Chertoff Announces Six-Point Agenda for Department of Homeland Security

Secretary Michael Chertoff has a plan: a six-point agenda for the Department of Homeland Security designed to ensure that the department's policies, operations and structures are aligned in the best way to address the potential threats – both present and future.

"Our department must drive improvement with a sense of urgency. Our enemy constantly changes and adapts, so we as a department must be nimble and decisive," said Chertoff.

The changes reflect conclusions drawn as a result of the Second Stage Review, a careful study of nearly every element of the Department of Homeland Security. The purpose of the review was to recommend ways that DHS could better manage risk in terms of threat, vulnerability and consequence; prioritize policies and operational missions according to this risk-based approach; and establish a series of preventive and protective steps that would increase security at multiple levels.

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (HSA) provides certain flexibility for Chertoff, as DHS secretary, to establish, consolidate, alter or discontinue organizational units within the department. The mechanism for implementing these changes is a notification to Congress, allowing for the changes to take effect after 60 days.

"DHS must base its work on priorities driven by risk," said Chertoff. "Our goal is to maximize our security, but not security at any price. Our security regime must promote Americans' freedom, prosperity, mobility and individual privacy."

The secretary's six-point agenda will guide DHS in the near term and result in changes that should:

  • Increase overall preparedness, particularly for catastrophic events;
  • Create better transportation security systems to move people and cargo more securely and efficiently;
  • Strengthen border security and interior enforcement and reform immigration processes;
  • Enhance information sharing with our partners;
  • Improve DHS financial management, human resource development, procurement and information technology; and
  • Realign the DHS organization to maximize mission performance.

Chertoff said details of new policy initiatives in these six areas will be announced in the coming weeks and months, including:

  • A new approach to securing our borders through additional personnel, new technologies, infrastructure investments, and interior enforcement - coupled with efforts to reduce the demand for illegal border migration by channeling migrants seeking work into regulated legal channels;
  • Restructuring the current immigration process to enhance security and improve customer service;
  • Reaching out to state homeland security officials to improve information exchange protocols, refine the Homeland Security Advisory System, support state and regional data fusion centers, and address other topics of mutual concern; and
  • Investing in the department's most important asset – its people – with top-notch professional career training and development efforts.

The announcement by Chertoff that the department's focus would shift to risk assessment and prioritization was welcomed by officials of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents DHS workers in the Border Patrol, Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Charles Showalter, president of the AFGE National Homeland Security Council said he hoped the department would examine the overall morale of the officers of the Bureaus of Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "The government's own survey showed DHS employees to have far less confidence in their leaders than workers in other federal agencies, and a highly regarded think tank recently reported on a 'climate of fear' among Customs and Border Protection officers," he said.

Chertoff also announced two common sense changes to improve the way the Department does business.

Require 10-Fingerscan Standard for Foreign Visitors – DHS will strengthen the US-VISIT program to require a one-time, 10-finger scan capture upon enrollment, with continued use of two-print verification during later entries, to ensure the highest levels of accuracy in identifying people entering and exiting our country.

Eliminate 30-minute Rule for DCA Flights - As a result of numerous security measures established to protect passengers and air travel, DHS will eliminate the 30-minute rule preventing passengers from standing up within 30 minutes of takeoff or landing for flights to or from Ronald Reagan National Airport.

Organizational Initiatives: Structural Adjustments to DHS

Chertoff also announced details of his proposal for realigning the DHS to increase its ability to prepare, prevent and respond to terrorist attacks and other emergencies. These changes give DHS employees better tools to help them accomplish their mission. These management tools will:

  • Centralize and improve policy development and coordination. A new Directorate of Policy, ultimately led by an Under Secretary upon enactment of legislation, will serve as the primary department-wide coordinator for policies, regulations, and other initiatives. This directorate will ensure the consistency of policy and regulatory development across various parts of the department, as well as perform long-range strategic policy planning. It will assume the policy coordination functions previously performed by the Border and Transportation Security (BTS) Directorate. It will also create a single point of contact for internal and external stakeholders by consolidating or co-locating similar activities from across the department. This new directorate will include: the Office of International Affairs, the Office of Private Sector Liaison, the Homeland Security Advisory Council, the Office of Immigration Statistics and the Senior Asylum Officer.
  • Strengthen intelligence functions and information sharing. A new Office of Intelligence and Analysis will ensure that information is gathered from all relevant field operations and other parts of the intelligence community; analyzed with a mission-oriented focus; informative to senior decision-makers; and disseminated to the appropriate federal, state, local and private sector partners. Led by a chief intelligence officer who reports directly to the secretary, this office will be comprised of analysts within the former Information Analysis directorate and draw on expertise of other DHS components with intelligence collection and analysis operations.
  • Improve coordination and efficiency of operations. A new director of Operations Coordination will enable DHS to more effectively conduct joint operations across all organizational elements; coordinate incident management activities; and utilize all resources within the department to translate intelligence and policy into immediate action. The Homeland Security Operations Center, which serves as the nation's nerve center for information sharing and domestic incident management on 24/hour a day basis, will be a critical part of this new office.
  • Enhance coordination and deployment of preparedness assets. The Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate will be renamed the Directorate for Preparedness and consolidate preparedness assets from across the department. The Directorate for Preparedness will facilitate grants and oversee nationwide preparedness efforts supporting first responder training, citizen awareness, public health, infrastructure and cyber security and ensure proper steps are taken to protect high-risk targets. The directorate will be managed by an under secretary and will include a new assistant secretary for Cyber Security and Telecommunications, a new chief medical officer, an assistant secretary for Infrastructure Protection, assets of the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness responsible for grants, training and exercises; the U.S. Fire Administration; and the Office of National Capitol Region Coordination.

Other DHS realignments include:

Improve national response and recovery efforts by focusing FEMA on its core functions. FEMA will report directly to the secretary of Homeland Security. In order to strengthen and enhance the country's ability to respond to and recover from manmade or natural disasters, FEMA will now focus on its historic and vital mission of response and recovery.

Integrate federal air marshal service (FAMS) into broader aviation security efforts. The Federal Air Marshal Service will be moved from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bureau to the Transportation Security Administration to increase operational coordination and strengthen efforts to meet this common goal of aviation security.

Merge legislative and intergovernmental affairs. This new Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs will merge certain functions among the Office of Legislative Affairs and the Office of State and Local Government Coordination in order to streamline intergovernmental relations efforts and better share homeland security information with members of Congress as well as state and local officials.

Assign office of security to management directorate. The Office of Security will be moved to return oversight of that office to the under Saecretary for Management in order to better manage information systems, contractual activities, security accreditation, training and resources.

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