Homeland Security: The Latest Research and Analysis

Report Homeland Security

Homeland Security: The Latest Research and Analysis

February 24, 2012 5 min read Download Report

In the wake of 9/11, the government undertook a number of initiatives to strengthen the security and resiliency of the supply chains that power the U.S. economy, safeguarding against both manmade and natural catastrophes. After a decade of experience in trying to keep the free flow of peoples, goods, services, and ideas moving in the face of terrorist threats, it is past time to reevaluate how effective these measures have been and how they can be improved.

The Heritage Foundation has recently published a number of Issue Briefs analyzing the Obama Administration’s policies and congressional proposals on homeland security. These writings cover port security, the global supply chain, the Department of Homeland Security’s operations and grant programs, and cybersecurity.

Ports and Borders

C-TPAT: Greater Commitment Needed to Secure the Supply Chain
James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., Paul Rosenzweig and Jessica Zuckerman
February 17, 2012


The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), initiated in November 2001, is a voluntary program offered to businesses by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to help enhance supply chain security. It is intended to create a more efficient way to ensure maritime cargo security while seeking to avoid unnecessary delays in the transport of legitimate goods.

While CBP’s commitment to extending benefits to C-TPAT members has been strong on paper, in practice, the provision of program benefits has received criticism. In particular, member companies have criticized CBP’s commitment to provide “green lane” treatment in the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or other serious supply chain disruption.

National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security Falls Short
James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., Paul Rosenzweig and Jessica Zuckerman
February 16, 2012


In January, the White House released its long-awaited National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security. The six-page report, however, does little to lay out a comprehensive strategic plan for supply chain security, instead providing a basic vision for future planning and implementation.

The supply chain involves more than commodities and their flow; it entails everything from research and design to materials and manufacturing to transport and delivery. Likewise, given the level of complexity, an adversary or threat can affect the integrity of the supply chain at any number of places along that process, making efforts to guard against all levels of threats all but impossible.

Secure and Resilient Supply Chain Requires More Robust Maritime Salvage Capability
James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.
February 11, 2012


America’s economy relies on seaborne trade. More than 90 percent of all U.S. trade travels through ports. Ensuring the continuity of operations and swift recovery from natural and manmade disasters remains essential for ensuring a robust and resilient supply chain.

Manmade threats to ports are significant. The U.S. Maritime and Infrastructure Recovery Plan noted “over 2,100 possible threat scenarios in hundreds of ports,” some with severe consequences. Maritime salvage includes the equipment and activities that help restore ports and waterways to working order. Among the critical tasks that salvage assets perform are stabilizing vessels, fighting fires, removing debris, and cleaning up hazardous material. Federal policies and programs are not optimized for facilitating maritime salvage response activities during large-scale disasters and mass emergencies.

Maritime Cargo Scanning Folly: Bad for the Economy, Wrong for Security
James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., and Jessica Zuckerman
February 2, 2012


In 2007, Congress mandated that 100 percent of the approximately 32,000 cargo containers entering U.S. ports each day be screened. The feasibility of this mandate has been questioned by security experts from day one.

A large part of the post-9/11 anxiety regarding maritime cargo security has centered on the “nuke in a suitcase” scenario, which has an extremely low probability of being carried out. The majority of cargo traveling through the maritime supply chain consists of legitimate goods. The 100 percent maritime screening mandate, however, fails to recognize this reality and instead treats every piece of cargo as a genuine threat.

With less than six months remaining until the July 1 deadline, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has made it clear that the mandate will not be met. In seeking to establish a workable alternative, Congress should consider supply chain realities in fostering a risk-based approach to maritime cargo security.

Homeland Security Operations and Grants

Fire Grants: Do Not Reauthorize an Ineffective Program
David Muhlhausen, Ph.D.
February 15, 2012


The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis evaluated the effectiveness of fire grants by matching fire grant award data to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, an incident-based database of fire-related emergencies reported by fire departments. Using panel data from 1999 to 2006 for more than 10,000 fire departments, the evaluation assessed the impact of fire grants on four different measures of fire casualties: (1) firefighter deaths, (2) firefighter injuries, (3) civilian deaths, and (4) civilian injuries.

The Heritage evaluation compared fire departments that received grants to fire departments that did not receive grants. In addition, the evaluation compared the impact of the grants before and after grant-funded fire departments received federal assistance.

Proposed Revisions to Homeland Security Grants Make Sense
Matt Mayer
February 14, 2012


The Obama Administration’s adoption of much of the previous Administration’s policies on fighting the war against terrorists is well known. Less well known is the increasing move toward other homeland security grant policies formulated in 2005 and early 2006. These moves, including the adoption of a risk and need model for allocating homeland security grants, are to be rightly applauded, as these reforms ultimately increase the security of America.

The new direction includes an important focus on “critical infrastructure and key resource protection and long-term vulnerability reduction” and prioritizing support to local counterterrorism activities.

DHS Office of Policy: Misguided Reorganization Threatens Homeland Security Strategic Planning
James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., and Jessica Zuckerman
February 13, 2012


As Congress begins its deliberations on President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request this week, it would be wise to look at more than just the raw numbers and examine the call for reorganization within DHS. The Office of Policy has made extensive strides in recent years to increase capacity and enhance department-wide policy development, planning, and programming. Today’s move on the part of the Administration, however, threatens to reverse much of this progress.

Shuffling components in and out of the Office of Policy would do little to enhance DHS’s strategic planning. Congress and the Administration should show a true commitment to fostering forward-looking policy planning within the department. Keeping the Office of Policy intact is one way to do that.


Promoting Cybersecurity Through the PRECISE Act
Paul Rosenzweig
February 6, 2012


The PRECISE bill gives the Secretary of Homeland Security a leading role in cybersecurity. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is given responsibility for maintaining a clearinghouse of cyber threat information and disseminating that information broadly within the federal government and to the private sector. Thus, under the Lungren bill, the civilian sector would lead in cybersecurity, rather than the military. More than a year ago, in setting out 10 conservative principles to guide cybersecurity legislation, Heritage asserted that this is probably the correct choice.

PRECISE has a comparatively light, risk-assessment and standards-based approach that would be significantly less intrusive on the private sector than either the earlier Senate drafts or the Obama Administration proposal.