In furtherance of the Obama Administration’s tech-saavy, public-friendly approach to governance, DHS unveiled its “National Dialogue on the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review” today at http://www.homelandsecuritydialogue.org. DHS is inviting the public to give its opinions between today and August 9 on proposals made by QHSR study groups in four different study areas and two process study areas, including:
- Counter-terrorism and Domestic Security Management
- Securing Our Borders
- Smart and Tough Enforcement of Immigration Laws
- Preparing for, Responding to, and Recovering from Disasters
- Homeland Security National Risk Assessment
- Homeland Security Planning and Capabilities
This is the first of three “dialogues” with the American public to be held during the summer and fall. Dialogue 2 is scheduled for August 31-September 6 and will have more information and content from the QHSR study groups on the mission and process concepts. Dialogue 3, scheduled from September 28 through October 4, will give the public and stakeholders one more opportunity to review and offer comments on the “refined mission goals, objectives, key strategic outcomes and enhancements” to the six priorities.
According to DHS officials, the dialogues are intended to transform how the agency engages the American public with regards to an all-hazards approach to homeland security and counter-terrorism. They are also intended to meet the consultation mandate included in 2007’s 9/11 bill (aka “The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007”). That bill required the Secretary to conduct the QHSR in consultation with
- the “heads of Federal Agencies” (including the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Secretaries of State, Defense, Health & Human Services, Treasury, and Agriculture);
- key officials of DHS; and
- other relevant governmental and nongovernmental entities, including State, local, and tribal government officials, members of Congress, private sector representatives, academics, and other policy experts.
Overall, the Web 2.0 idea is a fresh approach to communicating to and with the public (at least the connected public) on addressing homeland security issues. The website, hosted by the National Academy of Public Administration, is easy to navigate and provides a mission statement on each item, as well as goals. Reviewers who log in are giving the opportunity to rate whether they agree with the overall statements and provide comments. Additionally, participants can suggest their own ideas and alternative proposals for the six study areas. To date, it appears that between 9 and 44 persons have logged in to provide ratings and comments.
The real test of the success of the dialogues will come over the next several days when we see how many citizens log in and upload thoughts and ideas for DHS. Even a bigger test will be whether those who do offer opinions are “outside the Beltway,” offering local perspectives from New York, Atlanta, Houston, Peoria, and beyond. Input from those communities would strengthen the QHSR and be in line with Secretary Napolitano’s comments last week at the Council of Foreign Relations that communities are our “greatest asset” and “you are the ones who know if something is not right in your communities.”
I would encourage anyone reading this to check out the site and offer your thoughts on the goals and priorities of the QHSR. Even better, once you finish doing that, share the site with a few (or few hundred) of your friends around the country so they can do the same.