Academic journal article Homeland Security Affairs

Federalism, Homeland Security and National Preparedness: A Case Study in the Development of Public Policy

Academic journal article Homeland Security Affairs

Federalism, Homeland Security and National Preparedness: A Case Study in the Development of Public Policy

Article excerpt


The purpose of this article is to describe an ongoing research project that explores the relationship between federalism and homeland security national preparedness. The challenges associated with this area of public policy require solutions for which the existing structures and paradigms must be changed to ensure the greatest level of preparedness possible.

There is a great deal to say on the subject of the policy environment of homeland security. Fundamental to any discussion should be a strong foundation in federalism and the activities associated with the intergovernmental relations found in the homeland security arena. In the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the government of the United States launched one of the largest reorganization efforts since the passing of the National Security Act of 1947. In a single piece of legislation, twenty-two separate organizations were brought together to form the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As with any new organization, the growth, maturity, and evolution of the department have been anything but smooth. Nonetheless, the Department was charged with preventing, protecting against, responding to, and recovering from acts of terrorism visited on the United States and its citizens. 1 The department, only three years old, has been challenged on a number of fronts, not the least of which has been the development of a national preparedness system. National preparedness, as outlined in Homeland Security Presidential Directive-8 (HSPD-8), is to be enhanced through a series of policies that will allow federal, state, local, and tribal governments to collectively and comprehensively address catastrophic events, especially those that are the result of acts of terrorism. 2 Thus, HSPD-8 has been a foundation document, spawning a series of other directives, guidelines and reference documents focused on developing a national preparedness system. As identified by Keith Bea of the Congressional Research Service, the key references for homeland security national preparedness are: 3

* The National Planning Scenarios, 2004;

* The National Response Plan (NRP), 2004;

* The National Incident Management System (NIMS), 2004;

* The Universal Task List (UTL), 2005;

* The Interim National Preparedness Goal (The Goal), 2005;

* The Target Capabilities List (TCL), 2005.

A broader context for homeland security national preparedness is provided through:

* The National Homeland Security Strategy; 4

* Homeland Security Presidential Directive-5, Management of Domestic Incidents (HSPD-5); 5

* The transcript of a speech given by then-Secretary Tom Ridge to the National Association of Counties in March of 2004.

In Secretary Ridge's speech, and in each of these documents, specific reference is made to federalism as the guiding principle in meeting the national demand for preparedness or to the need for extensive coordination with state and local governments to arrive at the best possible levels of preparedness for the nation.

Though HSPD-8 was issued in late 2003, only during the summer of 2005 was the complete list of documents finally available for review and comment. Subsequently, though the public policy development process was begun in early 2004, only with the issuance of the National Preparedness Goal did the process begin in earnest.

After first becoming involved in research related to homeland security in 2003, I became immersed in the policy arena in the spring of 2004. 6 In order to fully prepare for advising both clients and employers on policy matters for homeland security, I examined foundational documents issued by the national government and the nascent academic literature related to the topic. What became immediately apparent was the fact that, for the first time in decades, the nation's essential philosophy of government needed to be reexamined. …

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