Academic journal article Homeland Security Affairs

Findings from the Forum on Homeland Security after the Bush Administration: Next Steps in Building Unity of Effort

Academic journal article Homeland Security Affairs

Findings from the Forum on Homeland Security after the Bush Administration: Next Steps in Building Unity of Effort

Article excerpt

Center for International Security and Cooperation

Stanford University

12 February 2008

Homeland security remains a house divided. Within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a weak, understaffed system exists to guide and integrate its twenty-two agencies, leaving them to work at cross-purposes rather than as a unified team. The collaborative relationship between DHS and its state and local partners is also in urgent need of repair. On an issue-by-issue, month-to-month basis, the effectiveness of their cooperation swings from excellent to disastrous. Government efforts to impose regulations on the private sector pose still deeper problems for building collaboration in homeland security.

These problems can be solved. Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) convened a forum of government and private sector leaders in homeland security to propose specific, practical steps that the next administration can take to strengthen collaboration in homeland security. This report summarizes their recommendations and proposes a number of structural changes within DHS to provide for better integration across agency lines and to help overcome the agency "stovepiping" that has plagued DHS since its inception. This report also examines how the next administration can restructure DHS to transform state and local collaboration into a sustained, department-wide priority.

Opportunities to strengthen collaboration between government and the private sector are especially promising. DHS has developed a new "sector partnership" model for collaboration in infrastructure protection that should be applied far more broadly. Rather than bringing private companies into the development of industry regulations at the back end of the process, when DHS officials had already made key decisions, the DHS sector partnership model begins that dialogue early so that consensus building proceeds from the outset. The next administration should adapt this model to strengthen collaborative planning, not only with the private sector but also with states and localities in a sustained and institutionalized way.

Section one of this report examines why the Bush administration has found it so difficult to build unity of effort: that is, coordination and cooperation by the disparate partners in homeland security to accomplish mutually agreed objectives. Section two summarizes how the Stanford forum participants assessed the current level of unity of effort within DHS and proposes additional steps for the next administration to pursue. Section three examines lessons learned from the Department of Defense (DOD) to strengthen unity of effort in homeland defense and security. Section four addresses unity of effort problems and solutions for states and localities. Section five focuses on private sector issues. Section six offers additional recommendations to restructure the homeland security system.

I. What Is Unity of Effort, and Why Should We Want It?

Participants agreed that a defining feature of the homeland security system is the lack of hierarchy between its components. As one participant put it: "Governors don't work for the president, and mayors really, really don't work for governors." Successful strategies to build unity of effort across levels of government, and between government and the private sector, must take this absence of hierarchy into account. It would be especially mistaken to replicate the top-down, command-style approach to unity of effort that characterizes the Department of Defense (DOD). DOD is strongly hierarchical, in that everyone ultimately reports to the president in his capacity as commander in chief. The realm of homeland security is far less hierarchical, not only in the independently-elected status of governors and mayors as the chief executives within their jurisdictions, but also in the critical role played by private companies (which report to their shareholders). …

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