The events of recent weeks demonstrate clearly that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) needs a new business model that will allow it to address better the complex demands of its mission. Many of the Department’s policies and procedures were put in place in the chaotic months after 9/11, before a homeland security strategy or national response plan were in place. The Department desperately needs an appropriate business process that reflects its evolving strategy and requirements.
Secretary Chertoff recently announced his planned reforms of DHS, including the addition of a policy management function in the executive leadership, a renewed emphasis on domestic nuclear detection, and improvements to the Department’s internal coordination. Many of these changes are necessary and deserve immediate implementation, but alone they are insufficient. They do not adequately empower the Secretary to direct DHS, nor do they sufficiently address the systemic cultural changes required to achieve better security and emergency response. The lesson of hurricane Katrina is that without adequate command and control it will be impossible to provide security for the homeland.
In particular, Secretary Chertoff should add three reforms to his list:
1) Combine Strategy and Budget Planning: Budget oversight and planning should be part of the policy function to ensure coordinated implementation and development of DHS prerogatives. The Policy Secretariat’s first task should be to design and implement a rational, clearly defined business process cycle aligning the Department’s strategy, requirements, budget and acquisition. By joining strategy and budget planning together, DHS could more effectively shift priorities from legacy mission areas into new homeland security initiatives while improving interactions with external stakeholders.
2) Formalize Requirements Oversight: The requirements definition and oversight process should be formalized across the Department. Such a process would clarify priority procurement areas and associated timelines, stabilize funding for essential missions, and enable the private sector to develop more appropriate solutions.
3) Streamline Acquisition (and Research & Development) Processes: Acquisition and R&D processes should be reorganized to be more transparent to both Congress and industry. DHS should also adopt measures to support rapid acquisition and fielding of critical capabilities. The Under Secretary for Preparedness should implement processes to support greater procurement standardization across the states. In this regard, DHS should leverage its relationship with the National Guard Bureau and support strengthening the role of state Adjutant Generals.
J. Michael Barrett wrote the initial draft of this report. All members of the Working Group had an opportunity to review and modify the final report.
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