U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

The US Department of Homeland Security was formed in the wake of the 911 terrorist attacks with the sole purpose of keeping America safe from any terrorist threat internal or otherwise. It consists of various directorates and agencies which are discussed hereunder. Its structure and operations are also discussed.

Managing Homeland Security
The importance of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cannot be downplayed. Its importance is confirmed by the number of employees it has, in the excess of 230,000, and its expansive budget which is in excess of 50 billion. In a nut shell its activities includes among others protection of high profile government officials, domestic nuclear detection and most importantly intelligence coordination.

Department of homeland security has four major directorates namely Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate, Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate, Science and Technology Directorate and Border and Transportation Security Directorate.

The Border and Transportation Security Directorate are charged with the responsibility of securing transportation operations and all border points. It consists of the following agencies The U.S. Customs Service (Treasury), The Transportation Security Administration (Transportation),Office for Domestic Preparedness (Justice), The Immigration and Naturalization Service (part) (Justice) ,Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (part)(Agriculture), Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (Treasury) and The Federal Protective Service (GSA). The Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate on the other hand coordinate response towards disasters by the government while at the same time undertaking disaster preparedness training and general disaster preparedness. It has under it the Strategic National Stockpile and the National Disaster Medical System, Nuclear Incident Response Team (Energy), National Domestic Preparedness Office (FBI), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Domestic Emergency Support Teams (Justice).

Science and Technology Directorate which basically seeks to secure homeland by employing technological and scientific  know-how houses CBRN Countermeasures Programs (Energy),National BW Defense Analysis Center (Defense) ,Environmental Measurements Laboratory (Energy) and last but not least Plum Island Animal Disease Center (Agriculture).

The Information Analysis  Infrastructure Protection Directorate is charged with the mandate of analyzing all information and intelligence from all other agencies and further evaluating any threats that may be facing homeland security, particularly so the infrastructure involved. It houses the following agencies National Communications System (Defense),Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office (Commerce),National Infrastructure Protection Center (FBI) ,Federal Computer Incident Response Center (GSA) and the Energy Security and Assurance Program (Energy)

This department was created with the mission of developing and coordinating the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to secure the United States from threats or even attacks from terrorists. It should be noted that the Department for Homeland Security is headed by the secretary of Homeland Security who is assisted by a deputy secretary.

The organizational structure of the department is summarized by the following chart.

This chart portrays the Department as logically organized since unity of direction and command is evident. This facilitates timely and coordinated horizontal and vertical communication between the various directorates and their constituent agencies.

While creating the DHS, there were agencies which have functions highly related to those of the department that were not included. Take for example the Federal Bureau of Investigation which could be helpful in collecting intelligence. Other agencies which were not included are National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency.

There are some independent agencies that did not exist as such before the establishment of the DHS. These includes the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services which helps in easing the conversion of immigrants to US citizenship, the Office of Inspector General, the Office of Private Sector Liaison and the Office of State and Local Government Coordination.

Since inception six years ago, the department has been subjected to criticisms over the waste, ineffectiveness and bureaucracy .To support this the Congress estimated that as of September 2003, the department had wasted about 15 billion in unsuccessful contracts. In line wit this, the department is bringing together 35 locations in a bid to enjoy the economies of scale which would be achieved through wide-ranging effectiveness and efficiency initiatives.

The department seeks to streamline operations which are evidenced by its launch of the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, the first of its kind, which will enhance inter-component analysis and communication as well as strategies that unify the departments policy making.

To achieve reforms and transparency, Secretary Napolitano launched has emphasized that all department employees should operate with the highest possible ethical standards and thus should receive a personal and comprehensive ethics briefing by the chief ethics officer when joining the department.

The current structure is by far superior to older organizational versions in its ability to efficiently identify, mitigate, prepare, respond, and recover from threats to US national security domestically and internationally since resources are better managed ,duplication has been eliminated ,costs has been trimmed and most importantly operations has been streamlined.


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