The United States Department of Homeland Security
), commonly known in the United States as "Homeland Security", is a Cabinet
department of the U.S. federal government
with the responsibility of protecting the territory of the U.S. from terrorist
attacks and responding to natural disasters
Whereas the Department of Defense is charged with military actions abroad, the Department of Homeland Security works in the civilian sphere to protect the United States within, at, and outside its borders. Its goal is to prepare for, prevent, and respond to domestic emergencies, particularly terrorism. On March 1, 2003, DHS absorbed the now defunct United States Immigration and Naturalization Service and assumed its duties. In doing so, it divided the enforcement and services functions into two separate and new agencies – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Additionally, the border enforcement functions of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the U.S. Customs Service, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) were consolidated into a new agency under DHS: U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The United States Federal Protective Service falls under Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE).
With over 200,000 employees, DHS is the third largest Cabinet department in the U.S. federal government, after the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs. Homeland security policy is coordinated at the White House by the Homeland Security Council. Other agencies with significant homeland security responsibilities include the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Energy.
The creation of DHS constitutes the biggest reorganization of U.S. government in American history and the most substantial reorganization of federal government agencies since the National Security Act of 1947, which placed the different military departments under a secretary of defense and created the National Security Council and Central Intelligence Agency. DHS also constitutes the most diverse merger of federal functions and responsibilities, incorporating 22 government agencies into a single organization.
In response to the September 11, 2001 attacks, President George W. Bush announced the establishment of the Office of Homeland Security (OHS) to coordinate "homeland security" efforts. The office was headed by former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, who assumed the title of Assistant to the President for Homeland Security. The official announcement stated:
- The mission of the Office will be to develop and coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks. The Office will coordinate the executive branch's efforts to detect, prepare for, prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks within the United States.
Ridge began his duties as OHS director on October 8, 2001.
On March 12, 2002, the Homeland Security Advisory System, a color-coded terrorism risk advisory scale, was created as the result of a Presidential Directive to provide a "comprehensive and effective means to disseminate information regarding the risk of terrorist acts to Federal, State, and local authorities and to the American people." Many procedures at government facilities are tied in to the alert level; for example a facility may search all entering vehicles when the alert is above a certain level. Since January 2003, it has been administered in coordination with DHS; it has also been the target of frequent jokes and ridicule on the part of the administration's detractors about its ineffectiveness. After resigning, Tom Ridge stated that he didn't always agree with the threat level adjustments pushed by other government agencies.
In January 2003, the office was merged into the Department of Homeland Security and the White House Homeland Security Council, both of which were created by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The Homeland Security Council, similar in nature to the National Security Council, retains a policy coordination and advisory role and is led by the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security.
Creation of DHS
The department was established on November 25, 2002, by the Homeland Security Act
of 2002. It was intended to consolidate U.S. executive branch organizations related to "homeland security
" into a single Cabinet agency. The following 22 agencies were incorporated into the new department:
Prior to the signing of the bill, controversy about its adoption centered on whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency should be incorporated in part or in whole (neither were included). The bill itself was also controversial for the presence of unrelated "riders", as well as for eliminating certain union-friendly civil service and labor protections for department employees. Without these protections, employees could be expeditiously reassigned or dismissed on grounds of security, incompetence or insubordination, and DHS would not be required to notify their union representatives.
The plan would strip 180,000 government employees of their union rights. In the summer of 2002 Bush officials argued that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 made the proposed elimination of employee protections imperative.
Congress ultimately passed the Homeland Security Act of 2002 without the union-friendly measures and President Bush signed the bill into law on November 25, 2002. It was the largest U.S. government reorganization in the 50 years since the United States Department of Defense was created.
Tom Ridge was named secretary on January 24, 2003 and began naming his chief deputies. DHS officially began operations on January 24, 2003, but most of the department's component agencies were not transferred into the new Department until March 1.
After establishing the basic structure of DHS and working to integrate its components and get the department functioning, Ridge announced his resignation on November 30, 2004, following the re-election of President Bush. Bush initially nominated former New York City Police Department commissioner Bernard Kerik as his successor, but on December 10, Kerik withdrew his nomination, citing personal reasons and saying it "would not be in the best interests" of the country for him to pursue the post. On January 11, 2005, President Bush nominated federal judge Michael Chertoff to succeed Ridge. Chertoff was confirmed on February 15, 2005, by a vote of 98–0 in the U.S. Senate. He was sworn in the same day.
In February 2005 DHS and the Office of Personnel Management issued rules, which related to employee pay and discipline, for a new personnel system named MaxHR. The Washington Post said that the rules would allow DHS "to override any provision in a union contract by issuing a department-wide directive" and that they would make it "difficult, if not impossible, for unions to negotiate over arrangements for staffing, deployments, technology and other workplace matters."
In August 2005 U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer blocked the plan on the grounds that it did not ensure collective-bargaining rights for Homeland Security employees.
A federal appeals court ruled against DHS in 2006, and pending a final resolution to the litigation the United States Congress’ fiscal 2008 appropriations bill for DHS provided no funding for the proposed new personnel system.
DHS announced in early 2007 that it was retooling its pay and performance system and retiring the name "MaxHR".
In a February 2008 court filing DHS said that it would no longer pursue the new rules, and that it would abide by the existing civil service labor-management procedures. A federal court issued an order closing the case.
- The Office of the Secretary oversees activities with other federal, state, local, and private entities as part of a collaborative effort to strengthen our borders, provide for intelligence analysis and infrastructure protection, improve the use of science and technology to counter weapons of mass destruction, and to create a comprehensive response and recovery system. The Office of the Secretary includes multiple offices that contribute to the overall Homeland Security mission.
- The Privacy Office works to minimize the impact on the individual’s privacy, particularly the individual’s personal information and dignity, while achieving the mission of the Department of Homeland Security.
- The office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties provides legal and policy advice to Department leadership on civil rights and civil liberties issues, investigates and resolves complaints, and provides leadership to Equal Employment Opportunity Programs.
- The Office of Inspector General is responsible for conducting and supervising audits, investigations, and inspections relating to the programs and operations of the Department, recommending ways for the Department to carry out its responsibilities in the most effective, efficient, and economical manner possible.
- The Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman provides recommendations for resolving individual and employer problems with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in order to ensure national security and the integrity of the legal immigration system, increase efficiencies in administering citizenship and immigration services, and improve customer service.
- The Office of Legislative Affairs serves as primary liaison to members of Congress and their staffs, the White House and Executive Branch, and to other federal agencies and governmental entities that have roles in assuring national security.
- The Office of the General Counsel integrates approximately 1700 lawyers from throughout the Department into an effective, client-oriented, full-service legal team and comprises a headquarters office with subsidiary divisions and the legal programs for eight Department components.
- The Office of Public Affairs coordinates the public affairs activities of all of the Department’s components and offices, and serves as the federal government’s lead public information office during a national emergency or disaster. Led by the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, it comprises the press office, incident and strategic communications, speechwriting, Web content management, employee communications, and the Department’s Ready campaign.
- Office of Counternarcotics Enforcement
- The Office of the Executive Secretariat (ESEC) provides all manner of direct support to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary, as well as related support to leadership and management across the Department. This support takes many forms, the most well known being accurate and timely dissemination of information and written communications from throughout the Department and our homeland security partners to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary.
- Military Advisor's Office
- The Directorate for National Protection and Programs works to advance the Department's risk-reduction mission. Reducing risk requires an integrated approach that encompasses both physical and virtual threats and their associated human elements.
- The Directorate for Science and Technology is the primary research and development arm of the Department. It provides federal, state and local officials with the technology and capabilities to protect the homeland.
- The Directorate for Management is responsible for Department budgets and appropriations, expenditure of funds, accounting and finance, procurement; human resources, information technology systems, facilities and equipment, and the identification and tracking of performance measurements.
- Chief Administrative Services Officer
- Chief Financial Officer
- Program Analysis and Evaluation
- Financial Management
- Resource Management Transformation
- Budget Division
- Chief Human Capital Officer
- Chief Information Officer
- Chief Procurement Officer
- Chief Security Officer
- The Office of Policy is the primary policy formulation and coordination component for the Department of Homeland Security. It provides a centralized, coordinated focus to the development of Department-wide, long-range planning to protect the United States.
- The Office of Health Affairs coordinates all medical activities of the Department of Homeland Security to ensure appropriate preparation for and response to incidents having medical significance.
- The Office of Intelligence and Analysis is responsible for using information and intelligence from multiple sources to identify and assess current and future threats to the United States.
- The Office of Operations Coordination is responsible for monitoring the security of the United States on a daily basis and coordinating activities within the Department and with governors, Homeland Security Advisors, law enforcement partners, and critical infrastructure operators in all 50 states and more than 50 major urban areas nationwide.
- The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center provides career-long training to law enforcement professionals to help them fulfill their responsibilities safely and proficiently.
- The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office works to enhance the nuclear detection efforts of federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local governments, and the private sector and to ensure a coordinated response to such threats.
- The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) protects the nation's transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.
- United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for protecting our nation’s borders in order to prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel.
- United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is responsible for the administration of immigration and naturalization adjudication functions and establishing immigration services policies and priorities.
- United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for identifying and shutting down vulnerabilities in the nation’s border, economic, transportation and infrastructure security.
- The United States Coast Guard protects the public, the environment, and U.S. economic interests—in the nation’s ports and waterways, along the coast, on international waters, or in any maritime region as required to support national security.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) prepares the nation for hazards, manages Federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, and administers the National Flood Insurance Program.
- The United States Secret Service protects the President and other high-level officials and investigates counterfeiting and other financial crimes, including financial institution fraud, identity theft, computer fraud; and computer-based attacks on our nation’s financial, banking, and telecommunications infrastructure.
The Seal of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
A DHS press release dated June 6, 2003 explains the seal as follows:
The seal is symbolic of the Department's mission - to prevent attacks and protect Americans - on the land, in the sea and in the air. In the center of the seal, a graphically styled white American eagle appears in a circular blue field. The eagle's outstretched wings break through an inner red ring into an outer white ring that contains the words "U.S. DEPARTMENT OF" in the top half and "HOMELAND SECURITY" in the bottom half in a circular placement. The eagle's wings break through the inner circle into the outer ring to suggest that the Department of Homeland Security will break through traditional bureaucracy and perform government functions differently. In the tradition of the Great Seal of the United States, the eagle's talon on the left holds an olive branch with 13 leaves and 13 seeds while the eagle's talon on the right grasps 13 arrows.
Centered on the eagle's breast is a shield divided into three sections containing elements that represent the American homeland - air, land, and sea. The top element, a dark blue sky, contains 22 stars representing the original 22 entities that have come together to form the department. The left shield element contains white mountains behind a green plain underneath a light blue sky. The right shield element contains four wave shapes representing the oceans alternating light and dark blue separated by white lines.
The seal was developed with input from DHS senior leadership, employees, and the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts. The Ad Council, which currently partners with DHS on its Ready campaign, and the consulting company Landor Associates were responsible for graphic design and maintaining heraldic integrity.
Since its inception, the Department has had its temporary headquarters in Washington, D.C.'s Nebraska Avenue Complex, a former naval facility. The 38 acre site has 32 buildings comprising of of administrative space. In early 2007, the Department submitted a $4.1 billion plan to Congress to consolidate its 60-plus Washington-area offices into a single headquarters complex at the St. Elizabeths Hospital
campus in Southeast Washington. The earliest DHS would begin moving to St. Elizabeths is 2012.
The move is being championed by District of Columbia officials because of the positive economic impact it will have on historically depressed Southeast Washington, which is also the venue for the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium, which opened in 2008. The move has been criticized by historic preservationists, who claim the revitalization plans will destroy dozens of historic buildings on the campus. Community activists have criticized the plans because the facility will remain walled off and have little interaction with the surrounding area.
Soon after the formation of Department of Homeland Security, the Martin Agency of Richmond, Virginia worked pro bono to create " Ready.gov", a readiness website. The site and materials were conceived in March 2002 and launched in February 2003, just before the launch of the Iraq War. One of the first announcements that garnered widespread public attention to this campaign was one by Tom Ridge in which he stated that in the case of a chemical attack, citizens should use duct tape and plastic sheeting to build a homemade bunker, or "sheltering in place" to protect themselves. As a result, the sales of duct tape skyrocketed and DHS was criticized for being too alarmist.
The site was promoted with banner ads containing automatic audio components on commercial web sites.
National Incident Management System
On March 1, 2004, the National Incident Management System (NIMS) was created. The stated purpose was to provide a consistent incident management approach for federal, state, local, and tribal governments. Under Homeland Security Presidential Directive-5, all federal departments were required to adopt the NIMS and to use it in their individual domestic incident management and emergency prevention, preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation program and activities.
National Response Framework
In December 2004, the National Response Plan
(NRP) was created, in an attempt to align federal coordination structures, capabilities, and resources into a unified, all-discipline, and all-hazards approach to domestic incident management. The NRP was built on the template of the NIMS.
On January 22, 2008, the National Response Framework was published in the Federal Register as an updated replacement of the NRP, effective March 22, 2008.
The DHS National Cyber Security Division
(NCSD) is responsible for the response system, risk management program, and requirements for cyber-security in the U.S. The division is home to US-CERT
operations and the National Cyber Alert System
. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate helps government and private end-users transition to new cyber-security capabilities. This directorate also funds the Cyber Security Research and Development Center, which identifies and prioritizes research and development for NCSD. The center works on the Internet's routing infrastructure (the SPRI program) and Domain Name System (DNSSEC
), identity theft and other online criminal activity (ITTC), Internet traffic and networks research (PREDICT datasets and the DETER testbed), Department of Defense and HSARPA
exercises (Livewire and Determined Promise), and wireless security in cooperation with Canada.
Excess, waste, and ineffectiveness
The Department of Homeland Security has been dogged by persistent criticism over excessive bureaucracy
, waste, and ineffectiveness. The United States Congress estimates that the department has wasted roughly $15 billion in failed contracts, as of September 2008. In 2003, the department came under fire after the media revealed that Laura Callahan
, Deputy Chief Information Officer
at DHS with responsibilities for sensitive national security databases, had obtained her advanced computer science
degrees through a diploma mill
in a small town in Wyoming
. The department was blamed for up to $2 billion of waste and fraud after audits by the Government Accountability Office
revealed widespread misuse of government credit cards by DHS employees, with purchases including beer brewing kits, $70,000 of plastic dog booties that were later deemed unusable, boats purchased at double the retail price (many of which later could not be found), and iPods
ostensibly for use in "data storage".
Data Mining (ADVISE)
The Associated Press
reported on September 5, 2007, that DHS had scrapped an anti-terrorism data mining
tool called ADVISE
(Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight and Semantic Enhancement) after the agency's internal Inspector General
found that pilot
testing of the system had been performed using data on real people without required privacy
safeguards in place. The system, in development at Lawrence Livermore
and Pacific Northwest national laboratories since 2003, has cost the agency $42 million to date. Controversy over the program is not new; in March 2007, the Government Accountability Office
stated that "the ADVISE tool could misidentify or erroneously associate an individual with undesirable activity such as fraud
, crime or terrorism." Homeland Security's Inspector General later said that ADVISE was poorly planned, time-consuming for analysts to use, and lacked adequate justifications.
In July 2006, the Office of Personnel Management
conducted a survey of federal employees in all 36 federal agencies on job satisfaction and how they felt their respective agency was headed. DHS was last or near to last in every category including;
- 33rd on the talent management index
- 35th on the leadership and knowledge management index
- 36th on the job satisfaction index
- 36th on the results-oriented performance culture index
The low scores were attributed to major concerns about basic supervision, management and leadership within the agency. Examples from the survey reveal most concerns are about promotion and pay increase based on merit, dealing with poor performance, rewarding creativity and innovation, leadership generating high levels of motivation in the workforce, recognition for doing a good job, lack of satisfaction with various component policies and procedures and lack of information about what is going on with the organization.