Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 12, 2013

If Thad Allen ran DHS (revisited)

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on July 12, 2013

This post first appeared on July 31, 2012.


If Thad Allen ran DHS

The homeland security enterprise got a glimpse of what DHS might look like if Thad Allen becomes the Secretary of Homeland Security.


He testified a few weeks ago at a senate hearing about “The Evolution of the Homeland Security Department’s Roles and Missions.”

Here’s some of what he had to say in his written statement.


Allen reminded people how quickly DHS got started 10 years ago. The perception of urgency in 2002 meant “little time was available for deliberate planning and thoughtful consideration of available alternatives” for establishing the Department.

The consequence of “fire before aiming?”

Basic mission support functions of the department such as financial accounting, human resource management, real property management, information resource management, procurement, and logistics were retained largely at the component level in legacy systems that varied widely. Funding for those functions was retained at the component level as well. In those cases where new entities were created (i.e. Departmental level management and operations, the Under Secretary for Science and Technology, the Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis, the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office) support systems had to be created rapidly to meet immediate demands of mission execution. Finally, components and departmental offices that did not preexist the legislation were located in available space around the Washington DC area and the Secretary and number of new functions were located at the Nebraska Avenue Complex in Northwest Washington.

The result was an organizational mess.

According to Allen,

Many of these issues persist today, ten years later. Despite several attempts to centralize and consolidate functions …, most support functions remain located in departmental components and the funding to support those functions remains in their appropriations. Because of dissimilarities between appropriations structures of components transferred from legacy departments there is a lack of uniformity, comparability, and transparency in budget presentations across the department. As a result it is difficult to clearly differentiate, for example, between personnel costs, operations and maintenance costs, information technology costs, and capital investment….”

Allen outlines other structural and process problems that have “severely constrained the ability [of] the Department [to] mature as an enterprise.”

What to do about it?

In the May/June issue of Public Administration Review (subscription required), Allen wrote an article called “Confronting Complexity and Leading Unity of Effort.”  The title summarizes the approach he’d take to remedy the structural disarray that is DHS.

I proposed that the major emerging challenge of public administration and governing is the increased level of complexity we confront in mission operations, execution of government programs, and managing non-routine and crisis events. Driving this complexity are rapid changes in technology, the emergence of global community, and the ever-expanding human-built environment that intersects with the natural environment in new more extreme ways.

So far nothing very new here. Just another statement from someone stuck in what Sebastian Gorka, Michael J. Gallagher, and Joshua A. Geltzer call the Complexity Trap [one of the few articles I’ve found that challenges the assumption almost everything interesting is complex.]

Allen moves away in his testimony from the theoretical and suggests what his complexity analysis could mean for DHS: as a unit of analysis, DHS may be too small.

No single department, agency, or bureau has the authorizing legislation, appropriation, capability, competency or capacity to address complexity alone. The result is that most government programs or services are “co-produced” by multiple agencies. Many involve the private/non-governmental sector, and, in some cases, international partners. Collaboration, cooperation, the ability to build networks, and partner are emerging as critical organizational and leadership skills. Homeland Security is a complex “system of systems” that interrelates and interacts with virtually every department of government at all levels and the private sector as well. It is integral to the larger national security system. We need the capabilities, capacities and competency to create unity of effort within the Department and across the homeland security enterprise.

Allen is unwilling to wait for complexity and the magic of emergence to produce unity of effort in the system of systems that is the homeland security. He wants to createunity of effort. He’s shifting from a managerial toward a leadership perspective.

What is Allen’s vision for DHS?

As we look forward to the next decade I would propose we consider two basic simple concepts: Mission execution and mission support. Mission execution is deciding what [you do] and how to do it. Mission support enables mission execution.

For the mission execution piece of the vision, Allen wants to take another look (through the next QHSR) at what DHS is responsible for.

[T]here should be a baseline assessment of the current legal authorities, regulatory responsibilities, treaty obligations, and current policy direction (i.e. HSPD/NSPD). I do not believe there has been sufficient visibility provided on the broad spectrum of authorities and responsibilities that moved to the department with the components in 2003….

Once that’s done, he wants to look at how homeland security missions still worth pursuing are carried out, and “without regard to current stove piped component activities.”

Using borders as an example, Allen writes

envision the border as an aggregation of functions across physical and virtual domains instead of the isolated and separate authorities, jurisdictions, capabilities, and competencies of individual components.

Resilience also would get a new, expanded look:

Instead of focusing on “insuring resiliency to disasters” we should focus on the creation and sustainment of national resiliency that is informed by the collective threat/risks presented by both the natural and human built environments. The latter is a more expansive concept than “infrastructure” and the overall concept subsumes the term “disaster” into [the] larger problem set that we will face. This strategic approach would allow integration of activities and synergies between activities that are currently stove piped within FEMA, NPPD, and other components. It also allows cyber security to be seen as activity that touches virtually every player in the homeland security enterprise.”

Allen succinctly illustrates the mission support element of his DHS vision this way:

[W]hen you go to work … every day you [do] one of two things: you either execute the mission or you support the mission…. [If] you cannot explain which one of these jobs you are doing, then we have done one of two things wrong … we haven’t explained your job properly or we don’t need your job.

How to accomplish the vision Allen sets out?

… I see three possible ways forward. The desirable course of action would be build the trust and transparency necessary for the Department and components to [collectively] agree to rationalize the mission support structure and come to agreements on shared services. The existing barriers are considerable but the first principals of mission execution apply here as well … unambiguous, clearly communicated strategic intent and unity of effort supported by transparency and exploitation of information. A less palatable course of action is top down directed action that is enforced through the budget process. The least desirable course of action is externally mandated change.

I think what that paragraph says to the people in DHS is “You’ve been building this agency for a decade. Get your act together internally and fix what you know is not working. If you don’t do it on your own, you will be directed to do it either through the budget or through law.”

I don’t believe the last two options can work. They depend on control, and I think the evidence — including DHS’s first decade — is very clear: deliberate control is not a property of a complex social system, like homeland security.

The first option might work. But it’s up to the men and women inside DHS and the enterprise to make it work. That takes leadership. Not leaders.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

July 12, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

Thanks Chris! And thanks for the excellent comments the previous go around. And thanks to John Morton for inviting me to participate in a group session wherein Thad Allen participated and I was able to have a sense of the man in person. His comments in that group interested me greatly.

I believe John Morton’s session was an off the record one. If not perhaps John might have notes of Thad Allen’s comments. My only comments as I remember were to agree with Lisa Gordon-Haggerty’s comments on State and local participation in the HS enterprise. Alan Cohn was also a participant. The session was labeled a follow up to John Morton’s excellent book “Next Generation Homeland Security” published by the Naval Institute Press.

Comment by HGRATTAN

July 13, 2013 @ 5:46 am

Blog post to the President.

DHS vacancy must be addressed forthwith.

In-progress QHSR needs direction from new Secretary.

QHSR-2010 called for the maturation of the HLS enterprise.

QHSR-2014 will focus on risk management.

Manage the risk by first appointing suitable candidate. Mature the HLS enterprise.

Consider Mr. Allen.

Semper Paratus


Comment by William R. Cumming

July 13, 2013 @ 9:25 am

Due to continuity of government issues and policies Secretaries of Cabinet Departments should always service barring ill health or abuse issues until their successor is sworn in as Secretary. Few understand how difficult it is to operate a Department on an acting basis. This point is implied and well stated in Christian Beckner’s previous posting.

Service as a Cabinet officer is a tough tough job in the circles of governance. And by the way I count almost 50 various types of CZARS under President Obama. Face time with the President as a Cabinet Secretary is tough to get.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

July 14, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

3 NAMES FLOATED FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: Rep. Mike McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, on Sunday floated three possible people to replace outgoing chief Janet Napolitano: William Bratton, Thad Allen, and Ray Kelly. Allen is retired Coast Guard commandant, Kelly is the NYPD commissioner, and William Bratton has led police departments in New York, Los Angeles, and Boston. Janet Napolitano announced on Friday that she is leaving her post to become president of the University of California system. On Fox News Sunday, McCaul said he “respected” Napolitano’s work but said they had disagreements on many issues “particularly around the border.”

Comment by Christopher Tingus

July 14, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

William Bratton who has demonstrated the leadership capabilities in his willingness to make decisive directives in addressing a host of law enforcement decision-making would best serve the populace and the nation! The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) needs a non-partisan and independent boss if we are to address real issues which threaten our every day way of living. As an enlightened populace having less and less confidence in this present failed WH leadership where even the WH doors remain closed other than to rappers, with the Middle East more and more a consternation for those cognizant of the adverse ramifications an unstable regional conflagration would cause, the wasted DHS dollars by poor stewardship by executive leadership must utilize every budgeted dollar to enhance our intel and collaborative agency effort to thwart those who seek our demise.

To those of us here from Boston Strong, we forward our “Main Street USA” recommendation on behalf of Bill Bratton to take charge of the new DHS which must rid itself of the political hacks and portray a Department of Homeland Security which will strengthen our borders, enforce present laws and understand that We the People are fed up with the lack of experience so apparent in failed decision-making and intentional circumventing of our Constitution by Barry Obama and his “Chicago-Washington-Hollywood Express” charade which has caused many to disregard the US when any words are uttered from washington these days….

The “Brutes of Tehran” and the “KGB Putinites” have no reason to afford any concern when the US speaks as it is evident to so, so many that we have an unwillingness to defend ‘ol Glory or the Constitution for all see this administration doing its utmost to circumvent the Judeo-Christian and family principles which have bode well for this nation until recently…. The perverted and divisiveness promoted by Barry and Michelle Obama and its various designees, whether Susan Rice or Ms. Hillary in blatant lie and in self-serving agenda, willing to leave our brave Patriots behind at the “Benghazi Massacre” will never be forgotten…The perpetrators are well known and today may be having drinks at the hotel feeling invulnerable from the weakened sword of this Washington administration and an ineffective and tarnished AG, however with time and a new administration and a renewed American spirit, they will be brought to justice. Never underestimate individuals who live in freedom and as Samuel Adams write in (1775):

“No People will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can they be easily subdued, when knowledge is made wide spread and Virtue is preserved. on the Contrary, when people are unwisely ignorant, and debauched in their manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign invaders” –

As we see Merkel and the Bundestag keep in troop strength strong as we leave Afghanistan and we see the German fulfill their pledge to fill the void of lackluster global defense and foreign policy making and more and more manufacture and distribution of German “hardware” and servicing in weapons being sent to the Middle East to create a new Confederate of Middle East States in ally to German, our arch enemy as the clock pushes forward, read your history in 1870, 1914, 1939 and today and again, Germany will force its hand and cause much calamity as it challenges Islam and We must be prepared here to defend our land and our borders to the fullest extent!

Be aware of your surroundings and those lurking about and kindly read verse and especially Psalm 83 and you will have a much clearer perspective on the evolving real story and the demand that America with a strong arsenal and a firm hand respecting the laws and tradition and those who have compromised much to enable us to enjoy freedom which even from within, is threatened.

God Bless America!

Again, We wish William Bratton our support and God’s Blessings as we are confident in his love of nation, Respect of verse and commitment to safeguard his fellow Americans and those at DHS and other agency who willingly and often anonymously stand forthright to assure our security…

Good riddance to you Madame Secretary. You were willing to prostitute yourself just as Ms. Hillary standing shoulder to shoulder in blatant lie with this “Chicago city street slicker” so disparaging of Constitution and American history other than to use the “Rev Wright-Obama pulpit” to remind all Americans of the slavery issues of the past and indifference to the present 21st century and the great strides we have made in social, technological, scientific and so many of our resources which enable us far less restricted in thinking to forge ahead and bring solutions to challenges confronting us as we move forward.

God Bless America!

Christopher Tingus
“Main Street USA”
PO Box 1612
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645 USA

Comment by Christopher Tingus

July 14, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

Harry Reid: Zimmerman Case Not Closed
Sunday, 14 Jul 2013 12:50 PM
By Audrey Hudson and Amy Woods

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid predicted that despite the not guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin shooting, that the case was not over as the NAACP asked that the Justice Department pursue federal charges against George Zimmerman.

“I think the Justice Department’s going to take a look at this. You know, this isn’t over with, and I think that’s good, that’s our system,” Reid said.

Ben Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, said Sunday the attorney general’s office should pursue criminal civil-rights charges in the killing of Martin following the acquittal of Zimmerman late Saturday.

“We are calling on them to do just that because when you look at his comments … there is reason to be concerned that race was a factor in why he targeted young Trayvon,” Jealous said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“The reality is that even if there had been several burglaries in his neighborhood, and he believed that the suspects were never caught were young black men, there is no reason for him to kill Trayvon,” Jealous said.

Jealous said the much-watched trial in Sanford, Fla., is as an iconic an event as was the Rodney King trial in Los Angeles.

“As black people, as black parents, parents raising black boys, black girls in this society, that it feels so awful that our young people have to fear the bad guys and the good guys, the robbers and the cops, and the self-appointed community-watch volunteer that thinks that they’re keeping folks safer,” he said.

Justice was not served by the all-female jury that delivered the innocent verdict, Jealous said.

“How is it that young Trayvon Martin could be killed by George Zimmerman, and George Zimmerman gets no time when Michael Vick got two-and-a-half years for killing dogs, when a domestic-violence victim in northern Florida shot warning shots in the air over the head of her attacker and got 20 years?” he asked.

Jealous, on CBS’ “Face the Nation” said the focus will now shift to “ensuring that our justice system continues its’ course.”

“There seems to be plenty of evidence that suggests that may race may have been a factor,” said Jealous. “He called 911 a lot about young black men that he thought were dangerous. He said, these punks always get away, having had that track record those words have powerful meaning. [It] should not be the case that somebody should be able to track, to taunt, to kill a young man on the streets.”

Michael Eric Dyson, of Georgetown University, who authored a biography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., agreed that race played a factor in Martin’s death.

“From the very beginning. It was racial motivation,” said Dyson. “He’s got a fear of and suspicion of African American youth. It was also evident in the construction of the jury. And while not indicting the jury themselves, they are a reflection of the broader society’s inability to empathize and imagine what it means to be Trayvon’s parents and Trayvon, going home and being assaulted by a marauding person who obviously is motivated by some sense of prejudice.”

Sally Fitzgerald contributed to this report. Newsmax.com

While justice has prevailed given the jury verdict in this case and much evidence was presented by both sides and we shall never know exactly what happened that night between these two gentlemen during their unfortunate altercation, in reading this Newsmax story, apparently the Federal government led by Barry Obama find it necessary to engage in local (Cambridge Police department 911 calls) and here immediately after a jury verdict which we must all abide by no matter if we agree or not as this is our judicial system and it is with hope that such decisions are made without any prejudice, however Harry Reid and our executive leadership along with the already much disrespected AG’s office suggesting further pursuit, unless justified, is a Homeland Security issue which I would like those willing to share their perspective on future posts.

This continued intervening from the executive levels of government and this conveyance of ongoing divisiveness spewed at every possible circumstance from within and the partisan politics which is so rampant among the obvious self-serving prompts me to share James Madison’s words in (1785):

“If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be under the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. but, in reality it will be an Enemy from within” – More and more We here on “Main Street USA” distrust those we have “entrusted” by our precious vote and this intentional overstepping into those charged to safeguard our communities and to uphold the laws by court officials is very upsetting causing much consternation among us who believe in our Justice System and demand that laws be enforced and jury verdict be supported by the majority of our populace whether we concur or not….

Comment by Christopher Tingus

July 15, 2013 @ 7:30 am

Click here: DuhProgressive.com – Obama on 4th of July: ‘‘I can’t believe I have to miss a good day of golf for this crap!’’

While it is good riddance to you Madame DHS, it is time to place Barry Obama (and Ms. Hillary) under House arrest for suspicion of breach of faith – treason in willingly lessening security and failing to uphold (as did Ms. Hillary) their pledge to the Constitution and the American people and these brave Patriots left behind at the “Benghazi Massacre” – enough is enough….

If in fact Barry Obama has spoken in such a way towards our nation and its proud history especially what so many others are subjected to daily from other nation to nation so oppressed…if indeed this is fact checked, this should be further motivation to throw this Chicago city street slicker out of office and prompts me to restate the words of Frederick Douglass:

“Find out just what People will submit to, and you have found the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress” –

God Bless these United States of America!

Comment by Scott Winegar

July 15, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

I applaud William Bratton’s outstanding leadership as a law enforcement professional. He is highly qualified to run any police department anywhere. Law enforcement is only one of DHS’s many roles. Thad Allen has the right mix of law enforcement, national defense, and disaster response to lead DHS to do great things. He is non-partisan and well respected. I worked with and for him on several projects and during the responses for Katrina and Deepwater Horizon and he is the right candidate for the job. I have never met a better leader nor a more dedicated American I only hope he would consider taking the responsibility after having already spent an entire career serving the nation.

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