DHS 2.0: Rethinking the Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security needs extensive restructuring, according to a special report, "DHS 2.0: Rethinking the Department of Homeland Security," from James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., and David Heyman.

The report presents the conclusions of a task force charged with examining the organization and operations of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The task force included representatives from academia, research centers, the private sector, and congressional staff and was chaired by homeland security experts from the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Heritage Foundation. The task force evaluated DHS's capacity to fulfill its mandate as set out in the Homeland Security Act of 2002 based on four criteria: management, roles and missions, authorities and resources.

Based on this analysis, conducted through seminars, an extensive literature search, and interviews, the task force developed over 40 major recommendations. Together, these proposals make the case for a significant reorganization of the department to make it a more effective and efficient instrument for preventing and responding to terrorist threats.

Each section of the report consists of findings and recommendations agreed upon by the task force. Major recommendations in the report include:

  • Strengthening the Secretary of Homeland Security's policymaking function by creating an Undersecretary for Policy.
  • Empowering the secretary by establishing a "flatter" organizational structure through (1) consolidating and strengthening agencies with overlapping missions; (2) eliminating middle-management (director-ate) layers over border and transportation security, preparedness and response, and information analysis and infrastructure protection; and (3) having the agencies report directly to the secretary via the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • Rationalizing government spending by establishing a risk-based mechanism for department-wide resource allocation and grant-making and by developing pre-determined "response packages" to respond to catastrophic terrorism.
  • Clarifying authorities and national leadership roles for bio-defense, cyberdefense and critical infra-structure protection.
  • Improving departmental oversight by rationalizing congressional committee structure and establishing permanent oversight committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

According to the Heritage Foundation, Congress and the Bush administration need to develop a comprehensive plan to restructure the department, including establishing a nonpartisan commission to review the performance of the department and assess its capacity to fulfill the missions outlined in the Homeland Security Act in the areas of management, missions, authorities and resources and to report back within 6 months.

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