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A "Joint" Department of Homeland Security?

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Research paper

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While the Department of Homeland Security DHS has in its first decade largely integrated the business of the 22 original agencies that came together in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, there remains much work to be done. The Department of Defense DoD experienced a similar effort over its first 39 years until the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 codified the concept of a joint military force. While the DHS benefits in some ways from the application of joint concepts, in others integration could be improved. This research project presents primers on the establishment of the DHS and the Goldwater-Nichols Act. Three joint concepts are then overlaid on the DHS construct department organization, capabilities, and administration. For each, examples or emphasis points are provided to illustrate and provide support to the discussion of integration for organization -- command and control during Hurricane Katrina for capabilities -- interagency acquisitions for administration -- personnel education and Congressional oversight. The results of this research show that DHS organization and command and control should be guided by unity of effort through multi-agency coordination. Unity of command via a DoD-like joint approach to the departments capabilities and administration is best. Specific recommendations include the following allowing the improvements enacted by the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reorganization Act to take hold, use of the DoD as a model for acquisition system improvements, striving to copy the DoDs JPME model, and reduction to fewer focused Congressional oversight committees parallel to the DoDs six core committees. The DHS is not yet 10 years old and, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, has already undertaken one reorganization. Improvements in the areas featured here can begin immediately and dont require legislative direction to make an important difference in our homeland security.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law
  • Civil Defense
  • Command, Control and Communications Systems

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