By setting the Department of Homeland security, the U. S. government integrated over 40 federal agencies and about 2,000 separate units into a single entity in charge of the national security. The need for creating a comprehensive multi-layer, yet single security institution was raised in February 2001 by the report of the U. S. Commission on National Security. In its appeal, the Commission recommended complex institutional and procedural modifications across legislative and executive branches to strengthen the security framework and the readiness for future security challenges.
According to the February report, a new consolidated agency was expected to refine separate missions of multiple agencies and departments into an integrated security strategy. On that ground, a bill proposing creation of a National Homeland Security Agency responsible for the border control, customs, FEMA, and other security-related issues was introduced to the Congress in March 2001. Despite the held hearings, the Congress did not pass the bill. Terrorist attacks of September 11th boosted the process of national security institutionalization and consolidation with the September 22nd announcement by President Bush about the establishment of an Office of Homeland Security. The Office was to manage, oversee, and coordinate a sophisticated national security strategy to enable adequate response to any future attacks while safeguarding the nation against terrorism (Homeland Security, 2008).
That massive consolidation of distinct departments and agencies was one of the largest restructuring of the federal government in the U. S. history. Although that bureaucratic reorganization was a typical government’s response to a national-level disaster, the integration of disparate departments and units into a single institution aligned executive and legislative procedures, thereby creating a common ground for unified response to security threats. Since 9/11, Homeland Security has continuingly declared commitment to terrorism prevention and security enhancement as underlying principles of its function and actions. In the evaluation of its performance, the Department underlines the progress made in safeguarding basic human rights while building a strong foundation for protecting Americans against terrorism and other security threats.
In this respect, the Department has established numerous fusion centers acting in compliance with the national initiative for early detection and reporting of suspicious activity. Security concerns have informed procedures for better passenger screening and terrorist travel preventing. Substantial budgets are annually allocated to building new and maintaining the existing security measures designated for strengthening security of surface transportation. A bunch of efforts has been dedicated to enhancing global security framework and protecting critical elements of national infrastructure. Detection of nuclear, radiological, and biological threats is another aspect of the Homeland Security’s mandate (Homeland Security, 2017).
Contrary to optimistic statements of the Department about improvements achieved in safeguarding national security, critics argue that the United States remain poorly prepared to security challenges. Thus, the broad mandate of the Department that encompasses numerous agencies and departments related to citizenship and immigration issues, emergency management, nuclear detection, law enforcement, customs, cyber security, secret service, and transportation security causes inter- and intra-agency conflicts of a continual nature. This patchwork of bureaucracy challenges different security processes, including intelligence gathering, analytics, and response design. Instead of the expected coordination and cooperation, agencies dealing under the Department of Homeland Security mandate compete for federal funding and status (Kahn, 2009). Apart from internal tensions occurred between different Homeland Security parts, the Department’s performance is affected by collisions with other departmental entities in terms of cyber security, emergency response, etc. Therefore, the establishment of Homeland Security was a rational and reasonable decision in the realm of the rising terrorist threat to national and global security. However, the Department’s oversight of national borders, infrastructure, commerce, ports, transportation, and hazardous materials lacks the desired efficiency.
Homeland Security. (2017). Preventing terrorism and enhancing security. Retrieved from https://www.dhs.gov/preventing-terrorism-and-enhancing-security
Homeland Security. (2008). Brief documentary history of the Department of Homeland Security, 2001-2008. Washington, DC: Department of Homeland Security.
Kahn, L. H. (2009). The problems with the Department of Homeland Security. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Retrieved from http://thebulletin.org/problems-department-homeland-security