Department Of Homeland Security Progress

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was formed in 2001 as a counter response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks with the primary responsibilities of protecting the territory of the US and protectorates from and responding to terrorist attacks, man-made accidents, natural disasters, customs, border and immigration enforcement and cyber security.

DHS combined a total of 22 different federal departments and agencies into a unified, integrated cabinet agency. 21st September 2001, ten days after the 9/11 attacks Tom Ridge was appointed as the first director of DHS in the White house, after the president issued Executive Order 13228. The office then was to oversee and coordinate national strategy to safeguard the country against terrorism attacks and respond to any further attacks. With the passage of the Homeland Security Act by the congress in November 2002 it officially became independent Cabinet – level department and officially opened its doors on 1st March 2003 (Best Jr, 2003).

On February 5th 2005 Secretary Michael Chertoff took over office and initiated a Second Stage Review (2SR) to evaluate the department’s operations, policies and structures. More than 250 members of the department and 18 member action-team participated in this programme. A six point agenda was drawn from this 2SR that included a significant reorganization of the department (Best Jr, 2003).

 The six point agenda include:

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

In line with the 2SR a new directorate of policy was created to be the primary department coordinator for policies, regulations and other initiatives, ensure consistency of policy and regulatory development across the department, perform long range strategic policy planning, assume the policy coordination function previously performed by the Border Transportation Security Directorate and finally include office of International Affairs, office of Private Sector Liaison, Homeland Security Advisory Council, office of Immigration Statistics and senior Asylum Officer.

Other structural adjustments made included; strengthening of Intelligence functions and information sharing, improvement of coordination and efficiency of operations, enhancement of co ordinations and deployment of preparedness asset, improving national response and recovery efforts by focusing on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on its core functions, integration of Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) into broader aviation security efforts, merge legislative and intergovernmental affairs and assigning of office of security to management directorate.

In august 2005, FEMA’s inability to respond to major catastrophe was revealed when the hurricane Katrina and Rita struck, as a result the passage of public law 109-295: DHS Appropriation Act, 2007 gave the appointment of the administrator of FEMA to the president with reporting directly to the secretary of DHS (Martorella, 2006).

It’s inevitable that DHS had to undergo various changes because the issues that it was formed to solve have changed or taken a different shape thus it has to change to handle emerging issues. It has established ties both locally and internationally to enable it to tackle diverse security issues. DHS has also collaborated with other organs to help in their efficiency both private and public to realize a safe and secure nation for the American citizens.

Department Of Homeland Security Agencies

The legislation establishing DHS envisioned an information analysis element with the responsibility for acquiring and reviewing information from the agencies of the intelligence community. As earlier mentioned there are 22 agencies that joined up to form DHS, they were categorised into various departments and the departments include;

  • United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) that is charged with the mandate of checking on immigrants by granting immigrations and citizenship benefits, promoting awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of the immigration system.
  • United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) it’s one of the largest and most complex components, with the mission of keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the US, it also has the responsibility of securing and facilitating trade and travel while enforcing hundreds of US regulations including immigration and drug laws.
  • United States Coast Guards (USCG) this is the only military organization within DHS it is charged with the responsibility of protecting maritime economy and the environments. It is one of the five armed forces of the US (King, & Murray, C.2001).
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as earlier mentioned it is a disaster response team. It ensures that the nation builds, sustains and improve its capacity to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
  • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) it’s a training center for law enforcers for their proficiency in delivering their duties.
  • Transport Security Administration (TSA) it protects the transport system of the country to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.
  • United States Secret Service (USSS) it safeguards the nation’s financial infrastructure and payment system to preserve the integrity of the economy and protect national leaders, visiting heads of state and government, designated sites and national special security events.
  • Management Directorate which is responsible for department budgets and appropriations, expenditure of funds, accounting and finance, procurement; human resources, information technology system, facilities and equipment, and identification and tracking of performance measures
  • National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) its work is to advance the department’s risk-reducing mission. Reducing risks requires an integrated approach that encompasses both physical and virtual threats and their associated human elements.
  • Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) it provides federal, state and local officials with the technology and capacity to protect the homeland.
  • Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) works to enhance the nuclear detection efforts of federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local government and the private sector and to ensure coordinate response to such situations.
  • Office of Health Affairs (OHA) ensures appropriate preparedness for and response to incidents having medical significance within the DHS.
  • Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) responsible for using information and intelligence from multiple sources to identify and assess current and future threats to the US.
  • Office of Operations Coordination and Planning is responsible for monitoring the security of the US on a daily basis and coordinating activities within the department and with governors, HDS advisors, law enforcement partners and critical infrastructure operators in 50 states.
  • Office of Policy is the primary policy formulation and coordination component for the DHS. It provides a centralised, coordinated focus to the development of department –wide, long – range planning to protect the US.

These are the major departments of the DHS of which the 22 agencies that joined were put to function (Martorella, 2006).

The Structure Of Department Of Homeland Security

The DHS has a large number of officials in its leadership system that is quite noticeable as you go through the structure, headed by an executive secretariat then by a secretary it creates a lot of bureaucracy in decision making that becomes a challenge to an organization of its nature. This department is based on efficiency rather than bureaucracy which may pose as a challenge especially in times of disaster or implementation of emergency protocols. The number of high ranking officials should be reduced and more personnel sent to the field for prompt action in case of emergency or in times of disaster.

However much there is organization of departments and their roles you notice that there are some departments that could be merged to regulate the flow of information for example what is the need for citizenship and immigration service and immigration and customs department which could as well work as one agency. However much it might be considered as order to some point it creates more of confusion and it may create confusion in roles or breaching in roles when the officers are on duty, laxity may also factor in. it is appropriate that some of these agencies are merged to cut on both expenditure and improve on efficiency (Martorella, 2006).

Finally the numerous officials in their structure mean a lot of financial wastage on a department that could use little and save more for the economy. The fact that there are many people in the structure means many people can have access to high level information that could means selling out of the departments high level operations very easily. They handle high level information like details on counter terrorism, cybercrimes and highly contagious diseases. In case such information leak it could leak to it could lead to general public panic and enemies of the state could have upper hand against them. The number of personnel who have access to high level information should be reduced and that means less number of high ranking officials (Best Jr, 2003).

Challenges In Department Of Homeland Security

There are significant issues that if not solved may deter the proper functioning of DHS, some of these issues maybe fuelled from within and from without. Some of the challenges may include; one major issue is lack of clarity with its relations and some of its agencies, in the DHS website you find websites of some of the websites for the agencies whose mission do not go in hand with that of DHS this can prove negative for their image as a department having agencies within it not of the same goal as the parent department. Some of the agencies as well still do not acknowledge DHS this may make it seem like they are just working to fulfil a duty, to be under DHS. This needs to be addressed as it may cause breakouts within the department as well as functionality flaws to sabotage the overall duties of DHS.

Some agencies within the DHS may decline in their functionality as compared to when they were not tied to DHS. Example FEMA’s role in providing assistance to local authority during disaster would diminish this is due to the different roles they have been allocated under DHS which include providing grants to first responders and assist local authority with training and response planning. This new roles may deter FEMA from fulfilling its traditional mandate due lack of enough manpower and resources. This may cripple some agencies original purpose thus the government should find a way on how to ensure the agencies still fulfil their original duties.

The other challenge is the factor on budgetary allocation, the budget is not enough to adequately run all its agencies this may cause a bit of inefficiency in some agencies that do not get the required amount of allocation. The adequacy of personnel also may mean lack of training in those respective areas to sustain the respective duty area. This should be addressed by increasing the amount of budgetary allocation to the DHS.

Road Blocks To Achieving Its Goals

Some of the issues discussed above maybe viewed as roadblocks that bar Department Of Homeland Security from achieving its goals but some of the barriers am going to discuss are driven from within, some these factors are pushed not by external factors. DHS handles highly sensitive information, with an equally vast department of over 20 agencies which specialize in distinct areas this leads to a very high level of bureaucracy and redundancy leading to wastage of time and resources (Martorella, 2006).  This may lead to lack of attention on some of the issues raised by individual agencies but rather focus on the department as a whole. Some of these agencies share other departments apart from DHS for example the coastguards are also under the armed forces thus it is hard to tie their allegiance to DHS.

There are some agencies that have their functions change due to the period of time they have to get into action and the dynamic nature of the international society. FEMA is charged with was charged with the duty of helping out people caught up with disasters but the current system has early disaster warning mechanism (Martorella, 2006).

This makes their work either easier or nonexistent hence it’s a lot easier if they shifted their functionality and trained the locals in case of any disaster.

The budgetary allocation is an issue they can only present their request for an increase or cut down there expenditure. This is because it’s up to the congress to decide whether they should receive an increase or not. The most viable solution to the problem is to reduce their annual expenditure to fit in with that of their budgetary allocation (King, & Murray, C.2001).

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