Department of Homeland Security Recent 4-Year Anniversary Review
by Jim Kouri, CPP
The Department of Homeland Security's recent 4-year anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress DHS has made.
The creation of DHS was one of the largest federal reorganizations in the last several decades, and the Government Accountability Office has reported that it was an enormous management challenge and that the size, complexity, and importance of the effort made the challenge especially daunting and critical to the nation's security.
Prior work on mergers and acquisitions has found that successful transformations of large organizations, even those faced with less strenuous reorganizations than DHS, can take at least 5 to 7 years to achieve. This testimony is based on an August 2007 report evaluating DHS's progress since March 2003. Specifically, it addresses DHS's progress across 14 mission and management areas and key themes that have affected DHS's implementation efforts.
Since its establishment in March 2003, DHS has made varying levels of progress in implementing its mission and management areas, as shown in the following table.
In general, DHS has made more progress in its mission areas than in its management areas. Within its mission areas, DHS has made progress in developing plans and programs, but has faced challenges in its implementation efforts. Key underlying themes have affected DHS's implementation efforts.
These include strategies to achieve agency transformation, strategic planning and results management, risk management, information sharing, and partnerships and coordination.
For example, analysts have designated DHS's implementation and transformation as high-risk. While DHS has made progress in transforming its component agencies into a fully functioning department, it has not yet addressed elements of the transformation process, such as developing a comprehensive transformation strategy.
DHS also has not yet fully adopted and applied a risk management approach in implementing its mission and management functions. Some DHS component agencies have taken steps to do so, but this approach is not yet used departmentwide.
In addition, DHS has taken steps to share information and coordinate with homeland security partners but has faced difficulties in these partnership efforts. Given DHS's leading role in securing the homeland, it is critical that the department's mission and management programs operate as efficiently and effectively as possible. DHS has taken important actions to secure the border and transportation sectors and to prepare for and respond to disasters.
DHS has had to undertake these missions while also working to transform itself into a fully functioning cabinet department -- a difficult task for any organization.
As DHS moves forward, it will be important for the department to continue to develop more measurable goals to guide implementation efforts and to enable better accountability. It will also be important for DHS to continually reassess its mission and management goals, measures, and milestones to evaluate progress made, identify past and emerging obstacles, and examine alternatives to effectively address those obstacles.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.