DHS can improve, experts say

The Homeland Security Department should restructure management, experts tell a Senate committee.

The Homeland Security Department's overall performance can be improved by restructuring management, more clearly defining roles and responsibilities, developing better strategic plans and analyses, and providing more staff and training, experts said today during a Senate hearing.

The department isn't moving forward as a coherent entity but as a bunch of individual programs, said James Carafano, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, before the newly renamed Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

He said DHS officials can't say how they can maximize investments. "If we have $10 to invest tomorrow, explain to me how we can invest [it], and they can't do that right now," he said.

Carafano, along with a who's who of experts from top think tanks in Washington, D.C., said the department — formed by merging 22 disparate agencies and 180,000 employees — has come a long way in its short two-year existence and the nation's security has generally improved. But they also said gaps exist that officials should fix now.

Stephen Flynn, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations said he would give DHS a C-minus for overall performance. He added that department officials need to develop senior executives and provide senior management with more staff. The chief operating officer "has five people and some of the lousiest office space in Washington," he said.

Flynn, a former Coast Guard officer, said some law enforcement officers in DHS, such as Border Patrol agents, need more training. They receive most training on the job.

Carafano, who recently co-authored a study about DHS management with David Heyman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said department officials should create an undersecretary for policy and an undersecretary for preparedness and protection. They should also strengthen the chief information officer's authority, he added, among more than 40 recommendations.

However, Richard Falkenrath, a former deputy homeland security adviser in the White House who helped design DHS, said he didn't think management issues are a top concern. He said the performance of the department's leaders exceeded his own expectations and DHS management is no worse than any other federal department's. And they don't have to deal with reorganization challenges.

That doesn't mean there is nothing sacrosanct in DHS, but statutory changes should not drive internal reorganization. The new DHS secretary should be given a chance to understand the situation, but Congress should probably consider increasing his authority so he can unilaterally reorganize the department, said Falkenrath, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution.

However, he pointed out areas that do need improvement, especially in securing hazardous chemicals. He said these chemicals are hauled through cities with low security and since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, essentially nothing has been done to improve it.

"This needs to be the next big push in critical infrastructure," he said.

He also pointed to improving credentials and identification standards, such as for driver's licenses, and providing a coherent plan to improve rails, trains, trucks and mass transit through access controls, sensors and other technologies.

Another issue was merging the Customs and Border Protection with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Flynn said ICE is in "total disarray" and called it "an agency in search of a mission." He favors a merger. However, Michael Wermuth, senior policy analyst at the RAND Corp., said further study is needed. Falkenrath said he was against it.

At the request of chairwoman Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Richard Skinner, the department's inspector general, said he will look into whether those two agencies should be merged.

Several senators, however, said more funding isn't the answer. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who is chairman of the Appropriations Committee, almost seemed to admonish the panel for suggesting that their suggestions would mean spending more money on the department.

"I don't think there's going to be more money," he said. "In fact, I know there's not going to be any money."

After the hearing, Carafano said he doesn't favor expanding the DHS budget or adding more people, but he favors reorganizing how money and employees would be allocated. He said he is on record for doubling the Coast Guard's modernization budget, money that can come from other parts of the federal government.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.