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The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a Cabinet department of the United Statesmarker federal government with the primary responsibilities of protecting the territory of the U.S. from terrorist attacks and responding to natural disasters.

Whereas the Department of Defensemarker 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 stated goal is to prepare for, prevent, and respond to domestic emergencies, particularly terrorism. On March 1, 2003, DHS absorbed the Immigration and Naturalization Service and assumed its duties. In doing so, it divided the enforcement and services functions into two separate and new agencies: Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Citizenship and Immigration Services. Additionally, the border enforcement functions of the INS, the U.S. Customs Service, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service were consolidated into a new agency under DHS: U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Federal Protective Service falls under the National Protection and Programs Directorate.

With more than 200,000 employees, DHS is the third largest Cabinet department, after the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairsmarker. Homeland security policy is coordinated at the White Housemarker by the Homeland Security Council. Other agencies with significant homeland security responsibilities include the Departments of Health and Human Services, Justicemarker, and Energy.

The creation of DHS constituted the biggest government reorganization in American history, and the most substantial reorganization of federal 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.

Structure

The Department of Homeland Security is headed by the Secretary of Homeland Security with the assistance of the Deputy Secretary. The Department contains the components listed below. Not all subcomponents are listed; see the linked articles for more details.

Agencies:

(Passports for U.S. Citizens are issued by the United States Department of Statemarker, not the Department of Homeland Security.)

Advisory groups:
  • Homeland Security Advisory Council – State and local government, first responders, private sector, and academics
  • National Infrastructure Advisory Council – Advises on security of public and private information systems
  • Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee – Advise the Under Secretary for Science and Technology.
  • Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council – Coordinate infrastructure protection with private sector and other levels of government
  • Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities
  • Task Force on New Americans – "An inter-agency effort to help immigrants learn English, embrace the common core of American civic culture, and become fully American."


Other components:

Nomenclature

In an August 5, 2002 speech, President Bush said: "We're fighting ... to secure freedom in the homeland." Prior to the creation of DHS, American presidents had referred to the U.S. as "the nation" or "the republic", and to its internal policies as "domestic". Also unprecedented was the use, from 2002, of the phrase "the homeland" by White House spokespeople. A number of commentators noted the similarity between the Bush administration's choice of the term homeland to the term Heimat, used by Nazi propagandists to refer to Germany beginning in the 1930s. The United Kingdom's wartime civil defense measures were the responsibility of a similarly named department called the Ministry of Home Security, which was in existence from 1939 to 1945.

Homeland Security Advisory System

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

In response to the September 11 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.

The Department of Homeland Security 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 Investigationmarker 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 stripped 180,000 government employees of their union rights. In 2002, Bush officials argued that the September 11 attacks 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 relating 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 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 DHS employees.

A federal appeals court ruled against DHS in 2006; pending a final resolution to the litigation, Congress's fiscal year 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.

Seal

Seal of the Department of Homeland Security.
A DHS press release dated June 6, 2003 explains the seal as follows:

The seal was developed with input from senior DHS leadership, employees, and the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts. The Ad Council – which partners with DHS on its Ready.gov campaign – and the consulting company Landor Associates were responsible for graphic design and maintaining heraldic integrity.

Headquarters

Since its inception, the department has had its temporary headquarters in Washington, D.C.'s Nebraska Avenue Complex, a former naval facility. The 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 Hospitalmarker campus in Anacostiamarker, Southeast Washington, D.C. 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 Anacostia. 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.On January 8, 2009, the National Capital Planning Commission approved the Department of Homeland Security’s plans to move into the campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital.

Ready.gov

Ready.gov program logo


Soon after the formation of Department of Homeland Security, the Martin Agency of Richmond, Virginiamarker 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.

Cyber-security

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.

On October 30, 2009, DHS opened the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center. The center brings together government organizations responsible for protecting computer networks and networked infrastructure.

Criticism

Excess, waste, and ineffectiveness

The Department of Homeland Security has been dogged by persistent criticism over excessive bureaucracy, waste, and ineffectiveness. Congress estimates that the department has wasted roughly $15 billion in failed contracts ( ). 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 Wyomingmarker. 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 Livermoremarker and Pacific Northwest National Laboratorymarker 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.

Employee morale

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.

See also



References

External links




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