at all levels of government.

Combining the rewrite of HSPD 5 with 8 makes some sense. To that end, the planning scenarios and capabilities-based planning guidance could be replaced with a more agile process. A form of scenario-based planning, similar to that which is used by the intelligence community and the State Department’s Project Horizon, would be an appropriate addition. The planning scenarios started out as an academic exercise, almost as a placeholder to facilitate discussion and planning. But they are notably static and became surprisingly influential for planning in dynamic situations.

January 24, 2009

Deputy DHS Secretary Named

Filed under: General Homeland Security,Intelligence and Info-Sharing — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 24, 2009

President Obama nominated Jane Holl Lute on Friday to be Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, serving under newly confirmed Secretary Napolitano. This is a terrific appointment. Dr. Lute is from the UN and is likely bringing a great appreciation for the potential DHS has for leadership on the international scene.

New S2 at DHS

New S2 at DHS

In her most recent post as United Nations Assistant Secretary-General she has experience overseeing the deployment of tens of thousands of peacekeepers. Coordinating efforts to build sustainable peace in countries emerging from conflict probably includes mission demands not unlike those required after a homeland security crisis.

But does she know Washington? Well, she served under two presidents on the NSC. Eartlier she directed the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict and was a senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center here in DC. She’s also an Army vet who served in Operation Desert Storm.

January 23, 2009

Napolitano to review Cyber, Northern Border Efforts

Filed under: Border Security,Cybersecurity — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 23, 2009

Secretary Napolitano today requested a comprehensive review of DHS efforts as they pertain to cyber security and our northern border strategy. These are two more aspects of what appears to be a net assessment of existing strategy and investments, and a determination of the delta between what those efforts deliver and what we need to succeed. Earlier this week, she issued five “Action Directives” seeking reviews of other DHS operations and plans.

For cyber, the Secretary poses the following questions, to be answered in an oral report by Feb. 3 and a final report due Feb. 17:

• What are the authorities and responsibilities of DHS for the protection of the government and private sector domains?

• What are the relationships with other government agencies, especially the departments of Defense, Treasury, and Energy, and the National Security Agency?

• What are the programs and timeframes to achieve the department’s responsibilities and objectives?

Concerning the “Northern Border Strategy,” the Secretary has requested that a review respond to the following questions with an oral report by Feb. 10 and a final report due Feb. 17:

• What are the current vulnerabilities?

• What is the overall strategy for reducing those vulnerabilities?

• What are the requirements, the programs, the budget, and the timeframe for improving security along this border?

• What level of risk will remain once the programs are completed?

The final question is a critically important one. However, assessing risk remains one of the challenges for the homeland security mission. The second of the so-far seven directives issued by the Secretary actually deals with risk analysis. By January 28, she wants to know the status of risk analysis metrics and how DHS “can enhance risk management as the basis of decision making.” Look for budget priorities to follow this review.

Obama’s West Wing Settles In

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 23, 2009

Thanks to readers for sending this in. The following graphic shows the Obama White House West Wing displaying office assignments for his most senior advisers.

While most of the National Security Council staff and former Homeland Security Council staff work out of the Old Executive Office Building directly next to the White House, National Security Adviser Jones (first floor) and Deputy NSA John Brennan (ground floor) do have offices here in the West Wing.

Click to enlarge.

Obama’s West Wing Settles In

January 22, 2009

Day One at DHS Starts with 5 Directives

Filed under: Aviation Security,Infrastructure Protection,Risk Assessment,State and Local HLS,Strategy — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 22, 2009

Day One at DHS started with Secretary Napolitano at the helm issuing five Action Directives centered on the Protection mission for the Department. The directives request internal reviews to be conducted on how DHS protects critical infrastructure, conducts risk analysis, shares information with state and local authorities, “integration” of DHS engagement of states, localities, and tribes, and protection measures aimed at air, surface, and maritime transportation sector. The last one includes a “side by side comparison of the threat environment, resources and personnel devoted to each transportation sector.”

“One of my top priorities is to unify this department and to create a common culture. These action directives are designed to begin a review, evaluation and dialogue between the various functions of this department and me,” said Secretary Napolitano.

Further directives are expected to come soon concerning preparedness, response, recovery, and immigration.

Following is the text describing the directives as issued at DHS:

• Critical infrastructure protection. This core mission of DHS entails a broad mandate to reduce the vulnerability of key systems and structures to natural and manmade threats. DHS oversees the national critical infrastructure list and manages 18 infrastructure sectors established under Homeland Security Presidential Directive-7, with primary responsibility for information technology, telecommunications, chemical, transportation, emergency services, and postal and shipping. This entails extensive dealings with other federal agencies, states, and the private sector, involving collaboration, data collection, risk analysis, and sharing of best practices. What is the current status of the critical infrastructure list, relations with the 18 sector security councils and the other departments that have critical infrastructure protection roles? What are the plans to enhance protection? How do we enhance private sector participation? An oral report is due Jan. 28.

• Risk analysis. Given the extensive number of vulnerabilities to manmade and natural disasters and the limitations on resources, determining national priorities and the judicious distribution of resources are a major element of the department’s mission. What is the status of risk analysis metrics and what is the plan and time frame for setting up a full-blown system to govern the establishment of critical infrastructure programs, the priorities among national planning scenarios, and the distribution of grants to state, local, and tribal entities? More broadly, how can DHS enhance risk management as the basis of decision making? An oral report is due Jan. 28.

• State and local intelligence sharing. Core to the department’s ability to successfully carry out its mission is sharing information within the department, and between DHS and other federal, state, local, tribal, and private sector entities. Across the department there are currently multiple operational, technological, programmatic, and policy-related activities underway to focus on improved information sharing.

o Given the importance of this mission, please provide a complete inventory of all operational, programmatic, technology, and policy related activities currently underway.

o Provide an evaluation of which activities hold the most promise for achieving the smooth flow of information on a real time basis.
The inventory and evaluation should take into account the voices of all stakeholders, especially state, local and tribal entities.
The evaluation should also consider the private sector’s perspective and its relationship to these stakeholders.

o The inventory and evaluation should focus on ensuring that the department’s information sharing efforts are closely linked to government-wide efforts to establish the Information Sharing Environment as called for the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

o DHS Intelligence & Analysis should evaluate whether DHS is meeting all of its information sharing missions as described in Section 201(d) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, P.L. 107-296, especially Section 201(d)(1).

An oral report is due Jan. 28.

• Transportation security. TSA is directed to provide a review to the Secretary of the current strategies, plans and programs for security of the air, surface, and maritime transportation sector, to include a side by side comparison of the threat environment, resources and personnel devoted to each transportation sector. TSA shall coordinate, as necessary, with all pertinent components and offices in DHS, as well as with all relevant outside bodies and advisory councils. An oral report is due Jan. 28.

• State, local and tribal integration. To promote policies to more fully integrate American state, local, and tribal governments in the development of policies and programs to protect our nation and help it recover from natural and manmade disasters consistent with the homeland security interests of the United States, the DHS Office of Intergovernmental Affairs shall:

o Immediately contact every relevant governmental association, e.g. the National Governors Association, National Association of Counties, League of Cities and Towns, U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, National Emergency Management Association, and the National Congress of American Indians, announcing that DHS intends to revitalize its relationship with state, local, and tribal governments effective immediately with the intent of creating a working partnership.

o Immediately plan for an accelerated process of soliciting and collecting input from our state, local and tribal partners on how to improve the programs and processes of DHS.

o This input should include, but not be limited to, the following topics:
a. Critical infrastructure
b. Grant making
c. Interoperability
d. Intelligence collection and dissemination
e. Emergency services
A preliminary written report is due Feb. 10.

January 21, 2009

Day One Begins

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 21, 2009

What a day. I felt honored to attend yesterday’s swearing-in ceremony (and we enjoyed the Ball!). While I was fortunate to have attended the 2000 and 2004 ceremonies, needless to say yesterday’s was a powerful moment of progress in our country.

But this is a blog about homeland security. Readers may recall a series of posts here analyzing the homeland security positions of the presidential candidates in which I reviewed the tenets of then-Senator Obama’s platform. It included a broad set of goals to combat terrorist threats and keep Americans safer at home, including resilience, nonproliferation, public diplomacy, and information sharing.

Among our sources for that post was the campaign material and then the PTT site. The Transition site is now closed and the new Administration has begun use of whitehouse.gov. This includes a section on homeland security, which is noteworthy for how little has changed since the campaign.

Most campaigns make a lot of promises before being ratcheted back once governing begins. Today is day one. Much could change, but today we now have a new Homeland Security Secretary in Janet Napolitano. (The Senate confirmed her by voice vote yesterday.) And she has a strategic vision outlined by the president that is not much different from that which candidate Obama set forth.

You can review the Homeland Security agenda here.

January 19, 2009

FEMA Transition Binder Link

Filed under: Organizational Issues,Preparedness and Response — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 19, 2009

Thanks to Steven Aftergood at Federation of American Scientists, we’ve made the FEMA Transition Binder available at this link for download.

January 16, 2009

FEMA Transition Binder Blowback

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 16, 2009

My earlier post about the FEMA Transition Binder prompted a heck of a response. I just want you to know that I am recieving your emails, but it is taking a while to process them all (extract the email, then add it to G-Docs). That’s what I get for not walking the talk on web 2.0. Next time we’ll do this differently, I promise.

Thanks to Steven Aftergood at Federation of American Scientists, we’ve made the FEMA Transition Binder available at this link for download.

Napolitano Spells Out the Plan for DHS

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 16, 2009

Secretary-designate for DHS, Janet Napolitano, appeared yesterday before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs for her confirmation hearing. While responding to questions from the Senators, she outlined her concept of success should she be confirmed as the third Secretary of Homeland Security. In her words, “speed, skill, compassion, and common sense” are top attributes of success in the DHS mission going forward.

Governor Napolitano offered the following as top priorities for the next DHS Secretary:
1. Create a unified vision for DHS
2. Create a unified culture through consistent guidance on such practices as acquisition and management
3. Recruit the best and brightest for nominees in other DHS slots
4. Complete the work of transition, such as gaining a better grasp of parts of DHS yet unknown to her

In a powerful gesture of bipartisanship and support, Senators McCain and Kyl introduced Napolitano to the panel. Each of the Senators who participated in the hearing – Lieberman, Collins, McCaskill, Akaka, Landrieu, Tester, Voinovich, and Carper – appeared to support the Arizona governor’s nomination. They praised her experience, but the nominee also had a few areas she acknowledged as in need of her immediate attention.

As a border governor, Napolitano brings useful credibility to the border security effort, but she cited the need for her to familiarize herself with the northern border. The Senators raised this frequently, too. She also suggested that the federal government cannot accomplish the homeland security mission without a more inclusive role for the states and localities on the front lines across the country.

The hearing was not without its parochialism in that the Senator from Maine urged “a baseline of [homeland security] capabilities in every state,” the sponsor of the failed comprehensive immigration reform praised the nominee for agreeing with him and expected her to pick up the torch, and the distinguished gentleman from Hawaii requested support from DHS to impose rules on foreign shippers traveling through the island waters.

Other issues the panel raised were spot on. For example, Sen. Landrieu (LA) passionately advocated for interoperable communications for first responders. Indeed, nearly every Senator spoke of that as a priority goal. Border security – specifically including the northern border – enjoyed attention, and so did REAL ID, which was almost uniformly criticized. Cyber security, to be sure, was cited by nearly all as a worthy priority.

What did we learn about the next Secretary of Homeland Security? She is close to the President-elect and consistent with his message of desired change, inclusiveness, and plain smart decision-making for the greater good. She’s able to handle the Hill, and has numerous endorsements from interest groups. But other indicators of her leadership priorities come through in the answers to her pre-hearing questions (all 83 pages of them). From them we can learn a lot. For example, Secretary-designate Napolitano:

• Recognizes the value of the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (see Sections II and III of the pre-hearing questions);

• Hasn’t taken a position on White House management of the policy process viz. the HSC and NSC (see question 8 of the pre-hearing questions);

• Is intent on strengthening the international affairs capacity of DHS (see her response to question 18 of the pre-hearing questions).

Finally, Napolitano’s words on DHS management indicate the kind of professional management priorities she and the President-elect have in store for the Department. Napolitano offers to focus on an approach that:

• Provides structure to strengthen unified organizational governance and enhance Department-wide communication, decision-making, and oversight;

• Optimizes processes and systems to integrate functional operations and facilitate cross-component collaboration, and streamline coordination to ensure reliable and efficient support of mission objectives;

• Fosters leadership that adheres to the core values and guiding principles of DHS in performing duties, effecting progress, and leading with commitment for the mission; and

• Leverages culture and the benefits of commonalities and differences across components to promote cooperative intra- and inter-agency networks to implement best practices.

January 15, 2009

DHS Secretary Designate Napolitano Hearing Today

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 15, 2009

With the confirmation hearings for DHS Secretary-Nominee Janet Napolitano scheduled for today at 10AM, numerous analyses and interviews continue to highlight the potential priorities and difficulties for the next DHS leader. In speaking of his nominee, President-Elect Obama declared she will be the “leader who can reform a sprawling department while safeguarding our homeland,” while facing the critical issues of border security, immigration, and DHS integration. For her part, Napolitano spoke some on her view of border security in an interview with a local Arizona television station, relating the importance of technology and strategy.

I’ll attend today’s hearing and blog about it as soon as I can.

Meanwhile, the Heritage Foundation highlighted a list of questions for the nominee that Senators should consider asking Napolitano, including Visa Waiver Reform, FEMA, Homeland Security Grant Reform, and 100 Percent cargo screening mandate, in addition to immigration and border security.

FEMA Transition Binder

Filed under: Organizational Issues,Preparedness and Response — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 15, 2009

In the spirit of transparency, HLSwatch.com was sent a copy of the FEMA Transition Binder, which is used to facilitate the hand-off to the Obama Administration. The Transition is nearly over, so I am making it available as a google doc for you. (Our servers can’t handle the 6MB upload. It is an impressive piece of work at 238 pages.) Please email me [jonah.hlswatch at gmail dot com] to request an invitation to download it.

If you have time to peruse that tome, then you have time to let us know what you think of it. Be sure to comment below.


January 14, 2009

The Monster That Ate Law Enforcement

Filed under: Preparedness and Response,State and Local HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 14, 2009

“All my community policing grants turned into fire trucks, and homeland security became the monster that ate law enforcement.” While he may not be originally from Milwaukee, the police chief of my home town demonstrates a familiar flair that reminds me of Brew Town.

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn spoke yesterday at a two-day conference entitled “Shaping the Obama Administration’s Counterterrorism Strategy.” Flynn focused his remarks on the disconnect between what front line law enforcement sees as useful for collecting intelligence and combating crime and terrorism and what the federal agencies believe the states need. This disconnect was a concern before DHS stood up, which is why the state grants program was instituted, and it proved to be an ongoing issue as the UASI grants began to flow and when the Office of State and Local Government Coordination came to be.

Flynn was chief in Arlington on 9/11 and responded to the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon. He told the conference attendees that “The most frustrating, difficult experience of my life [has been] dealing with the federal departments.” That has to change.

While observers worry that the shift at the Obama White House to consolidate the Homeland Security Council with the more powerful National Security Council is a step in the wrong direction for states and localities, a different disconnect may be present. What Flynn was saying is that federal homeland security grants too often focus on tangible capital assets that are more useful for emergency response. He believes that training and enlarging police forces can pay significant dividends toward preventing homeland security lapses.

So as the Obama administration takes the reigns, two important issues must be addressed regarding the coordination between states/localities and DHS. First, the former needs to have a more productive seat at the table for influencing the best application of federal grant money when it comes to local efforts to protect the homeland. The former head of these DHS grants spoke on the same panel as Chief Flynn and admitted failed attempts to do so, losing out to “the bureaucracy.”

Second, the federal government – including those in Congress – must appreciate the value of longer-term investments in human capital at the local level. Many at DHS already understand this, but it is critical that such a shift in investments be enabled from DHS leadership and the Congress. It will take an understanding of the value of preventive capabilities, not just those for response, i.e. fire trucks.

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