Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

October 26, 2012

What is the problem to which the answer is “Let’s have a homeland security partnership council?”

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on October 26, 2012

The policy work of homeland security never ends.

It’s Friday afternoon in Washington D.C. Hurricane Sandy on its way. There’s a national election in 10 days. The Obama Administration releases an executive order establishing the White House Homeland Security Partnership Council.

There may be a message here.


A colleague who told me about the order wrote:

Odd both with respect to timing and perceived need…. In reading Section 3 (Mission and Function) …, my initial thought entails why this entity is needed. Wasn’t the “partnering” mission one of the primary reasons for creating the DHS? I guess this can be looked at in at least two ways. If I am the Secretary of DHS now I have a lot more people looking over my shoulder and asking “why haven’t you done this” type questions. Conversely, maybe this Executive Order was pursued by the DHS to have a formal mechanism in place to put other agencies on notice that more needs to be done to support the non-federal government homeland security partnering mission?

Another friend wrote:

Lots of odd possibilities and possible rationales. Among others, … do all the groups partnering with DHS and its components move to this office under White House? Is it a slap to DHS? Or a demonstration that DHS has convinced the white house of the importance of local relationships?

The order is brief, so I posted a copy below.

It looks like the job of the Homeland Security Partnership Council (HSPC?) is to talk about partnerships, have an annual meeting, and produce an annual report.

I wonder how long it took for this executive order to move from idea inception to getting the president’s signature, and who the winners and losers were.

I wonder what measures of success the Council might aspire to.

I wonder why the nation needs a Homeland SecurityPartnership Council.


EXECUTIVE ORDER (my emphasis in bold in the text that follows)

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to advance the Federal Government’s use of local partnerships to address homeland security challenges, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy.

The purpose of this order is to maximize the Federal Government’s ability to develop local partnerships in the United States to support homeland security priorities. Partnerships are collaborative working relationships in which the goals, structure, and roles and responsibilities of the relationships are mutually determined. Collaboration enables the Federal Government and its partners to use resources more efficiently, build on one another’s expertise, drive innovation, engage in collective action, broaden investments to achieve shared goals, and improve performance. Partnerships enhance our ability to address homeland security priorities, from responding to natural disasters to preventing terrorism, by utilizing diverse perspectives, skills, tools, and resources.

The National Security Strategy emphasizes the importance of partnerships, underscoring that to keep our Nation safe “we must tap the ingenuity outside government through strategic partnerships with the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, foundations, and community-based organizations. Such partnerships are critical to U.S. success at home and abroad, and we will support them through enhanced opportunities for engagement, coordination, transparency, and information sharing.” This approach recognizes that, given the complexities and range of challenges, we must institutionalize an all-of-Nation effort to address the evolving threats to the United States.

Sec. 2. White House Homeland Security Partnership Council and Steering Committee.

(a) White House Homeland Security Partnership Council. There is established a White House Homeland Security Partnership Council (Council) to foster local partnerships — between the Federal Government and the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, foundations, community-based organizations, and State, local, tribal, and territorial government and law enforcement — to address homeland security challenges. The Council shall be chaired by the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (Chair), or a designee from the National Security Staff.

(b) Council Membership.

(i) Pursuant to the nomination process established in subsection (b)(ii) of this section, the Council shall be composed of Federal officials who are from field offices of the executive departments, agencies, and bureaus (agencies) that are members of the Steering Committee established in subsection (c) of this section, and who have demonstrated an ability to develop, sustain, and institutionalize local partnerships to address policy priorities.

(ii) The nomination process and selection criteria for members of the Council shall be established by the Steering Committee. Based on those criteria, agency heads may select and present to the Steering Committee their nominee or nominees to represent them on the Council. The Steering Committee shall consider all of the nominees and decide by consensus which of the nominees shall participate on the Council. Each member agency on the Steering Committee, with the exception of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, may have at least one representative on the Council.

(c) Steering Committee. There is also established a Steering Committee, chaired by the Chair of the Council, to provide guidance to the Council and perform other functions as set forth in this order. The Steering Committee shall include a representative at the Deputy agency head level, or that representative’s designee, from the following agencies:

(i) Department of State;

(ii) Department of the Treasury;

(iii) Department of Defense;

(iv) Department of Justice;

(v) Department of the Interior;

(vi) Department of Agriculture;

(vii) Department of Commerce;

(viii) Department of Labor;

(ix) Department of Health and Human Services;

(x) Department of Housing and Urban Development;

(xi) Department of Transportation;

(xii) Department of Energy;

(xiii) Department of Education;

(xiv) Department of Veterans Affairs;

(xv) Department of Homeland Security;

(xvi) Office of the Director of National Intelligence;

(xvii) Environmental Protection Agency;

(xviii) Small Business Administration; and

(xix) Federal Bureau of Investigation.

At the invitation of the Chair, representatives of agencies not listed in subsection (c) of this section or other executive branch entities may attend and participate in Steering Committee meetings as appropriate.

(d) Administration. The Chair or a designee shall convene meetings of the Council and Steering Committee, determine their agendas, and coordinate their work. The Council may establish subgroups consisting exclusively of Council members or their designees, as appropriate.

Sec. 3. Mission and Function of the Council and Steering Committee.

(a) The Council shall, consistent with guidance from the Steering Committee:

(i) advise the Chair and Steering Committee members on priorities, challenges, and opportunities for local partnerships to support homeland security priorities, as well as regularly report to the Steering Committee on the Council’s efforts;

(ii) promote homeland security priorities and opportunities for collaboration between Federal Government field offices and State, local, tribal, and territorial stakeholders;

(iii) advise and confer with State, local, tribal, and territorial stakeholders and agencies interested in expanding or building local homeland security partnerships;

(iv) raise awareness of local partnership best practices that can support homeland security priorities;

(v) as appropriate, conduct outreach to representatives of the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, foundations, community-based organizations, and State, local, tribal, and territorial government and law enforcement entities with relevant expertise for local homeland security partnerships, and collaborate with other Federal Government bodies; and

(vi) convene an annual meeting to exchange key findings, progress, and best practices.

(b) The Steering Committee shall:

(i) determine the scope of issue areas the Council will address and its operating protocols, in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget;

(ii) establish the nomination process and selection criteria for members of the Council as set forth in section 2(b)(ii) of this order;

(iii) provide guidance to the Council on the activities set forth in subsection (a) of this section; and

(iv) within 1 year of the selection of the Council members, and annually thereafter, provide a report on the work of the Council to the President through the Chair.

Sec. 4. General Provisions.

(a) The heads of agencies participating in the Steering Committee shall assist and provide information to the Council, consistent with applicable law, as may be necessary to implement this order. Each agency shall bear its own expense for participating in the Council.

(b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof;

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals; or

(iii) the functions of the Overseas Security Advisory Council.

(c) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and appropriate protections for privacy and civil liberties, and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(d) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.


October 26, 2012.

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Comment by Christopher Bellavita

October 26, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

Examiner.com (http://www.examiner.com/article/obama-signs-new-executive-order-expanding-homeland-security-mission-the-u-s) has this interpretation of the executive order.

From their story:

On Oct. 26, President Obama signed a new Executive Order which expands the role and scope of Homeland Security in states and areas across the country. This order, which establishes a new Security Partnership Council, will have far reaching effects in the overall mission of Homeland Security, and for state and local areas that interact with the Federal agency.

Economically, the Establishing the White House Homeland Security Partnership Council Executive Order will increase funding and resources to state and local governments [sic] to fulfill Homeland Security programs and doctrines, as well as increase Federal oversight in the implementation of directives tied to the agencies mission.

Comment by Skrewjack

October 26, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

Not sure exactly what the angle is yet, but it might be worth noting the Steering Committee is exactly the same as the non-elected Presidential Order of Succession.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 27, 2012 @ 8:21 am

Another feckless attempt to secure John Brennan’s role in HS in his continuing contest with the Secretary DHS for bureaucratic power assuming that Obama is re-elected. If he is not re-relected then totally meaningless.

If DHS or the NSC and NSS was really the center of thoughtfull policy making on HS there would be a new EO replacing EO 12656 originally issued in November 1988 after the election of George H. W. Bush by the dieing embers of the Reagan Administration which had been processing since its inception a replacement for EO 11490 [issued 1969].

Perhaps the highlight of the struggle to replace EO 11490 was the effort of the DoJ to avoid being the lead on domestic terrorism. Note that DoJ is not mentioned in the new EO but the FBI is in fact as the key law enforcement effort.

Also please note that repeated administrative and statutory efforts to mandate a field structure for DHS has not yet been accomplished since DHS was founded. Tom Ridge states that the primary reason was recalcitrance by the WH in his writings. So one could argue that the new EO is not to reform efforts by
DHS but merely another effort to reform WH administration and oversight of a DHS likely to be broken up by the Romney Adminstration together with the termination of FEMA by introduction of block grants to the STATES and Locals for preparedness, prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery all under the umbrella of resilence.

Resilience of course being the paradigm first put forth by Amanda Dory during her stay at CSIS in 2003 in her study entitled “Civil Security”!

An EO on resilience would have had more impact than the new organization established by the rapidly dying Obama Administration.

Yes it’s the VISION THING that plagues both these Presidential candidates.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 27, 2012 @ 8:28 am

CORRETION: Both DoJ and FBI mentioned in the new EO!

Note for the record this is an historic mistake by the drafters and signers. Why? The FBI reports to the AG.

Of course I have long recommended that DoJ be confined to its classic litigation role and that FBI, DEA, and Bureau of Prisons be sent to a DHS stripped of TSA [back to DOT] and FEMA converted to a staffing function for Presidential disaster ops. FEMA’s National Security role largely removed by last three Presidents and that change probably will stick in any new Administration. The prime mission of FEMA should be to reduce disasters not promote them by funding the negligent actions of STATES and their LOCAL Governments.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 27, 2012 @ 8:29 am

I had not otherwise seen this, but it coincides with some related efforts… and raises issues I am having difficulty advancing.

Decentralization of authority is innate to Federalism and to resilient systems. There are several policy-and-strategy efforts to regionalize decision-making, spending, etc. As this process is carried out there can also be a loss of original intent, a degradation of the “meaning” around which someone (maybe Congress, maybe the President, maybe… who knows) thinks the decentralized system should self-organize. There can also emerge “spoilers”, participants in the system that attempt to subvert or exploit the process of decentralization. (In my judgment these are the problems for which the EO is an attempted answer. I think they are real problems.)

So… there is an effort to insert into the regionalizing process the kind of inter-agency brokering that the White House has often played in the more centralized world of inside-the-beltway. This is where I would situate the new Executive Order (with the benefit of absolutely no prior knowledge).

Depending on who is doing the brokering, this can be helpful. But in this EO I also see a potentially fatal-flaw that I have often seen in similar efforts. The language and mind-set of the instruction is hierarchical and control-oriented. This is very seldom how the most effective inter-agency brokering is done inside-the-beltway (despite profound and abiding hierarchies). This will be even less effective in the regions, states, localities, and — especially — with the private sector.

The good news, at least from my angle, is that the Partnership Council provides an excuse for identifying who needs to be involved in the discussion and bringing folks together for the discussion. Especially if the convener is a wise wo/man the discussion can help.

But this is also a bit like sending an engraved invitation with customized hand calligraphy to your neighbors for what is meant to be a very informal Halloween party. The form of the invitation can have a significant impact on the function of the event… intended or not.

I think the Federal Government can — and homeland security especially should — facilitate interagency, intergovernmental, private-public discussions, studies, exercises, collaboration, etc. But we are really struggling to find the right forms for doing so.

Comment by Quin

October 27, 2012 @ 10:45 am

That’s certainly an odd duck of an order. Disconcerting I had to read it here to even know it existed. So now we have outreach efforts at the White House, DHS, FEMA (for emergency managment and other preparedness/mitigation activities) AND other DHS components like USCG? That certainly smacks of efficiency.

Comment by Donald Quixote

October 27, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

You pose a very pertinent question: why does the nation need the Homeland Security Partnership Council? This newest concept of enhanced homeland security collaboration and synergy brings to mind five (5) very important educational works of art that should be displayed in every governmental office as a sanity check prior to embarking on a new endeavor:






If these messages ring true, think twice about your plan. Of course, this recommendation\posting is null and void during an election year or at any time inside the beltway.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 28, 2012 @ 7:24 am

Don, Quin, Bill, et al, I chuckled at the despairing messages and, yes, the messages ring true. I’m generally in favor of efficiency and opposed to inefficiency. AND (not but) I have seen collaboration produce synergies that amplify the best of the very best. Heck, I’ve even seen government and consultants produce real value. There are sources of effectiveness that are often in tension with efficiency.

I don’t know anything more about the Partnership Council than I have read in Chris’ post. But from an array of personal experiences — at church, at school, in my commercial enterprises, in my own family — I know that communication and collaboration are hard. Partnerships are tough to sustain. Elinoir Ostrom has empirically demonstrated that diverse and polycentric structures and mechanisms are much more likely to foster resilience than their opposites.

Bill, Ingram Bay is probably going to get some substantial storm surge in the next two or three days. I think government and collaboration have something to do with your readiness for the event?

As I hope my initial post suggests, I share some concerns regarding the EO. But mostly I want to know more. The EO alone does not tell me enough to make a negative judgment. The goal (again, below) strikes me as positive and the proposed means does not seem unreasonable.

GOAL:…to develop local partnerships in the United States to support homeland security priorities. Partnerships are collaborative working relationships in which the goals, structure, and roles and responsibilities of the relationships are mutually determined. Collaboration enables the Federal Government and its partners to use resources more efficiently, build on one another’s expertise, drive innovation, engage in collective action, broaden investments to achieve shared goals, and improve performance. Partnerships enhance our ability to address homeland security priorities, from responding to natural disasters to preventing terrorism, by utilizing diverse perspectives, skills, tools, and resources.

Comment by Donald Quixote

October 28, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

For your reference, below are some of the current DHS councils, committees, forums, working groups and task forces to be joined by this new council. Forgive me for I have surely missed a few more, especially those based within other offices, agencies and departments.

DHS Advisory Councils\Groups:

Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council:
Established to facilitate effective coordination between Federal infrastructure protection programs with the infrastructure protection activities of the private sector and of state, local, territorial and tribal governments.

Critical Infrastructure Sector Partnership:
Critical infrastructure protection is a shared responsibility among federal, state, local and tribal governments, and the owners and operators of the nation’s critical infrastructure and key resources.

Homeland Security Advisory Council:
Provides advice and recommendations to the Secretary on matters related to homeland security. The Council is comprised of leaders from state and local government, first responder communities, the private sector, and academia.

National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC):
Provides advice to the Secretary of Homeland Security and the President on the security of information systems for the public and private institutions that constitute the critical infrastructure of our nation’s economy.

State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Government Coordinating Council:
The State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Government Coordinating Council works with the federal government and critical infrastructure/key resources owners to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure.

Emergency Communications Preparedness Center:
The federal interagency focal point for interoperable and operable communications coordination.

The Federal Partnership for Interoperable Communications:
Addresses technical and operational activities within the federal wireless communications community.

The Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency: Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities
Established to ensure that the federal government appropriately supports safety and security for individuals with disabilities in disaster situations.

National Advisory Council (FEMA):
Advises the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on all aspects of emergency management.

DHS Committees:

The DHS Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee:
Advises the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department’s Chief Privacy Officer on programmatic, policy, operational, administrative and technological issues relevant to the Department that affect individual privacy, data integrity and data interoperability and other privacy related issues.

Homeland Security Information Network Advisory Committee:
The Homeland Security Information Network Advisory Committee provides a balanced perspective of the federal, state, local, tribal and private sector communities whom they represent.

Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee:
Serves as a source of independent, scientific and technical planning advice for the Under Secretary for Science and Technology.

Interagency Security Committee:
The Interagency Security Committee’s mandate is to develop standards, policies and best practices for enhancing the quality and effectiveness of physical security in, and the protection of, nonmilitary federal facilities in the United States.

National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NCS):
Provides industry-based advice and expertise to the President on issues and problems related to implementing national security and emergency preparedness communications policy.

DHS Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee:
The DHS Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee provides advice at the request of the Secretary of Homeland Security and the DHS Chief Privacy Officer on programmatic, policy, operational, administrative, and technological issues within the DHS that relate to personally identifiable information, as well as data integrity and other privacy-related matters. The committee was established by the Secretary of Homeland Security under the authority of 6 U.S.C. section 451 and operates in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) (5 U.S.C. App)

DHS Forums:

DHS Labor-Management Forum:
Supporting cooperative and productive labor-management relations.

DHS Task Forces:

Task Force on New Americans (USCIS):
An inter-agency effort to help immigrants learn English, embrace the common core of American civic culture, and become fully American

DHS Working Groups:

PIV-I/FRAC Technology Transition Working Group:
The PIV-I/FRAC Technology Transition Working Group is working to establish a Personal Identity Verification-Interoperable (PIV-I) / First Responder Authentication Credential (FRAC) standard that is interoperable between local, state, and federal levels.


Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 28, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

Don, Acknowledged and, intended or not, I accept that there are plenty of opportunities for authentic questions, meaningful discussion, and practical collaboration without yet another. I have not participated in or observed each of those listed (and as you say, there are probably others). But based on what experiences I have had the quality of interaction is usually “modest.” I wonder why.

Comment by Michael Brady

October 29, 2012 @ 10:30 am

“…given the complexities and range of challenges, we must institutionalize…”

No! No! No! You need to create a mesh or a network of decentralized, creative, and flexible solutions to create resiliency.

You cannot (successfully) federalize regional problem solving, local emergency response, or common sense. It is a fine way to create a heirarchical, rigid, brittle, internecine labyrinth of institutionalized power though…

I fear for the Republic.

Comment by Timing

October 29, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

No good policy will be released in the two weeks prior to an election, all the way up to the inauguration. That this gets through shows that cluelessness and lack of caring about “homeland” stuff by the White House leadership.

This is just another bad effort by folks in the EEOB (former HSC, current NSS) who have never worked in local government to try to impose some order on something they don’t understand. Isn’t there a whole domestic policy council where this should reside? Whats the point, anyways – as you say, what is the problem we are trying to solve? And quite a joke that the “partnership” is all feds. I can hear the organ grinder music playing the background.

I am sure that this will provide a few permanent staff jobs to manage the affairs of this group – wonder whose budget that will come from, and which political folks will auger in?

As Sandy hits our shores, I also wonder which NRF version I am supposed to be following. Oh yeah,
doesn’t matter. What ever happened to PPD-8 and all that jazz?

Comment by Fiscal Hawk

October 30, 2012 @ 9:10 pm

Perhaps it is being driven by BENS:


Comment by Fiscal Hawk

October 31, 2012 @ 6:05 am

In an Los Angeles Times article entitled “Hurricane Center Chief Issues Final Warning,” dated January 3, 2007, Max Mayfield advocates for a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)-like initiative. “…. a potential public-private initiative to mine natural disaster scenes for their educational value,” to probe the causes and consequences to address topics such as unsafe construction and inadequate planning.

Comment by Responsible Decision-making

October 31, 2012 @ 5:44 pm

….an ever imposing federal government seeking to enslave the populace and as Michael Brady points out and I say far more in our giving the keys of our beloved Republic to those We “entrust” and they seeking more and more in their lust for power and self-serving agenda.

We need no such DHS Partnership Counsel and what we truly need is less government and far more responsible decision-making among the population and our citizens and far more scrutiny of those in public service and it is time to impose term limits and a cap on expanding the national deficit as we have seen this WH so reckless in taking the national deficit from $10.6 trillion in ’08 to over $16 trillion in ’12 and a promise to spend more to teb tune of a $20+ trillion deficit by 2016 – a devaluation of our currency and depression and Germany once again to bring us to War and We less prepared as a population and a government once representing the interests of the consituent – what calamity we shall expect and how could We enable so many to dupe us so as the “Rev Wright-Obama pulpit” has done in its empty rhetorical orations and – whispering – to the “KGB Putinites” and enabling the ‘Brutes of Tehran” to have WMD in hand while also perpetuating a blatant lie – a flick few knew anything about – stirring emotions and causing conflagration throughout the Middle east and leaving our brave American soldiers to die with blood on the hands of both Barry Obama and Hillary Clinton as I call for a full “benghazi Congressional Hearing – and

“I Shout Treason and Shame on You I say” –

We need no further expansion of government and in fact, far less reach into what is becoming a poverty stricken population with one in six Americans now in poverty –

God Bless America!

Christopher Tingus
Cape Cod, MA

Comment by bellavita

November 5, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

I saw this response to the executive order from a site called, without irony, American Thinker: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/11/a_national_security_hybrid.html


On October 26, 2012, eleven days before our national election, with tropical depression Sandy bearing down on thirteen East-Coast states and the Libyan disaster still a smoking morass of obfuscation, cover-ups, and unanswered questions, the White House’s Friday news dump included EO 13629. Titled “Establishing the White House Homeland Security Partnership Council,” this EO should chill the freedom-loving souls of all Americans.
Not surprisingly, the MSM has not mentioned EO 13629 — not anywhere. No mention in the NY Times, the Washington Post, or on any of the alphabet news and cable networks. The blogosphere, liberal and conservative (except Hannity), has had almost no mention of EO 13629. This EO was purposefully buried by the White House and ignored by the alternative press.
Have I got your attention? Then I’ll invite you to leave American Thinker for a couple of minutes and read the EO for yourself (only 1,232 words), and then return here.
All right, show of hands — who almost fell asleep digging through the tons of gravel to find the nasty gems? Yeah, me too. It takes a very close reading of this EO to understand what is actually going on here….

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