Department of Homeland Security is clearly start-up: How quickly can DHS be up and running? The department formally began operating on January 24, 2003, and by March 1 had absorbed representatives from most of its component parts. The formal process of transferring agencies is expected to be completed by September 30, 2003, but analysts suggest full integration of agencies will take at least several years.
Notwithstanding, as a practical matter, the new department today is preoccupied with day-to-day start-up issues: finding a physical location, improving communications capabilities, and personnel management tasks. Finding a location for the agency is key. DHS headquarters is currently at a temporary location with the majority of additional personnel scattered elsewhere. Practical staff questions about, for example, new office location and supervisor, remain for the most part unanswered.
Questions abound about how the new organizational components will communicate with each other. Linking phone systems and databases (most of the 22 agencies have their own internal computer systems and communications systems, as well as different e-mail systems) remains a pressing challenge of the first magnitude.
Human resources issues abound as well, for example, hiring, firing, retirement, processing of the payroll, and assignment to new tasks. Enormous pressure exists to fill positions. Yet, as of early March 2003, most of the senior and critical jobs in DHS were still unfilled. Only 3 of the department's top 23 man-agers had been confirmed by the Senate, and nominees for most of those jobs had not been decided.
What are some of the challenges and practical problems facing DHS as it seeks to integrate agencies such as the Coast Guard, the INS, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) into one organization, while at the same time not incorporating others, such as the FBI and CIA? Compounding this concern is the relative autonomy of some of the transferred federal agencies, such as the Coast Guard and Secret Service. What new controls and guidance will they face? In a broader context, the new department has been likened to an interior ministry but without a national police component.
A major challenge facing the department is how to effectively join border security functions and interior functions into an organization that has centralized leadership and decentralized operations. Moreover, DHS must coordinate a net-work of disaster response capabilities, while at the same time seeking to become a central focal point for analysis and dissemination of intelligence. At the same time, the organization is charged with joining research and development efforts to detect and counter potential terror attacks with the goal of shoring up vulnerabilities of the nation's critical infrastructures to include its ports, utilities, and food and water supply -- no small task!
A second issue relates to the functions that differing DHS components will perform. Clearly, in this new organizational arrangement, some agencies, such as the Coast Guard and Secret Service, will probably not change dramatically in the way they are managed and operate. However, the way that functions of other agencies will be orchestrated in this new setup is far from finalized. Yet to be seen are the additional functions or components that will emerge from the department. One new function is likely to be creation of a full-time, permanent red team that will simulate terrorist threats and test the security of installations, such as nuclear plants and government buildings. Another new function assigned to the department is oversight of visa processing. How will this be worked out with the State Department? Moreover, what, if any, will the operational role of DHS be in its many areas of responsibility?
A third and crucial issue is how intelligence will be moved through the system and shared. It is not clear the degree to which the department will have its own intelligence analysis group. Absent a strong in-house intelligence analysis component, it may be that DHS will have to rely more heavily on predigested information from many other agencies. As it starts up, the new department ' s intelligence role will be limited, primarily linking analysis from a newly created interagency Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC; see below) to efforts to strengthen the defenses of critical infrastructures.
On January 28, 2003, President Bush announced creation of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center. The new center will be responsible for fusing and analyzing domestic and foreign intelligence related to terrorist threats. It is chaired by the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) and will be staffed by members of the intelligence community, the law enforcement community, and DHS. Reportedly, the center will have access to all intelligence information available to the U.S. government, both raw and processed. Creation of the TTIC, however, is considered controversial by some in Congress who are concerned it undermines the language and intent of the Homeland Security Act, that is, that the TTIC ' s functions be performed within the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Directorate of DHS. Other analysts express concern that the TTIC structure will increasingly involve the DCI in domestic intelligence issues, a prickly arena potentially prone to collision with civil liberties safeguards.
One of the functions of the TTIC will reportedly be to maintain an up-to-date database of known and suspected terrorists that will be available to federal and nonfederal officials, as needed. This function is a terrorism counterpart to EPIC, the El Paso Intelligence Center. Currently, in the drug area, a policeman on the beat can, in real time, contact EPIC and get information on a suspect from a national drug trafficking database.
There are other complex issues as well. What role will DHS play in the flow of information from the national level to the first responder and vice versa? What role will the new department have in facilitating the flow of information to the public, to the private sector, to international organizations, and to foreign governments? Some argue that homeland security is in its essence global security. Thus, homeland security must be based on the underlying principle that security for one will never be achieved without security for all. Yet to be defined is how
DHS will interact with the international community.
An important issue is what role will DHS play in the area of promoting and integrating science and technology into the homeland security policy equation.
The pragmatic answer here is "more," especially in the area of threat and vulnerability assessment.
On September 2002 the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology issued a report on maximizing the contribution of science and technology to homeland security. Stressed was a need for flexibility for research and development programs in terms of organization, personnel, and budget. Moreover, the report proposed a DHS organizational structure for research and development to be headed by an undersecretary for science and technology, an idea subsequently adopted. The report also recommended the use of risk management, based on risk assessment, in the budgeting process and in research and development programs to determine infrastructure interaction models. The new DHS Science and Technology Directorate will coordinate research and development programs, including preparation for and responding to threats from weapons of mass destruction. A major responsibility of the new DHS Science and Technology Directorate is to join re-search and development efforts to detect and counter potential terrorist attacks. The DHS requests for funding for research and development totaled $761 million for fiscal year 2003 and $1 billion for fiscal year 2004.
An important question is how Congress will relate to this new entity as the legislature performs its traditional functions of overseeing, legislating, and appropriating money. Much of this depends on how Congress chooses to organize, either with a new structure or by restructuring its committees. Both the new department and the threats it addresses defy traditional jurisdictional power structures. Today in Congress, 88 committees and subcommittees have oversight responsibilities for agencies that have been folded into DHS.
Because of this, both houses of Congress have recognized a need for integrating these jurisdictional complexities. In the House of Representatives, the leadership has created a new House Select Committee on Homeland Security. The committee is chaired by Representative Christopher Cox of California, who sees one of the major challenges of the committee as integrating the efforts of FBI, CIA, Pentagon, and intelligence communities into a homeland security framework.
The House committee has five subcommittees, which mirror the five directorates at DHS. The five subcommittees are
1. Infrastructure and Border Security
3. Emergency Preparedness and Response
4. Cybersecurity, Science, and Research and Development
5. Intelligence and Counterterrorism
In addition, new Subcommittees on Homeland Security under both House and Senate Appropriations Committees have been created.
When discussing government failures proceeding September 11, 2001, the focus tends to be on failures of the executive branch, but questions have also been raised about the effectiveness of legislative activities. The Subcommittee on Rules is studying whether Congress should structure itself to more effectively perform its responsibilities in light of the new policy and organizational focus afforded the issue of homeland security. Defining, or Redefining,
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