November 22, 2004 | WebMemo on Department of Homeland Security

Homeland Security and Congressional Reform: The Heritage Foundation's Research

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

by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Congress's failure to consolidate oversight of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the single greatest obstacle to creating an efficient and effective Department. The House Select Homeland Security Committee has issued a thoughtful report to House leadership that recommends establishing a permanent oversight committee with clear authority over all of DHS's homeland security operations. Congress must act and reform the rules to establish permanent oversight committees in both chambers.

 

Lack of Congressional Reform Leaves America Less Safe

by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.              

The House should make its Select Committee on Homeland Security permanent. In addition, the Committee should be given broad authority so that it can effectively oversee the Department of Homeland Security.

 

Homeland Security Needs Responsible Congressional Oversight

by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Supervision of DHS operations is fragmented and incoherent. Beyond having to testify before multiple committees in both chambers of Congress, DHS representatives must accept oversight from all of these committees. But their multiple interests and multiple and sometimes conflicting priorities exacerbate the challenge of building a comprehensive, focused national security regime. Congress needs to establish permanent committees in both chambers with full jurisdiction over the Department, as well as a role in the oversight of all critical national homeland security programs.

 

Testimony Before the House Select Committee on Homeland Security

by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Congress should create permanent committees in both houses to provide oversight for the Department of Homeland Security. Oversight of DHS activities requires standing committees with the expertise and experience to see the big picture and dig into the details. The House Select Committee on Homeland Security has already demonstrated that there can be value added in consolidating oversight in a single committee. Both chambers should create permanent standing committees to provide full oversight to DHS.

 

Housekeeping and Homeland Security

by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Oversight of DHS activities requires standing committees with the expertise and experience to see the big picture and dig into the details. The House Select Committee on Homeland Security has already demonstrated that there could be value added in consolidating oversight in a single committee. Leaving jurisdiction for the department's homeland security programs fragmented among a dozen committees runs counter to the intent behind the Homeland Security Act of 2002: Either merge functions, change cultures, and focus the federal government on homeland security or turn the initiative over to the terrorists.

 

9/11 Commission's Executive Focus Ignores Half the Picture

by Michael Scardaville

Little has been done to ensure that the legislative branch of the federal government is structured to debate homeland security legislation and to oversee federal security policy effectively. True, the House and the Senate have established appropriations subcommittees for homeland security in the 108th Congress. This reform has already allowed Congress to pass a single homeland security appropriations bill for FY2004. But neither chamber has transferred responsibility for certain aspects of homeland security to a single committee. This major shortcoming should be a major part of the 9/11 Commission's investigation.

 

The Homeland Security Authorization Bill: Streamlining the Budget Process

by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.              

The House Select Committee on Homeland Security has announced that it will pen an authorization bill for the disparate programs consolidated under the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the plethora of fresh initiatives undertaken by the DHS. A well-crafted oversight bill could offer more coherent statutory supervision of the DHS, as well as an opportunity to reconsider the entire authorization process for national security spending. To improve this process, Congress should establish biannual authorization of DHS and create permanent oversight committees in the House and Senate.

 

The New Congress Must Reform Its Committee Structure to Meet Homeland Security Needs

by Michael Scardaville

To implement a coordinated homeland security policy, the complex and overlapping congressional committee system that oversees the relevant agencies and departments must be reformed.

 

Promise and Progress: Homeland Security One Year Post-9/11

by Peter Brookes

To complement the creation of a DHS and facilitate Congress's legislative and budgetary role in homeland security, both the House and Senate should form a standing committee on homeland security with sole jurisdiction for the functions assumed by DHS. Subcommittees should be established to address the departmental divisions proposed by the President: border and transportation security, emergency preparedness and response, CBRN countermeasures, intelligence analysis, and infrastructure protection.

 

9/11 One Year Later: Progress and Promise

by Michael Scardaville and Jack Spencer

Congress lacks efficient mechanisms to legislate and provide oversight of federal homeland security efforts. Congress should develop a system that will allow agency heads and department secretaries to meet with a single committee in the House and Senate to discuss their involvement in homeland security. Each house of Congress should create a standing committee for homeland security, and that committee should establish a subcommittee for each of the four missions described by the President.

 

Congress Must Reform Its Committee Structure to Meet Homeland Security Needs

by Michael Scardaville

With the creation of the DHS, Congress must continue its vital oversight and legislative roles in homeland security, but these functions must be carried out in a balanced and commonsense manner. This cannot be achieved under the current fractured committee structure. Establishing authorizing standing committees with appropriations subcommittees on homeland security would allow DHS to work with one central committee in each chamber. Failure to do so will put at risk both the new department and future homeland security efforts.

 

Principles for Creating an Effective U.S. Department of Homeland Security

by Michael Scardaville

The authorizing and appropriations committee structure for homeland security must be revised in both chambers of Congress to reduce redundancy and simplify the legislative process. These committees should establish their own subcommittees that parallel the four divisions within the DHS. Existing committees and subcommittees that currently have authority for these areas should cede them to the new committee. Politically, this will be challenging for Congress because powerful committee chairmen are reluctant to relinquish power, even in the name of national security

 

The President's Proposal to Create a Department of Homeland Security: An Initial Assessment

by Michael Scardaville
Congress must reorganize the Congressional committee system. Under the status quo, Time and tax dollars will be wasted by having DHS officials consistently testifying in front of Congress, while important legislation is log jammed in committee due to legislative politics. Follies such as this occurred frequently prior to September 11. Congress must show its ability to lead and address the inefficiencies of its own house

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