Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 20, 2013

QHSR 2.0 – the preparedness phase

Filed under: Congress and HLS,General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on August 20, 2013

While DHS is waiting to learn who its fourth leader will be, homeland security geeks (you know who you are) spend the summer quadrennially reviewing homeland security.

If you care about homeland security and want to add your voice to the 2nd QHSR discussion, you have at least two options.  You can join the conversation on IdeaScale and you can go to the “Quadrennial Homeland Security Communities of Practice” message board. (Registration required on both sites.)

Here’s how the IdeaScale works:

  • Users submit their ideas
  • The “community” discusses and votes for the ideas.
  • The best ideas bubble to the top.

I could not discover what happens to the ideas that bubble to the top.

The QHSR Communities of Practice site “addresses question of governance in the Homeland Security Enterprise – The Public Private Relationship.”

I interpreted those words to mean you could talk about anything as long as it had to do with public-private relationships in homeland security.  Most of the 90+ posts did have a private sector connection, even the discussions of memes and the-always-appropriate “what is homeland security?”

The IdeaScale site has a richer variety of issues.  As of last night, there were 140 of them — including:

  • the impact of Obamacare on public health
  • whether local law enforcement could be trusted with homeland security
  • facial recognition
  • global recovery
  • cryptocurrencies
  • aging
  • politics as a waste
  • Christion Zionism
  • infectious illegal immigrants
  • the security of homeland security vehicles
  • tablet computers for prison inmates
  • privacy concerns hindering homeland security efforts

There were many more.

Even if few of those ideas make it into the 2nd QHSR, they do offer candidates for news stories, research papers, conspiracy theories and congressional hearings.

I spent a few days last week in the company of 30 state, local, federal and private sector people, all of whom had some connection to homeland security.

I asked about the QHSR.

Most people had heard something about it. Some thought it was a strategy. Others said it was a law.  It was a plan.  A report.

One person said the QHSR influenced what that person did at work:  ”Everything we do is aligned to the 2010 Review.”  That person works for DHS.

No one else in the room was able to identify any impact the 2010 QHSR had on what they do. No one.  The consensus was the 2014 Report would have the same result.

“Why is the QHSR Important?” asks the 2nd QHSR Engagement Bulletin.

The 2010 Report “described the what of homeland security.”  The 2014 Report “will begin to describe the how of homeland security.”

Another description (available here) says the “first quadrennial review answered the question, ‘What is homeland security?’ ” And the “second quadrennial review is focusing on how we work together to address critical security challenges in the face of evolving threats and resource constraints.”

The Engagement Bulletin has a a buzzing description of five specific things the 2nd QHSR will do.

  • Apply a strategic, risk based approachusing a rigorous, data-driven analytic approach.
  • Learn from the past to help plan for the future….
  • Maximize impact….
  • Help create a DHS that “works together even more efficiently.
  • Engage the entire homeland security enterprise….

I admire the ideals reflected in those aspirational objectives and the belief that the homeland security world might work that way.

I wonder what measures could be used to determine whether the QHSR will do those 5 things.

I wonder what “learn from the past” measures are used within DHS and in Congress to figure out what impact the 1st QHSR Report had in the homeland security enterprise. (Seriously. I’d appreciate learning, if anyone knows.)

Why even do this exercise?

Blame Congress.  It mandated that every 4 years there be a review of “the homeland security of the nation.” Whatever that means.

Congress directed the Review to be:

a comprehensive examination of the homeland security strategy of the Nation, including recommendations regarding the long-term strategy and priorities of the Nation for homeland security and guidance on the programs, assets, capabilities, budget, policies, and authorities of the Department.

That’s a tall order.  Bravo to those in the Arena who are trying to make this work.

If I remember correctly about what happened after the 1st QHSR Report was issued, Congress held hearings, DHS folks testified, Congress said there should be more progress.

That’s probably going to happen again.

But all that is later.  Right now, cynic, realist or idealist, you have an opportunity to offer your ideas, debate with people who care about homeland security, and who knows, maybe make a difference.

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6 Comments »

Comment by JCOMISKEY

August 20, 2013 @ 8:49 am

Visions, risk management, and aspirations.

To the QHSR reviewer who said that the 2010 QHSR defined HLS please note the QHSR’s vision of HLS:

“a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards where American interests, aspirations, and way of life could survive.” (p.2)

Kaplan and Norton (2008) defined visions as concise statements that defined mid-to long term goals of an organization. Visions must move past being aspirational and inspirational, they must be described in terms conducive to execution.

see: http://www.amazon.com/The-Execution-Premium-Operations-Competitive/dp/142212116X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1377005412&sr=8-3&keywords=Kaplan+and+Norton

Nonetheless, DHS’s (2011) Risk Management Lexicon maintained that it captured the theoretical underpinnings of homeland security risk management. The document, however, should “not” be read as criteria to be evaluated against. Instead, the document should be taken as a “statement of aspirations for improved homeland security decision making.” (p.5)

See: http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/rma-risk-management-fundamentals.pdf

Furthermore, Pelfrey and Kelley (2013) concluded that the American people over the past decade had come to value the set of activities that comprised homeland security and the related tasks of emergency management and crisis management. A more genuine appreciation had developed for prevention, preparedness, response, mitigation, recovery, and consequence management. Their performance was less and less seen as an aspirational goal and had moved toward being an expectation if not a requirement.

see: http://www.hsaj.org/?article=9.1.3

IMHO, QHSR and the HLS enterprise should be more forthright in managing expectations lest HLS become (become more)government largesse

To be posted on http://qhsr.ideascale.com/

Comment by JCOMISKEY

August 20, 2013 @ 8:55 am

Correction: DHS Risk Lexicon should read DHS Risk Fundamentals.

DHS Risk Steering Committee’s (2010) DHS Risk Lexicon, however, is worth noting. DHS maintained that risk was a key organizing principle for homeland security strategies. Risk management supported specific homeland security missions and determined how homeland security functions could be used to prevent, protect, mitigate, respond to, and recover from hazards to the nation.

The Risk Steering Committee defined a total of 123 risk related terms and did so through a three-phase process. The process included (a) a collection of terms that were collected across DHS and the risk community, (b) the harmonization of oft conflicting definitions to produce a single meaning for each term, and (c) the validation, review, and normalization of each term against a number of non-DHS sources to ensure that the definitions produced for use in DHS were consistent with those used by the larger risk community. The committee did not, however, define term homeland security.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 20, 2013 @ 8:58 am

Thanks Chris for reminding US this project underway. Perhaps the first step would be to determine the actual impact of the 2010 review and its deficiencies. There are programs, functions, and activities in DHS that are clearly stepchildren and not thriving.

So what can be accomplished? Militarization of DHS and its components who fit that image continue to thrive in particular as career military or short term military continue to dominate the top ranks of DHS below the appointee level.

How about this suggestion? DoD has the force projection capability for the nation external to the US polity. And DHS gets the rest!

And TSA goes back to DoT! And DEA goes to DHS! Flood mapping goes to NOAA and the insurance component goes to Treasury. And Disaster Relief becomes a block grant unless State and Local government capability destroyed.

GAO keeps complaining to me and agreeing with me that NO metrics for program analysis exist in most of DHS.
And many components in DHS do not know or understand their formal legal assignments and relations to other departments and agencies.

So at minimum for the QHSR how about publishing a list of all funded and nonfunded MOUs and MOA’s to which DHS and its components are signatory. As an example no formal agreemen b

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 20, 2013 @ 9:33 am

Since your post uses the term Preparedness Phase perhaps my finding that only 24 FTE in DHS outside of COG/COOP do preparedness is of some significance. Perhaps the assigned mission and goals of these people might be of interest so revisions in staffing and roles could be determined if necessary.

There is no question that the three main assignments to DHS in ASSEMBLY of the Department are difficult to locate. To repeat my poft repeated refrain these were in shorthand: (1) WMD; (2) CIP; and (3) collection, processing, dissemination of domestic intel while safequarding privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 21, 2013 @ 2:02 am

And of course there is NO RPT CARD on how the various FRAMEWORKS have actually been implemented.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 21, 2013 @ 7:55 am

Assistant Secretary Alan Cohn a career SES is in charge of the QHSR!

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