First Homeland Security Review Garners Little Interest

By Stew Magnuson
The Department of Homeland Security released its first Quadrennial Homeland Security Review in February after two years of work to produce the 108-page document.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano in a YouTube video last July called it a “top priority in 2009” and its preface stated that it “comes amid much expectation and interest.”

Yet on the day of its release, there were no announcements from DHS public affairs.

Appearing on “budget day,” Feb. 1., and released a month past its congressionally mandated deadline, its arrival was all but ignored by the mainstream media.

It is unclassified and available for all to read, but it takes some searching to find it on the DHS website. (It can be found on the 2011 budget page.) Two press releases came from outside the department. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, lauded the arrival of the document. No such acknowledgment came from his Senate counterpart, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. The National Academy of Public Administration, which coordinated feedback from the public as the QHSR was being written, also sent out a notice to those who participated.

DHS Spokeswoman Amy Kudwa could not provide comment on why DHS public affairs did not publicize its release.

Finding headlines may have been tough for reporters. The report stressed that it was not a “resource prioritization document,” nor did it seek to spell out the roles and responsibilities of federal or other institutions for each mission area, or what new technologies the department may pursue.

There might be more interest in a “bottom up” review that will look at the alignment of DHS programs with mission sets and goals. That process began in November and its results are due the first quarter of this year, the QHSR said.

One of the few to take note of the document was Rick Nelson, a senior fellow and director of the Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

There were a couple of interesting points, he noted on a blog. One was the DHS seems committed to helping state and local first responders and government improve their resiliency in the event of a catastrophe. Another was renewed support for fusion centers.

“These entities emerged after 9/11; their aim is to increase cooperation among local and federal law enforcement and intelligence officials on issues like domestic terrorism,” he wrote.

“While the ultimate importance of the QHSR may be called into question, there can be no doubt that such long-term planning efforts, which seek to set forth a vision and align resources, are critical to establishing a viable and effective homeland security apparatus,” he added.

Topics: Homeland Security, DHS Budget, DHS Leadership, DHS Policy

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