Academic journal article The Public Manager

Building a Department of Homeland Security: The Management Theory. (Views You Can Use)

Academic journal article The Public Manager

Building a Department of Homeland Security: The Management Theory. (Views You Can Use)

Article excerpt

From a management standpoint, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) could turn into one of the Bush administration's most important acts, with desirable, lasting, and permanent results. With this step, the administration paved the way for increased administrative efficiency and effectiveness in its counter-terrorism activities. However, it is not the obvious argument of economy of scale that makes the case. In fact, there may not be much in the way of budgetary savings since DHS' fiscal year (FY) 2004 proposed budget is greater than the FY 2003. But through this reorganization of the agencies providing homeland security-related services, the government improves its ability to more effectively deal with security threats.

What makes these improvements possible in how the government prepares for homeland security is the concept of organizing by purpose. As Herbert Simon points out, "Administrative efficiency is supposed to be increased by grouping workers according to (a) purpose, (b) process, (c) clientele, or (d) place." While all of these to some degree are mutually exclusive, the primary consideration for DHS is purpose. All organizations with a primary and even secondary role in homeland security are consolidated under one authority that serves to organize and direct their actions towards a collective goal. Clientele applies in the negative in that they are not looking to serve someone, but to protect against a common foe--those that would harm the United States or its citizens through acts of terror.

It is worth noting that several agencies that were not merged into DHS, most notably the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), still present a challenge for DHS. Information coordination and interagency collaboration are not hallmarks of either of these agencies and as a result, these areas may still suffer some of the same breakdowns that existed prior to 9/11. However for agencies that were merged, the improvements occurs on several levels:

* Command. Most improved by this reorganization is the concept of unity of command. From over 25 department heads competing for the lead role in homeland security, the DHS secretary has been identified as the clear principal leader in issues dealing with homeland security. This clarity as to who is the authority on homeland security eliminates the confusion, ambiguity, and lack of clarity that existed in the pre-9/11 structure. This unity of command improves the government's ability to mobilize its resources and provide a coordinated response to any threat.

* Coordination. Command leads us to the second improvement, coordination. Since the mission of homeland security is to be subdivided among 22 component units of the government within DHS and also involves other outside agencies, coordination becomes a critical activity in any future success. The Department of Homeland Security provides the coordination to channel efforts of the 22 agencies to a singular purpose. In addition, DHS also provides a focal point for other agencies, such as the FBI, CIA, and the Departments of Defense and Justice, to coordinate their homeland security activities. The result is an improved government whose total effort is devoted to a common purpose, something that did not necessarily exist prior to 9/11.

* Communication. One of the benefits of improved command and coordination is communication. With 22 agencies linked by a common authority, the transfer of knowledge and information between those who know and those who need to know to perform their jobs effectively should improve. …

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