Reforming the Department of Homeland Security: The Heritage Foundation's Research

Report Homeland Security

Reforming the Department of Homeland Security: The Heritage Foundation's Research

March 30, 2005 10 min read
The Heritage Foundation

Newly appointed Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, in his first major speech on March 16, 2005, hosted by the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute, announced he was undertaking a top-down review of the organization of the Department. "Old categories, old jurisdictions, old turf will not define our objectives or the measure of our achievements," he declared, "because bureaucratic structures and categories exist to serve our mission, not to drive it." In rethinking the structure and missions of the department, the Secretary could well turn to The Heritage Foundation's homeland security research, which has examined in depth many of the key organizational challenges facing the Department.


Homeland Security Dollars and Sense #3: Checkbook Security Is Not Enough

By James J. Carafano, Ph.D.

Many of the claims that fraud and incompetent management plague the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are either false or overblown. None of the fourteen audits of the Department revealed any suspect activity. Likewise, many delays and funding mismanagement are created at the state and local level. However, DHS does waste too much funding by having no clear priority system for where the money goes. Therefore, many less important projects receive a disproportionate amount of funding. Although DHS is in the process of implementing a system to more effectively allot funding, Congress needs to refrain from allocating large sums of money to the Department until the system is firmly in place.


Border Securities: Setting the Right Federal Priorities

By James J. Carafano, Ph.D.

The American government and Congress need to make a bipartisan effort to keep America's borders safe and the nation more secure. National security, economic growth, and liberty are interdependent, and the structure of the government should reflect this dynamic. DHS should direct a single border services agency that issues visas, oversees customs, and protects America's borders. It is most important for the Department to monitor legal movement between borders and reduce illegal passage.


Before the Subcommittee on Management, Integration and Oversight, House Committee on Homeland Security

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigrations-Customs Enforcement (ICE) agencies should be merged into a single DHS agency. The Department was created to consolidate the agencies involved in border control and immigration, thereby reducing inefficiency and overlap. Although the Department has been somewhat successful in this goal, the current split between the CBP and ICE still causes confusion and wastefulness. If merged, the two agencies could create a single coalition of border and immigration enforcement.


Making the Sea Safer: A National Agenda for Maritime Security and Counterterrorism

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., and Alane Kochems

DHS plays an important role in protecting maritime commerce from attack or unlawful seizure. The gap in resources must be closed between the Coast Guard and DHS. Additionally, the Department needs to facilitate more partnerships with the private sector to most effectively combat maritime terrorism.


Before the House Budget Committee

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Congress needs to more carefully monitor information technology spending by DHS agencies, as ill-planned programs tend to create ballooning costs. The Department also needs to dedicate more funding to human resources programming. The Department has to create an effective, cohesive workforce from 180,000 personnel in over 22 agencies.


Before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

DHS needs to be evaluated in terms of its effectiveness in protecting the nation's security. The Department was analyzed in terms of management, roles and missions, authorities, and resources and recommendations were then formed. The Department first needs to focus on making its management more effective. The whole rationale behind the creation of DHS was to enhance the synergy and efficiency of homeland security efforts by several agencies under one department. Therefore, the management must be able to effectively implement Department-wide policies and procedures. The Department also needs a more extensive and organized system of policy-making. DHS should also consolidate the CBP and ICE for more effective border management. The President and Congress should create a nonpartisan commission to evaluate the Department in all of these areas of improvement.


Organizing for Victory: Proposals for Building a Regional Homeland Security Structure

By Edwin Meese III, James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., and Richard Weitz, Ph.D.

DHS is organizing a new regional structure to govern how the Department deals with state and local agencies. DHS needs to clearly articulate its goals and guiding principles of its plan. The Department should focus on increasing coordination, planning, and information sharing between agencies on all levels of government. DHS plans to implement 8 to 10 regional centers to organize such efforts. DHS also needs to determine how it will reorganize its secretariat to oversee the new regional structure.


DHS 2.0: Rethinking the Department of Homeland Security

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., and David Heyman

This report presents the findings of a task force that examined the organization and operations of DHS in light of the mandate set out for it in the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The task force developed over 40 recommendations.


After Ridge-Much Done Much Still to Do

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Tom Ridge, the first secretary of DHS, leaves both a great legacy and a lot of unfinished work in the wake of his resignation. Although Ridge set the foundations for many effective programs, considerable flaws within the new administration stifled his efforts. His successor must work with Congress to create a more integrated leadership within the Department, to consolidate border and transportation security agencies, to establish better mechanisms for fund allocation, and to empower executives in key defense industries.


Homework: Congress Needs To Return with a Better Plan to Reform Homeland Security Oversight

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Congress's biggest roadblock to creating an effective and efficient DHS is its inability to consolidate leadership within the Department. Many policy experts agreed that it was important for Congress to reform its committee system and establish a permanent, dedicated oversight committee for the Department. However, committee chairs have been unwilling to surrender any power over the 22 agencies now encompassed by DHS. This refusal has blocked several important reforms.


Department of Homeland Security Needs Under Secretary for Policy

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., Richard Weitz, and Alane Kochems

DHS currently lacks a high-ranking policy officer and the adequate staff to effectively implement the President's policies. DHS needs a senior policy officer with straight access to the Secretary. The Department should not add new staff, but rather reorganize the staff it has into a more organized structure. DHS can look to the Department of Defense (DOD) as an example of such organization. By creating an office for the Under Secretary of Policy, the Department should be able to run more smoothly.


What the 9/11 Commission's Report Should Contain: Four Recommendations for Making America Safer

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

The creation of DHS by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 was just the first step in ensuring greater national security. The 9/11 Commission Report should have several important recommendations to improve DHS. They should advocate for responsible intelligence reform and the strengthening of DHS. Additionally, they should urge Congress to reauthorize the provisions of the Patriot Act that are set to expire in December 2005. They should also promote the use of information technology to more effectively combat terrorism. Finally, they should recommend that both houses of Congress establish permanent homeland security oversight committees.


Protectionism Compromises America's Homeland Security

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., Tim Kane, Ph.D., Dan Mitchell, Ph.D., and Ha Nyugen

DHS should be allowed, and even encouraged to outsource security contracts when profitable to ensure that America gets excellent security for a good value. To preserve DHS's ability to outsource, Congress and the Bush administration should remove any barriers to outsourcing in the Homeland Security Act and any appropriations bills. However, they should insist that DHS require companies to follow strict security practices and should establish a system for checking the security of such contractors. Congress should also refrain from implementing protectionist policies that would hinder the creation of private contracts.


Housekeeping and Homeland Security

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Congress needs to create a permanent oversight committee for DHS. In creating the Department, the government pulled together 180,000 employees from 22 existing agencies. Clearly, a permanent committee is needed to organize and unify these people into an efficient, effective department. The war on terror will be long and protracted, so a permanent committee must be established to consider the future of the Department.


Homeland Security Grant Bill Needs Revision But Is a Step in the Right Direction

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Federal funds cannot meet all of the nation's security needs, but should instead be used in combination with state and local resources. DHS and the Department of Health and Human Services must coordinate their grant processes to eliminate the need for state and local governments to submit duplicate paperwork. The government should also establish a separate and independent organization within DHS to evaluate the success of such grants.


Improving Federal Response to Catastrophic Bioterrorist Attacks: The Next Steps

James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Before the creation of DHS, multiple agencies across different departments shared responsibility for assisting at the site of a bioterrorist attack. Although the Department is now primarily in charge, many important aspects of the effort lie beyond its control. Additionally, the Department still has many organizational and communication problems. Congress needs to create an Assistant Secretary for Bioterrorism and Infectious Disease Response, who would make sure that all plans are consistent and allow for rapid response to an attack. DHS and the Department of Health and Human Services also need to collaborate in an effort to make sure their grant programs most efficiently deliver aid to communities targeted in an attack of bioterrorism.


Better Intelligence Sharing for Visa Issuance and Monitoring: An Imperative for Homeland Security

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

The terrorist attacks of September 11 have made painfully clear the importance of a secure visa issuance. After the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, DHS has become the main department in charge of visa issuance and monitoring. Considering the importance of this task, Congress should establish a permanent oversight committee for DHS to ensure the proper functioning of the department. Additionally, the Office of Visa Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs should be moved from the Department of State to the Department of Homeland Security to further consolidate immigration oversight. Finally, DHS needs to devise a uniform system of evaluation for its system of visa issuance, so as to more easily solve problems in a timely fashion.


Harmonizing House and Senate Appropriations for Homeland Security

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

While determining appropriations for DHS, Congress should be sure to prioritize key initiatives. It should be sure to direct funding towards important programs, while refraining from pouring money into less important and developed projects. It should give more funding towards Coast Guard modernization. Additionally, they should consolidate all state and local funding under a single organization in DHS. Congress should insist that DHS come up with national standards for emergency preparedness, as well as take a more cautious approach towards information technology. Many DHS programs dealing with such technology are not yet organized well enough to efficiently utilize funding.


Principles the Department of Homeland Security Must Follow for an Effective Transition

By Michael Scardaville

Tom Ridge faces a tough job when the newly-created DHS absorbs 22 government agencies and 180,000 employees. Ridge should develop a "multi-use culture" that will help the agency handle diverse responsibilities. He should use the private sector as an example when fashioning efficient programs with minimum redundancy. He should also take care to preserve civil liberties through the empowerment of the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Fourth, he needs to address deficiencies in the Homeland Security Act. Finally, he must create regional offices to oversee state and local grant programs.


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