More Changes in Store for DHS

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says the newest U.S. Cabinet department has still more changes ahead.

Speaking at a Washington conference on excellence in government July 25, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said a "second-stage review" of the Department of Homeland Security, which was created from 22 separate federal entities by the Bush administration in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, indicates the need for some changes.

Chertoff suggested making four changes:

  • Unify the department's intelligence function under a chief intelligence officer;
  • Unify the operations structure that must act on intelligence;
  • Plan and make policy in an integrated, department-wide fashion rather than "simply assembling the policies of the individual components;" and
  • Place within one component all preparedness functions – planning, training, exercising and grant-making – in order to impose unity and comprehensiveness on those functions.

Chertoff laid out the department's guiding principles: to be results-oriented, network-focused and adaptable and to use risk management to manage priorities.

"We have to measure our success in terms of the outcomes we produce," Chertoff said. Ordinary citizens don't care about process, he said; they care about their safety while going about their daily lives.

Successful government function today is not a matter of command and control, Chertoff said, but rather the ability to network with other government agencies – in the United States, that means federal, state and local agencies – and with the private sector.

Improved networking capabilities between federal, state and local agencies and the private sector means that the DHS can adapt more quickly to changes in the global environment.

"We know the enemy adapts rapidly to change," Chertoff said, shifting in response to U.S. actions overseas. "[W]e have to be able to match that." What's needed, he continued, is a Homeland Security culture that can change – even urgently – to meet new threats, new technology and new assets that need protection.

Prioritization of assets is another challenge, said Chertoff.

"[W]e cannot protect every single person against every single threat at every moment and in every place," he said. Given finite resources and personnel, he continued, "We have to … focus ourselves on those priorities which most demand our attention." That means, he said, the department must focus on risk in the context of consequences, vulnerability and threat.

"We do not want to have a fortress state," Chertoff said. Americans want a "secure" nation, not a "security" nation. That means competing factors of security and freedom must be weighed. The United States will lose the war against terrorism, he said, if it becomes a fortress or if it sacrifices things held dear for more protection.

"We want to find that level of protection which addresses our greatest risks," he said, but "in a way that is consistent with the values that everybody in this country holds very dear."

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