Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

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.

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 24, 2009 @ 1:15 pm

Okay there is that terrible homily that a fool may ask more questions than a wise man may answer yet these seem like good subjects for the Secretary to question. Also a bit worrisome is that they show up as Press Releases, because I assume there were underlying memorandums assigning to the appropriate components the activity of answering. On that key point, who she assigned the answers to would be revealing because some of these clearly involve multimple components. And interesting labeling them as Directives as opposed to taskers of some other form. Usually government parlance has a “Directive” as a permanent institutional policy and process guidance document requiring intra-departmental clearance for before its signature and implementation. Just remember that the Rumsfeld “Snowflakes” were definitely issued but seldom answered since no formal tracking system ever seemed to exist. Hey bureacracies are not built ususually on individual genius so in this case demanding high quality staff work is a must. Based on what I have seen of DHS internal staff work seldon did high quality staffwork get produced under Secretary Ridge, and while more did get produced under Secretary Chertoff (after all he was formerly a Circuit Judge)it still could be improved. Just an opinion of mine but I personally think while the subjects are fine the turnaround times are unreasonable and reflect a proper desire to show urgency but not necessarily care and thoughtfulness. And by the way I would have thought briefing material existed already on most of these subjects. If so then the short time-frame may just result in cutting and pasting by the bureacracy and no real thoughtfulness and analysis. The Secretary’s top concern in my judgement at this point is to find out what decisions are buried in the back and forth between DHS and OMB on the submission of the FY 2010 budget and passbacks so far. After all OMB is the Court of Appeals for any Executive Branch Department or Agency. Also she could ask for each component to give her or her key staff copies of the exchange of correspondence between DHS, its subcomponents and other federal departments and agencies in the last year. Then she can really get a sense of the relationship. NOTE the omission of DOJ from her target list. Just because she was a US Attorny she may believe she understands DOJ completely but she may be in for a shock when she sees how MAIN JUSTICE treats Department Secretaries. Oh and does she have already all the DOJ/OLC opinions on her desk issued to DHS since March 1, 2003? Now that would be insightful of the relationship! And by the way who does she think on her staff will be the primary shock absorber with DOD and DOD?

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