Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 21, 2014

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Filed under: Congress and HLS — by Philip J. Palin on July 21, 2014


Did you see it in your Sunday paper?  I saw it in the New York Times.  This weekend I was outside the Washington Post’s service area, but it must have run there as well.

Above is the graphic that makes up most of the full-page: a wire-diagram for DHS Congressional oversight.  You can read more on the ad campaign and the substance behind it at:


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Comment by William R. Cumming

July 21, 2014 @ 9:59 am

Thanks Phil! SNAFU?

Comment by Joel

July 21, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

Looks like one I have hanging on my wall of the players from the “Office of Homeland Security” days

Comment by Bureaucrat

July 21, 2014 @ 2:56 pm

For me, this post defintely reasonates except all of the boxes represent various entities in DHS. I work in state government in a fairly small state. It seems to me that a fair number of people in the federal government do not adequately understand how few us there are trying to sustain multiple capabilities in local jurisdictions across our states and the considerable paperwork that entails. Without much effort, I can think of at least 30 different offices or people in DC or at regional offices who solicit information, both formally and informally, from me. Often it is the same data solicited by other feds or information a federal agency sent to us. Regardless, it is good to be needed.

Relative to the recent posts on the QSHR, I find that the document serves a useful purpose to help refocus on the big picture (and some really overwhelming threats), identify systemic changes which are being or need to be made, appreciate other stakeholders, and sustain vigilance and motivation. But when you are trying ensure interoperability, work with the private sector, sustain an ever more complex hazmat capability, arrange a TEPW, conduct exercises, engage volunteers, complete assessments, keep schools safe, limit environmetal impact, comply with NIMS, fight off cyber attacks, build resiliency, respond to the avalanche of emails, protect infrastructure, manage grants, and put out fires literally and figuratively – the QSHR has to take its place in the stack.

Comment by Bureaucrat

July 21, 2014 @ 2:57 pm

Should say QHSR!

Comment by Arnold Bogis

July 21, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

If Congressional oversight is the homeland security issue worth such an ad buy, the homeland must be pretty secure.

Bureaucrat’s comments also remind me that most of the important homeland security actors at the non-federal and private level don’t have to report to Congress at all (and I’m not even talking about those federal officials leading anti-terrorism, biosafety, and other efforts who are not in DHS).

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 21, 2014 @ 4:05 pm

No such thing if there ever was a nimble Congress.

Tragically for those impacted no such thing as a nimble Executive Branch.

And as the proverbial frog dumped in water gradually coming to a boil we feel no pain until way too late–Climate Change?

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 21, 2014 @ 10:17 pm

Dead sitting [formerly] US Senators may be replaced by the Governor of their State by an appointee to fill the unexpired term. But a major Continuity of Government issue was identified and made the subject of hearings after 9/11. Members of the US House of Representatives can only be replaced by election.
Thus if Flight 93 was headed to the Hill and impacted killing members of the House their seats would not have been immediately filled.

Comment by Quin

July 22, 2014 @ 10:29 am

20 years ago this May, Congress actually did the right thing once. I can’t imagine Congress writing such common sense today. Sigh.

103d Congress, 2nd Session

House Rept. 103-499

103 H. Rpt. 499




The Administration requested $129,658,000 for fiscal year 1995 for activities authorized under the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950, as amended. The committee recommends authorization of the amount requested.

Civil defense funds are provided to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers the civil defense program. The program subsidizes the emergency management infrastructure at the state and local level.

Civil defense programs were originally designed to protect “life and property in the United States from attack.” In 1981, the law was amended to permit states to use civil defense funds to prepare for natural disasters “in a manner that. . . . does not detract from attack-related civil defense preparedness.” Section 3402 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994 (Public Law 103-160) eliminated this restriction. The Civil Defense Act now reflects the “all-hazard” approach to emergency management, i.e., states are permitted to use the funds for all kinds of emergencies and disasters.

The committee believes that it should get out of the civil defense business for two reasons. First, the program has lost its defense emphasis. The threat of attack is no longer the driving force behind the program. Rather, the chief threats today come from tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, chemical spills, and the like.

Second, there are too many House and Senate committees (over 20) with legislative jurisdiction over FEMAs activities. This has fragmented oversight of the agency and hampered its ability to perform effectively.

The committee believes two actions will take it out of the civil defense business. First, section 3402 of the bill would repeal the Civil Defense Act (section 2251 et seq. of title 50, United States Code) and place its authorities into the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (section 5101 et seq. of title 42, United States Code). The Committee on Publics Works has legislative jurisdiction over the Stafford Act. The committee believes that civil defense programs should be a part of the Stafford Act and that Public works should have legislative jurisdiction over the program.

Second, the committee also believes that portions of FEMAs budget, especially civil defense programs, do not belong in the 050 defense budget account. Accordingly, the committee is working with the Office of Management and Budget, the National Security Council and the House Committee on the Budget to transfer civil defense and other portions of the FEMA budget now included in the 050 budget function to a domestic budget account.

Pingback by DHS- “simplified!” | Recovery Diva

July 23, 2014 @ 5:40 am

[…] is not exactly on topic, but I could not resist sharing it. First of all, thanks to Phil Palin of HLSwatch blog for pointing it out. And full credit to the Annenberg Foundation for the whole […]

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