Homeland Security: A Challenging Environment; the Meaning of Homeland Security, Its Intent, and the Key Issues Officials Will Encounter in Addressing Its Policy and Management Challenges. (Article)

By Caudle, Sharon | The Public Manager, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

Homeland Security: A Challenging Environment; the Meaning of Homeland Security, Its Intent, and the Key Issues Officials Will Encounter in Addressing Its Policy and Management Challenges. (Article)


Caudle, Sharon, The Public Manager


Officials at all levels of government with responsibility for homeland security since the September 11 terrorist attacks have been busy crafting de tailed homeland security goals and objectives, strategies to meet those expectations, key milestones to track implementation status, integrated business processes across organizations responsible for homeland security, and cost and performance data to gauge overall progress in addressing homeland security efforts. But what is homeland security? What is it intended to achieve? What are the key issues and challenges officials will encounter in addressing homeland security? This article briefly addresses these central questions.

Starting the Dialogue: The National Strategy for Homeland Security

A good starting point for understanding homeland security is the July 2002 Office of Homeland Security's National Strategy for Homeland Security. The National Strategy defines homeland security in terms of three strategic objectives:

* a national, not federal, effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States;

* reduce the nation's vulnerability to terrorism; and

* minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur.

These strategic objectives have related critical mission areas shown in Table 1. It is at the mission area that the National Strategy frames major homeland security performance expectations.

The National Strategy also describes four foundations--law, science and technology, information sharing and systems, and international cooperation--that cut across the mission areas, all levels of government, and all sectors of society. For example, the law component is intended to utilize federal laws to win the war on terrorism while protecting civil liberties and strengthening state codes to protect public welfare.

The recently-enacted Homeland Security Act (P.L. 107296) structures the federal organization, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), for implementing the National Strategy through federal efforts and the marshaling of state, local, and private initiatives. In his written testimony for his confirmation hearing, now DHS Secretary Ridge said that he would keep DHS focused on all six of its critical missions outlined in the National Strategy.

The National Strategy identifies a wide range of initiatives to achieve the mission and foundation areas. For example, some initiatives build capabilities, such as initiatives to enhance the analytical capabilities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or build a national training and evaluation system. Some build accountability, such as ensuring accountability in border and transportation security or completing FBI restructuring to emphasize prevention of terrorist attacks. Some encourage the adoption of techniques and tools, such as initiatives to employ "red team" techniques or harnessing analytic and modeling tools. Some describe the continuation of ongoing processes or enhancing systems, such as continuing ongoing investigations and prosecutions or streamlining information sharing among intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Some describe program implementation initiatives, such as implementing the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. Some stress homeland security outcomes, such as creati ng "smart borders" or tracking foreign terrorists and bringing them to justice.

Policy and Management Challenges

Implementing and sustaining the initiatives and achieving the National Strategy's strategic objectives and mission areas will face many policy and management challenges. These can be roughly categorized in several major themes--threat and risk management; performance goals and measures; multiple organizational relationships, roles, and capabilities; resource decision making; and government security action and constraints.

Threat and Risk Management

First, managers will find it difficult to anticipate and estimate the future character, probability, and impact of terrorist attacks. …

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