The Obama Administration continues to use blogs and other social media to get citizens more involved in governing. According to the Federal Times, “The traditional [rule making] approach [to the regulatory process] relies on a back-and-forth dialogue between the rule-issuing agency and affected groups that comment in writing on draft rules. The new approach would expand that so the debate on future rules includes interested groups and citizens.”
To me, the “new” part of this is using 2.0 technologies to actively solicit citizen involvement.
The idea might eventually make its way into the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR), a process that already includes “stakeholders.”
Stakeholders is an interesting word, originally referring to someone who holds the bets while a game is going on. Stakeholders no longer stay on the sidelines. They haven’t for awhile. I suppose just holding the money was ultimately not as rewarding as getting into the game.
The QHSR legislation requires DHS to “comprehensively examine the homeland security strategy, make recommendations regarding the long-term homeland security strategy and priorities, and provide guidance on the programs, assets, capabilities, budget, policies, and authorities of the Department of Homeland Security.”
What would it be like if regular people got involved in the QHSR? — people not directly affiliated with the “more than 100 associations” who got a June 3rd email explaining “the QHSR process and scope and requesting substantive input … by June 26th.”
Several months ago, the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School (where I work) sponsored an essay contest open to just about anyone interested in homeland security. The theme was to offer some homeland security-related advice to the new administration. (Information about the wining essay and finalists can be found here )
The contest generated about 150 responses. Some of the essays were spectacular. A few made me fear for my country. But all of them came from the hearts and minds of people who care about homeland security not because it’s their job, but because they want to make the nation safer and more secure. I wonder how many other Americans would jump at the chance to become involved in the first ever Quadrennial Homeland Security Review?
Here, and in future posts, I will share some of the insights offered by people who wrote essays.
These people aren’t stakeholders in the institutional sense. They are Americans who want to get off the sidelines and get into the game. As one of the essayists wrote: “We must all become stakeholders in the process of our protection.” The QHSR might provide an opportunity to advance that goal.
Here (lightly edited) are some of the ideas:
1. Replace “Homeland” with “Domestic.” What a ridiculous word “homeland” has turned out to be! Abolish it from the U.S. government. The Constitution used the word “domestic tranquility” not “homeland tranquility.” We have a National Football League, not a Homeland Football League. “Homeland” sounds like a word from Nazi Germany or from the Borat movie. It is not part of the U.S. culture – replace it across the board with “domestic.”
2. Develop a comprehensive trust architecture to protect computer systems and data.
3. Establish a national resiliency award to recognize efforts to create resilient critical infrastructure.
4. Leaders should take the time to walk around DHS and talk to the people on the ground about how things are going.
5. Link emergency response and public health with the poison control system to increase collaboration and coordination during disasters and emergencies.
6. Create a national intelligence fusion center network that formally links state, local and federal fusion centers.
7. Enact a Goldwater-Nichols style program to help integrate DHS agencies.
8. While seeking to improve the security of the homeland, do not neglect or abandon the country’s well-tested comprehensive emergency management system.
9. The President should shift the focus of homeland security away from the vague, immeasurable purpose of combating international counterterrorism and instead focus on returning the primary responsibility for the security of America back to the American people.
10. Make sure President Obama does not take unnecessary risks and identify and neutralize those who would do him harm.
11. In order to accomplish the objectives of the National Strategy for Homeland Security and ensure that the many different agencies and organizations responsible for implementing homeland defense programs across all levels of government conduct business in a manner that justifies the continued large scale spending, we need to enforce consistent performance measures with real repercussions for those who do not meet the standards.
12. Homeland security and defense of this nation is everybody’s problem, challenge and responsibility – say it early and often, in words and deeds.
13. I suggest that President Obama’s administration consider the establishment of a Department of Homeland Security Initiative for Community Empowerment and Security (ICES) that focuses upon utilizing (and improving upon) the existing relationship between the Department of Homeland Security and local populations, schools, and businesses through city government.
14. Clarify and redefine not only the purpose of Homeland Security, but its scope and priorities.
15. Radical Islamic terrorism and illegal immigration are the two most important threats to the security of the homeland.
16. Another approach [to improving intelligence] is to use a sport model: hire intelligence professionals who are “at the top of their game,” pay them accordingly and let them go when they no longer bring value to their field.
17. The events of September 11 have revealed the United States to be in much greater jeopardy from international terrorism than had previously been believed. It stands to reason that our civil liberties will be curtailed. They should be curtailed, to the extent that the benefits in greater security outweigh the costs in reduced liberty. All that can be reasonably asked of the responsible legislative and judicial officials is that they weigh the costs as carefully as the benefits.
18. I propose a link between the theories of Osinga, Boyd and Orr, using Information Theory and mathematics to define the elements that would be used to comprehend and then disrupt an enemy information network.
19. I came on [Border patrol] duty with a base pay of $28,000 per year. My pay has almost tripled; the benefits are good, especially for my family if I die on the line of duty. Muslim extremists on the other hand do not take on a radical cause for money or benefits. They fight for a greater cause. In their minds we are the enemy against their religion. Moreover, their religion is their life. Conversely some Muslim extremists dedicate and give their lives to a terrorist cause. The sooner we realize as a nation what we are against, the better off we will be.
20. If you really want to know what the American people think, ask them. Pick up the phone, call a number, and ask whoever answers what they think. They will tell you.