Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 5, 2010

QHSR: We have a strategy, what now?

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Jessica Herrera-Flanigan on February 5, 2010

When Congress passed the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, it required the Department of Homeland Security to prepare a Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) to assess the status of our nation’s homeland security efforts and to “delineate and update, as appropriate, the national security strategy,” and to “outline and prioritize the full range of the critical homeland security mission areas of the Nation.”

The idea of requiring a QHSR had been discussed by the House Homeland Security Committee as early as 2005.  Members and staff had tried to figure out a way to organize the Department’s strategic thinking and to prevent what we saw at the time as a constant reshuffling and rebirth of programs and policies, as well as the development of strategy after strategy depending on the revolving group of people circulating through the agency.  The idea was to add formality to the agency’s strategic thinking and encourage it to follow the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) developed by the Defense Department.

This past week, DHS released its first QHSR, after having held many meetings and a unique online dialogue to elicit comments from various stakeholders, interested parties, and citizens.  So what does the report tell us about our homeland security efforts and the path forward?

First, it lays out the threats and hazards, as well as the global challenges and trends. Fortunately, it does so graphically as well as through text. Here is the handy visual provided by DHS:

 The report goes on to explain that there are three concepts that form the foundation for a comprehensive approach to homeland security:

Security: Protect the U.S. and its people, vital interests, and way of life;

Resilience: Foster individual, community, and system robustness, adaptability, and capacity for rapid recovery; and

Customs & Exchange: Expedite and enforce lawful trade, travel, and immigration.

After laying out the foundation of homeland security, the report goes on to discuss the five homeland security missions.  Again, a handy graphic is provided:

HOMELAND SECURITY MISSIONSThe report delineates under each goal specific objectives that the agency is striving for in the next four years.  The objectives are broad and often evoke what many would consider common sense. For example, in the section relating to cybersecurity (which falls under Mission 4 above), the following objective is identified:

Understand and prioritize cyber threats Identify and evaluate the most
dangerous threats to Federal civilian and private-sector networks and the
The speed of innovation in the cyber realm requires that sharing of
information and analysis occur before malicious actors can exploit
vulnerabilities.  We must continuously sharpen our understanding of risks to our
critical information infrastructure.  Risk management decisions must incorporate
cyber risks based on technological as well as nontechnological factors, and must
address the differing levels of security required by different activities.
Information and intelligence regarding emerging cyber threats and
vulnerabilities must be collected, analyzed, and shared appropriately and
promptly.  Homeland security partners must provide and receive information
and assessments on risks to and incidents involving information systems,
networks, and data in time to carry out their risk management responsibilities.
Finally, homeland security partners must use compatible information
architecture and data standards to maximize the appropriate acquisition, access,
retention, production, use, management, and safeguarding of risk information.

A common theme and finding throughout the QHSR? Homeland security is a BIG issue and requires lots of information sharing, collaboration, cooperation, and getting along. That said, the QHSR may help us identify what we are dealing with across the broad spectrum of homeland security but will it take us to the next step?  Is this a strategy that means something or will it become another strategy on the dust-covered shelves of homeland security strategies since 2001?

Hopefully, it will be the first and will help the Department move past its infancy stage, become a more efficient operation that is successful as “ONE DHS.”  And maybe, just maybe, that much needed collaboration with international, federal, state, local, and tribal partners will follow.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

February 6, 2010 @ 12:48 am

Well the basics are there. First, Goals. Second a strategy to meet those goals but somewhat lacking in the intermediate steps to reach those goals.

I would also add the word coordination, to cooperation and collaboration. In large scale events coordination of effort [see Haiti response] can be very difficult even if all willing to be cooperative and collaborative.

Thus, still needed a domestic civil management and response system and chain of command! Perhaps a new goal just in case the worse case is realized.

Comment by bellavita

February 6, 2010 @ 1:26 am

One of my favorite sentences, William, from the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review on your point:

Moving from a top-down, command and control model to a more bottom-up approach in homeland security will require greater dynamic coordination—where individuals, communities, and other stakeholders at all levels understand their roles and are empowered with information, resources, and the capability to be part of our national effort to protect ourselves.

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 6, 2010 @ 9:04 am

Chris’ comment makes me realize that perhaps at least part of the DHS is a learning organization and hopefully the QHSR authors are representative and not isolated within DHS.

Unfortunately I continue to hear stories of authoritarian management styles which if true will break DHS in the short and long run. Fortunately, I do keep hearing that within FEMA Craig Fugate has done an admirable job of listening and learning to his staff and employees and keeping his eye on the ball. I don’t know whether this is a good or bad thing but apparently FEMA on its way to 4,000 FTEs and perhaps 10,000 DAE and CORE employees. That is the base probably needed given historic turnover and learning curves generally. What I don’t know is how much of th increase was pre-Craig Fugate and just an opportunity for FEMA to be loaded up with those of certain political beliefs before January 20, 2009. Administrator Fugate is himself a wonderful example of the fact that if merit staffing and non-partisanship and bi-partisanship should be elemental in FEMA because of the inherent nature of the disaster universe then the
best and the brightest should be there and hopefully attracted by generally a do good mission. Of course I am concerned that for almost two decades compliance and enforcement staff for mitigation grants and administrative regulations has take a back seat to getting funding to the states for preparedness, response, and recovery. And many communities just don’t see able to grasp that technology has provided new opportunities. For example, the old style centralized large scale hospital operation represented by Charity Hospital in NOLA might better be a dispersed medical system dispersed into the community. At one time, e.g. the City of Baltimore had Public Health nurses assigned 12 square block areas to provide a medical presence including emergency delivery of babies. Why is that not still a good model? So good luck to FEMA and DHS and hoping that the QHSR is read and understood for its significance. I do like the fact that “resilience” seems to be an adminstrative focus! And of course my most basic question is DHS “resilient”? Meaning is it more than one or two deep on expertise and competent in all programs, functions, and activities? How does it inventory and mobilize all of its assets for large scale events? Personally if I was Secretary I would campaign to double the funding and staffing of the Coast Guard. To the point of resigning if that could not happen. Why make this point? The Coasties have a huge budget reduction in the administrations proposed budget. Hoping Congress documents how that cut was arrived at by DHS and OMB and the President. Another new idea! Just give the Coasties 10% of each year’s Naval budget (I don’t mean cut the Navy 10% but just use it as a measuring stick)! Also if Secretary Gates is serious perhaps on evolution of the Armed Forces and DOD perhaps it is time to give the Coast Guard directly to DOD and it can teach the other services how an outstanding military/civil organization operates.

Comment by christopher tingus

February 6, 2010 @ 11:20 am

Dear Mr. President,

I am hoping that you and your staff read this blog faithfully and appreciate as so many do even here from Main Street USA, the invaluable articles and contributions, the articulate viewpoints expressed by William Cumming and others at a time when AQ and especially the Taliban seeking our demise as well as raping and killing women and children. A muslim world which seeks to glorify the killing of innocents who have no access to government officials or doctrine, however Muslims encouraging youth to pack a bomb and blow up other humans created by our Creator and they profess that one will be in paradise and virgins will delight them….

How disheartening a world we live in…what a world of dastardly deed, evil in nature.
Men in Arabic lands frightened by lipstick and women freed from bond, individualism, independence and the continued task to assure that Life of the new born continue amidst all this violence.

Mr. President, you have visited Europe twice in December, one to Oslo and then to Copenhagen. A medal and check and then to participate in a waning discussion pertinent to global climate.

Just as I have found taking the reigns away from the DoD when it comes to Haiti and transferring to State and the disorganization and delayed response to Haiti because folks are worried that it does not look as though we are conducting a military ops campaign in Haiti, your cancellation of scheduled appearance at the Us-EU summit in Spain, the first sitting President in 17 years to cancel at a time when we truly need a strong foreign policy and geopolitical strategy, at a time when the Institute of Contemporary History, a Munich-based organization vowing to print an annotated version of Mein Kamf and at a time when our apparent weakness in resilience and response to local DHS/FEMA scenarios and an obvious laqck of same as foreign policy “experts” do not understand foreign policy in the 21st century when we seem to prefer to take the path of less challenge and abdicate power to the EU, which Sir, with the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty establishing a hugh superpower and you, Sir, listen to folks who tell you to cancel your participation in the US-EU Summit in Spain in May.

Well, Mr. President, here on Main Street, we do read this very important blog. We have discussions surrounding the great contributions and comments and we do this at the coffee shop while listening to both CNN and Fox. We have all run to get our guns and ammunition. Even you mentioned this past week how we here on Main Street USA are worrisome and distrust our very own government. We here on Cape Cod and along the Jersey shore and other see what the Coast Guard is capable of accomplishing in the roughest weather as well as in surveillance.

No we do not like Barney Frank nor Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reed and his generational comments. No we do not want our healthcare run by the government. Yes, we agree costs must be contained and fraud identified.
We want smaller government. We want to know that in all the years that have passed since 911, agencies are talking to one another, not the same ‘ol, same ‘ol politicizing and competing for budgetary monies.

We are at war globally and we are an embattled nation within, mostly because those who pledged their commitment to public service with modest salary have turned our “entrusted” suppot by precious vote into an occupation of self-agenda. We have seen the premise, “bankers are thieves” come to play, however those who pledge to the flag and to this great nation affording hope to those in despair, well, Sir, from here on Main Street USA, we encourage you to change your mind and attend the US-EU summit. You found it worthwhile to fly to Cairo early on and address the Muslim community, while you have still not found it necessary to visit Jerusalem and address the knesset. I (we) remind you, you have been elected to be the President of the United States and you have canncelled your participation with the German-led EU. The Lisbon Treaty and even your Nobel Peace Prize and all else is a strategy and while I have reiterated to the Taliban and especially AQ, it is not WE, the USA that is your problem, it is the ever growing German-led EU supported by the powerful and political Vatican which is now becoming and will inevitably lead to much strife throughout Europe and the Middle East. Do not allow the Europeans and the German manufacturing machine to get greased, for it will not only be the concern for AQ and the Taliban as well as those in Lebanon, but for us as well….

The esteemed NSA, DoD and others so committed to our freedom, the US Constitution and our way of Life must take the lead, not the inexperienced and liberal thinkers within State. Hillary talks of leaving…who will replace her and from what I see here on Main Street, anyone hired at DHS should not be the political appointee, but rather, fully understanding of the responsibilities and requirements of the task at hand, protecting our great Republic from numerous individuals, organizations and governments who like Congress, have their own agenda, not neecssarily those of us who truly are America, the good and most charaitable people of the United States of America, proud of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Sam Adams and others who understood the framework of this great nation, willing to stand and fight on the Lexington Green!

God Bless America!

Christopher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645

Comment by christopher tingus

February 7, 2010 @ 1:43 am

As a brief follow up, whether one studies and reads the Koran or Bible, whether our heritage is for instance, like my heritage as Hellenic or another is Muslim, for the most part, we understand that our Creator has shown us that we must respect one another, acknowledge our differences as well as similarities and while not necessarily embracing one each other, none of us have the right to tear down another, to believe one s better from another –

Our nation is bankrupt. Several nations have little. The US dollar in peril. The hope for many waning.

Yes, the west has its pornography and drugs. Yes, greed and arrogance have obviously become the way of numerous entrusted officials, however whether locally or in another country, yes, dysfunctional aspects of the indivdiual are sometimes obvious, howver for the most part, people are trying to etch out a living and it is a shame tht mankind after all these generations, mistrusts the other so….

Trillions of dollars wasted which could go into more technology and so on and so forth….

It is about time that we all demand transpareny in all aspects of respecive governments and it is time that we learn more about one another and treat each other with dignity and respect!

Let’s hope the econmic and political news improves! Let’s hope we can all use money to improve the conditions of all mankind!

Christopher Tingus

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 7, 2010 @ 9:21 am

The Quadrennial Homeland Security Review was mandated by Section 2401 of the Implementing Recommendations of 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, Public Law 110-53 (August 3, 2007)which added a new sentence to the end of Title VII of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 in the form of a completely new Section 707! Rereviewing this statutory language reveals an extraordinary complexity in what was mandated.
Comparing the requirement with the QHSR issued reveals that DHS does disclose that it has not met the statutory standards for the report and will provide further reports. Perhaps with the change of administrations in January 2009 this could only be expected. But if you line up the report with the requirements they match only by a great deal of inference and while I am complimentary of what was produced, perhaps it would have helped to include the precise language of the statutory requirements in this intial phase of the QHSR against what was accomplished. As a highly specific example, is the National Strategy for Homeland Security, originally issued in July 2002 and issued revised in 2007 now superseded by the intial report of the QHSR? It seems the statute referenced above intended that to be accomplished yet the QHSR is silent on that requirement.

In other words the document is not self contained in the sense that it architecture deviates from the statute except by inference. This does not assist in analysis or transparency and to me is a major defect. Perhaps just th eye of the beholder.

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 7, 2010 @ 9:23 am

Chris–hoping for a page reference to the coordination quote–not only did I miss it the first time but still missing it!


Comment by Jessica H-F

February 7, 2010 @ 11:26 pm

look at page 34, last paragraph.. It is the last sentence on the page.

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 8, 2010 @ 3:22 am

Thanks Jessica! Ah to be young!

Comment by Cosmo deMedici

April 23, 2010 @ 9:39 pm

The QHSR needed to first set the strategic framework to enable further analysis.

The Bottom-Up-Review (BUR) is how we are examining the DHS specific policy, legislative, organizational, and programmatic implications of the QHSR.

The budget implications of both the QHSR and the BUR will be addressed through the FY12-16 Future Years Homeland Security Plan and the FY2012 Budget Request.

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