Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

May 28, 2009

HSC, NSC, NSS: this is how sausage is made

Filed under: Organizational Issues,Strategy — by Philip J. Palin on May 28, 2009

Yesterday morning the Homeland Security Policy Institute hosted a great discussion of the President’s decision to merge the Homeland Security Council and National Council Staffs into a new National Security Staff.  You can view a video of the event (80 minutes) from the George Washington University website.

This is a remarkably open and detailed discussion of the process undertaken,  recommendations made, and follow-on plans. 

John Brennan, the current and continuing Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (AP-HSCT) opened by saying the President was clear that in undertaking the study, ”don’t do anything to diminish the focus and attention on Homeland Security matters.”

The PSD-1 Review makes fifteen specific recommendations:

1. Retain position of Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.

2.  Fill the position of Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security (DAP/HS).

3. Integrate the NSC staff and HSC staff into one National Security Staff that reports to the National Security Advisor.

4.  Transfer responsibility for long-term recovery policy and coordination outside National Security Staff.

5.  Continue the statutory Homeland Security Council (cabinet and sub-cabinet).

6.  Codify AP/HSCT and DAP/HS ability to convene and chair Principals Committees and Deputies Committees.

7.  Establish Interagency Policy Committee’s for homeland security and CT issue.

8.  Clarify the DC-CSG-DRG relationship during domestic incidents. (DC: Deputies Committee, CSG: Counterterrorism Security Group, and DRG: Domestic Readiness Group; these are related to both Presidential Decision Directive 1 and the National Response Framework, gotta love alphabet soup)

9.  Better integrate state/local/tribal, public and  private sector into the policy process.

10. Develop a single National Security Strategy that adresses the full range of security issues  for the country, including homeland security issues.

11. Provide clear policy priorities. 

12.  Inculcate a culture of inclusion and integration within the NSS.

13.  Attract and empower the right people to the NSS.

14.  Institutionalize a culture of collaboration within the NSS.

15.  Codify key decisions from PSD-1 review in a new Presidential Decision Directive.

 My principal concern regarding the elimination of a distinct HSC staff relates to a further diminished voice for state and local priorities and potentially less attention to domestic prevention and resilience.  In her presentation of findings, Dr. Michele Malvesti seemed especially keen to alleviate such concerns.  She emphasized recommendations to:

  • Attract and hire state, local, tribal, and private sector professionals into the new National Security Staff.
  • Reinvigorate advisory councils related to homeland security issues and involve advisory council members with non-federal backgrounds.
  • Engage state, local, and private sector leaders early-on in the policy-making process.

In discussing the development of a new National Security Strategy Dr. Malvesti noted a particular need to ensure that homeland security issues, ”are not inadvertently trumped by other security challenges.”

There is a great deal of substance in the 80 minute session.  Please view and then return to the comment section with questions and concerns.   As a reader noted yesterday, this is not just a matter of structure.  This is fundamental to how homeland security will be framed, defined, and executed in the years ahead. 

Here are some aspects of the HSPI briefing that I consider worth our specific follow-up:

  1. Resilience as a goal and center of gravity
  2. Is prevention part of resilience?
  3. Whither goest recovery?

(I have been roaming far outside the beltway for the last few weeks.  I especially thank Arnold, a regular reader and contributor, for pointing me to the HSPI event.)

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 28, 2009 @ 8:10 am

This is a great post and very useful and thanks to HSPI! It is too bad however that such an important event would not be picked up more generally. But at least captured and very helpful to understanding that OBAMA wanted to have his cake and eat it too. Now the tough part will be drafting the new Presidential Decision Directive and guess how many STATE, LOCAL, TRIBAL experts or officals will be found to have the background and clearances for participation in NSS staff. It is now averaging almost 10-20 months for initial clearances so again personnel security effective veto over real full participation. And as to continuation of HSC advisory groups it appears to me that almost no recommendations of those groups have been followed (some very good recommendations in my opinion) and almost no follow up on suggestions for further study and analysis. In fact in most of DHS they have never seen or heard of the HSC advisory group recommendations. DHS is still largely a command driven authoritarian management style and not cooperative and collaborative. Let’s hope for the best. I do like the notion of NSS being more cooperative and collaborative but usually egos, hubris, and misuse of “need-to-know” prevent such from happening. One of the interesting things is that almost no records of internal NSC discussions are or have turned up from any President in their libraries. Hoping all the HSC materials will be indexed and made available. Again our democracy is premised on an informed public so hoping again that secrecy does not kill our democracy (republic). Thanks again for summary and video. DOES GWU have copyright on the video?

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