Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 3, 2009

A Web 2.0 Dialogue on QHSR

Filed under: DHS News,Events,General Homeland Security — by Jessica Herrera-Flanigan on August 3, 2009

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:

Mission Studies:

  • Counter-terrorism and Domestic Security Management
  • Securing Our Borders
  • Smart and Tough Enforcement of Immigration Laws
  • Preparing for, Responding to, and Recovering from Disasters

Process Studies:

  • 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.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

August 3, 2009 @ 10:24 pm

Okay a quibble! Would that DHS had started this conversation 2.0 by identifying what they think the problems are they are facing and current approaches! Let’s take preparing for, responding to, and recovering from disasters, as an example. GAO and DHS/OIG have documented existing problems. And existing gaps in policies and processes of DHS. I could suggest that my input in most of these areas would merely be a recital of GAO/OIG observations and findings. But of course my favorite is never listed and that of course stems from Presidential failure to creata a domestic crisis management system and domestic chain of command. FEMA for example fails in almost anyway that can be imagined outside distribution of money and information. Both of which it does inefficiently which has been documented repeated since its founding as an independent agency in 1979 and now its re-establishment as a statutory entity on April 1, 2007 within DHS. These failures cannot be compensated for by suggestions but only when DHS recognizes the problems. So how about just listing the top ten problem issues DHS management faces in the missions assigned and the two process study areas, risk assessment and capabilities. Personally I don’t think given the mission assignments and the policies and capabilties currently existing in DHS it can accomplish its missions. One as identified by the Secretary is the lack of a unifying culture. DHS is stovepiped between those who wear uniforms, wear guns and badges, and have security clearances. Others are view as second class citizens because they have none of these and guess what also have to wait until age 55 and 30 years of service to qualify for retirement. The quadrennial review process and the dialogue relationship are not at all clear. Perhaps the opaqueness of DHS operations will be revealed by the competence with which they assist HHS/CDC with the challenges of Pandemic Flu.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 3, 2009 @ 10:35 pm

Just a footnote–the Public Administration types talk about the culture needed for a governmental organization to become a learning organization. OKAY let’s see how fast the initial results from NLE V are released publically and when released is there an indication that from real world events or the TOPOFF Exercises I-IV they are repetitive problems. And were they defects in plans and procedures? Defects in training? Or were some of the players just untrainable? So the bottom line is what are the corrective actions taken by DHS from the NLE V exercise and are they problems identified correctly and fully. Who were the observers of the exercise and who exactly were the players? Oh! And finally I guess I would like to know who were the contractors for all phases of the exercises, including those that inject MSELs and assumed facts? Also what were the evaluation criteria if any? What review will be made of the messages sent out as Emergency Public Information? Was the Scenario completed to its full extent or was the exercise called early? How much of the exercise was unclassified? Etc, etc, etc.!

Comment by Clinton J. Andersen

August 4, 2009 @ 1:57 am

William, I constantly read the blogs out there and always see your name. Do you ever get any feedback from those running these sites? At times it seems as if this is a one way street where others post their thoughts but could care less about others opinions, experiences, insights, etc.

Comment by Bob Greenberg

August 4, 2009 @ 6:40 am

While I agree that there are a lot of things about the practices of the Department that are frustrating I give them great kudo’s for using this means to get input on what they are doing and what they should be doing.While the reports from GAO and OIG are important and very useful, the most important input has to come from the practitioners in the field. DHS is making a concerted effort to get input from them for this Review and the success of this effort will hinge on that. I would encourage everyone who is active in this area in any way to encourage practitioners – especially at the state and local level – to participate and get their colleagues to participate. I would also encourage DHS to continue this open dialogue even after the Review is over.

Pingback by Homeland in a Haiku | Homeland Security Watch

August 4, 2009 @ 7:51 am

[…] with the American people through the use of social media and Web 2.0.  Indeed, yesterday I wrote of how the agency was garnering opinions and thoughts on the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review […]

Pingback by At “Blogger Roundtable” To Launch Homeland Security “Dialogue”, DHS Policy Head Heyman Asks For “Shareholders” Input As Part Of “Shared Responsibility” To Help Protect The Nation

August 4, 2009 @ 8:34 am

[…] participating in the Blogger Roundtable were Security Debrief’s Rich Cooper, Jessica Herrera-Flanigan from HLS Watch, Nextgov.com’s Jill Aitoro, and Spencer Ackerman of The Washington […]

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 4, 2009 @ 10:02 am

Hey Mr. Anderson! Actually I do get quite a bit of feedback on many of my postings. Sometimes off-line as from Chris and Phil. But perhaps more important to me is that I have found some evidence of themes I strike being picked up by those in charge of various programs, functions, and activities. And I seem to have almost a running conversation with CRS, GAO, DHS/OIG and various Congressional committees and staffs. Interestingly, some other blogs I found out about because the original contributor to this blog, Christian Beckner expended the time and effort to create a great list of Homeland Security and National Security blogs as additional bloggin references to this one. Hey thanks for asking and hoping my comments provide some food for thought at least one out of every 10 times for readers. And of course thanks to Phil and Chris for their incredible patience with me and my various whims and areas of ignorance.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 4, 2009 @ 10:06 am

Apologies to Mr. Andersen for mis-spelling his name. I know how many times the “son’s” and “sen’s” have to live with the mis-spelling. Just as the administrative process loves to as an “S” to my name. Guess its a penalty for the Clan Cumming (originally “Comeyn” in Norman France) being largely wiped out in the 13th century for siding with William Wallace.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 4, 2009 @ 4:48 pm

Mr. Andersen:

I appreciate your question and Bill Cumming’s response. I will mention that there are plenty of days that would seem plenty lonely if Bill Cumming was not adding to, disagreeing with, or otherwise engaging with something I posted. Further, nothing pleases me more than when I see a discussion among the commentators. I would consider HLSwatch a much greater success if we had half our current readership, but had ten or twelve thoughtful comments on each post. (Which would probably spur greater readership.)

I do not often comment “behind the wall.” Mostly this is a matter of time. I am still employed full-time in a role that often has me off-line. There is also a tendency, at least it seems to me, at most blogs for most contributors — very much including myself — to be more “presentational” rather than “conversational.” It is easy to invite controversy, which is not a personal goal. It is much more difficult to invite a true conversation. It has happened a few times over the last six months, but less often than I would welcome.

To be explict: I read every comment and often reflect on them. I appreciate them, even when they trouble me… and some do very much trouble me. But I have only censored two comments that I perceived to be ad hominem attacks on another commentator.

Pingback by Making meaning of the QHSR | Homeland Security Watch

August 7, 2009 @ 3:55 am

[…] If you didn’t notice, these are the four external elements of the Secretary’s oft-repeated five responsibilities (or priorities or goals… the nature-of-being  can shift ever so subtly) plus two processes that might influence how the responsibilities are fulfilled. (Please see Jessica Flanigan-Herrera’s prior post on the National Dialogue.)  […]

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 7, 2009 @ 12:35 pm

Here’s to Phil’s continuing “Conversation” although I also like his “Presentations.” Ah to be as well informed in the classics as PHIL! Speaking of the classical world read not to long ago the book “Sailing the Wine Dark Sea–What the Greeks Gave Western Civilization”! A wonderful little book that pointed out to me that even Hugh Heffner owed a lot to the Greeks!
Another interesting tome about the classical world recently completed was by a British historian supposedly the best in Britain on the classical world called “From Homer to Hadrian” and updating what we know even from recent archelogical finds. Seems the Greeks process of ostracism resulted in many western mediterranean cities being establish. WOW! And the keep finding new Greek cities in the Western med. Almost as good as uncovering all those Mayan sites in MEZO-AMERICA! Of course we do know the Greeks at least had “Wheels.” An interesting new book would be to follow up “SALT”; “COFFEE”, and “FIRE” one on the wheel (is this one of the seven basic tools–don’t remember except for lever and inclined plane–anyhow I wonder how invention of the wheel spurred intellectual though? Did not Copernicus think of the universe in the contest of a wheel? Just changed out the spoke! And of course as always prompted by Phil and Chris’ thoughts and musing having great fun (hopefully with undercurrent of seriousness).

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