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June 8, 2004

June 8, 2004 | News Releases on

Shift Homeland Security Focus to Nationwide System Analyst Says

WASHINGTON, JUNE 9, 2004-After 9/11, Congress and the Bush administration worked quickly to close the most significant holes in homeland security. We now spend 2 ½ times more each year to secure America than we did before 9/11.

But the emergencies to which that funding was dedicated have abated. Soon, appropriators will begin to consider the Department of Homeland Security's long-term needs. According to a new paper from The Heritage Foundation, Congress needs to remember that it's no longer putting out fires and work within a different set of principles, says James Jay Carafano, a 25-year military veteran, homeland security specialist and author of the paper.

Among those principles:

  • Give priority to investments that will create a true national preparedness system. Invest in state and local needs only when they contribute to a national fabric of preparedness.
  • Develop federal capacity to deal with catastrophic terrorism. The next big strike could be much more serious than the last.
  • Ensure taxpayers get "bang for the buck"-that the programs we support make the most efficient and effective use of our money. For instance, says Carafano, public-private partnerships to beef up port security are among the most-needed and least expensive proposals out there.
  • Keep a close watch on information-technology spending. DHS has an ambitious list of IT-related programs already in the works, including those for screening immigrants and airplane passengers, and the DHS inspector general already has warned that systems now in place are not sufficiently integrated or secure. Temper the ambition, Carafano says, and get what we have now working properly.
  • Invest in human capital. Training may not be as glamorous a purchase as big-ticket IT items, but it is especially critical for an organization that must wed the culture of 22 different agencies and 180,000 people, Carafano says.
  • Bring order to the funding process. Ensure that homeland security and non-homeland security activities covered by the same appropriation are not placed in competition with one another.
  • Declare the appropriation a "no-earmark zone." This is national security, Carafano says, not school funding. It must be funded appropriately.
"This is our opportunity to create a true national homeland-security strategy, to figure out its needs and to create a streamlined department to carry out these critical missions," said Carafano. "It's too important a mission for lawmakers to play politics."

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