Lawmakers suggest major restructuring for DHS

The Homeland Security Department may find budget savings for taxpayers if it consolidates its regional offices, according to a bipartisan group of congressional leaders requesting a report on that possibility.

For starters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is the disaster preparedness and response unit of DHS, is organized with 10 regional offices. Consolidating border security agencies into similar regional offices is likely to create efficiencies, Rep. Candice Miller, (R-Mich) chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, said in a statement on Oct. 14.

Miller, along with three other lawmakers, wrote a letter to the Government Accountability Office requesting the regional consolidation study of DHS on Oct. 11.


Related story:

Ten years after 9/11, DHS still transforming


 

The letter also was signed by Sens. Joseph Lieberman, (I-Conn) and Susan Collins, (R-Maine), who are the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Rep. Henry Cuellar ( D-Texas) also signed the letter.

Miller suggested Selfridge Air National Guard Base in northeastern Michigan as the “logical headquarters” for a DHS prospective Midwestern regional office.

Selfridge already houses an operations center for DHS’ Customs and Border Protection’s Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch, which coordinates with other federal, state and local partners.

“My goal with this GAO report is to examine whether or not a similar organization will enable DHS to achieve cost savings and at the same time improve border security operations. I am a firm believer that it will, and I look forward to receiving this report,” Miller said.

DHS opened its doors in 2003 as a consolidation of 22 federal agencies. In 2004, then-secretary Tom Ridge issued a report revealing plans for specific consolidations along with an agenda of additional consolidations to be carried out in the future.

The issue of regional consolidations received renewed attention under Secretary Janet Napolitano in 2010. Her review recommended a regional realignment but suggested further examinations of mechanisms to accomplish that. However, “it is not apparent that any efforts have been made to date within the Department to implement this recommendation,” Miller, Lieberman and the others wrote.

The new report being requested of GAO would determine potential administrative and logistical cost savings, operational efficiencies, or other  benefits, while also accounting for potential costs and detriments of the consolidation.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.