Homeland Security: Not Ready, Too Big

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Homeland Security, The War On Terrorism

The non-partisan Government Accountability Office just released its report about our Department of Homeland Security and the findings aren’t encouraging.

From Wash Post:

The GAO states that after the largest government merger in more than half a century, the DHS met fewer than half of its performance objectives, or 78 of 171 directives identified by President Bush, Congress and the department’s own strategic plans. The department strongly disputed the report.

In one of its harshest conclusions, the 320-page document states that the DHS has made the least progress toward some of the fundamental goals identified after the 2001 attacks and again after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005: improving emergency preparedness; capitalizing on the nation’s wealth and scientific prowess through “Manhattan project”-style research initiatives; and eliminating bureaucratic and technical barriers to information-sharing.

Yesterday, Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) said that although the DHS “has made important progress,” it requires more focused attention and money. “Clearly, we have a long way to go before the department achieves the goals we set out for it four and a half years ago,” said Lieberman, who will chair a hearing on the matter this afternoon.

I believe this department, whether its formation was wise or not, is of paramount importance because our borders still aren’t secure and our ports are still wide open. And it’s also a tragic irony that this report finds that the most important thing it was created to do is being prevented because, well, it was created in the first place. What do I mean? Read more…

GAO analysts acknowledged that DHS’s enormous size and complexity — spanning 220,000 employees and 22 component agencies — make the challenge “especially daunting and important.” They also said they do not intend to suggest that the DHS should have already met all expectations. “Successful transformations of large organizations, even those faced with less strenuous reorganizations than DHS, can take at least 5 to 7 years to achieve,” the GAO stated.

Still, although prior studies focused on the DHS’s many organizational problems — leading Chertoff to direct the department to sharpen its focus after he took office in February 2005 — the report indicates that it still has difficulty carrying out policy decisions and setting priorities.

In other words, we created it so we could have a more nimble response to national security threats, but its WAY too big to be nimble in response to national security threats. Or even threats from Mother Nature, as Katrina showed us.

Should a re-org of the DHS be a top priority for the next President? I think so.


This entry was posted on Thursday, September 6th, 2007 and is filed under Homeland Security, The War On Terrorism. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Homeland Security: Not Ready, Too Big”

  1. Jeremy Says:

    The Department of Fatherland, no Motherland, oh yes! I remember now, Homeland Security. Yes, I must give them credit, we have not seen an attack in America since 9-11. I wonder if Bush phoned Bin Ladin and asked him whether he could postpone his next attack until the Democrats are in office?

    I picture post-White House Bush helping terrorists attack America so he can say: “See! I told you so!” these damn Defeatocrats let the terrorists attack us, now we gots ta elect another neocon like me to fight these terrorists.

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