House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency Hearing
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Chairman Duncan, Ranking Member Barber, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to testify at this hearing.
* First, onset of terrorism fatigue - When DHS celebrated its ten year anniversary, some questioned whether law enforcement and domestic security operations had become too focused on terrorism at the cost of addressing other public safety issues such as drug violence, public health, or crime.
* Second, persistence of terrorism as a real threat - The
* Third, increasing threats from natural disasters - The effects of Super Storm Sandy emphasized the consequences for coastal communities of the combined impacts of continued population growth and sea-level rise, and the need for incorporating planning for community and infrastructure resilience into economic development.
* Fourth, cyber threats outpacing cyber defense - Last month's indictment of five officers in the
* Fifth, increasingly constrained government budgets -Federal, state, local, and tribal governments have fewer resources to address this expanding list of concerns.
In short, when Secretary Johnson took the reins at DHS, he stepped into a deeply uncertain, utterly complex, and continuously dynamic environment with more constraints on the resources at his disposal. These converging trends, combined with new leadership and new guidance expected to arise from the QHSR, make now an opportune time for DHS to prioritize the Department's goals and assure its programs are best aligned to achieve them.
The first QHSR brought DHS together to develop a collective list of all missions for components across the Department. n3 Though comprehensive - the list spanned issues of terrorism, border control, immigration, cyberspace, disaster management, and governance - the first review did not set priorities.
The second QHSR will now set the stage for improving both the effectiveness and efficiency of DHS. The review includes a strategic assessment of the current and emerging homeland security threats, focused analysis on selected priority topics, and guidance on management priorities for the Department. I'd like to highlight three important ways
* First, improve the linkages between budgets of DHS's component agencies and strategic directions of the Department as a whole on risk management;
* Second, establish more effective oversight of programs once initiated;
* Third, seek ways to improve effectiveness and efficiency by leveraging
Improve linkages between budgets and strategic directions on risk management
The Homeland Security Strategic Environment Assessment marks a significant accomplishment for DHS and reflects well the trends that are changing the homeland security landscape. The review covers persistent threats to the nation from problems such as smuggling, illegal migration, and maritime safety. It also addresses catastrophic events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, pandemics, and terrorism. The strategic environment assessment describes all of these events in a common way, allowing for the first time an informed discussion of priorities based on risk.
Knowing the facts about homeland security risks is important because the public's fear of terrorism and disasters can be out of alignment with the risks the events pose. The unpredictability of terrorism, individuals' uncertainty about how to protect themselves, and the realization that attacks are purposeful and not random all contribute to increased fear about terrorism. n4 As an example of how fear can affect behavior,
Fear of terrorism matters. Numerous studies - many supported by the
When assessed side by side, there are many disasters, accidents and crimes that have historically threatened more lives, caused more economic damage, and led to more societal disruption than terrorism. When presented with this evidence, people with different and competing interests often can agree on what problems are most serious and make judgments that are consistent with what is known about risks. n6
The analysis behind the QHSR will provide a basis for this type of reasoned discussion of risk management priorities. Secretary Johnson has proposed new initiatives that will build on the current progress. Specifically, in a memorandum to DHS leadership in April, Secretary Johnson proposed three initiatives:
* First, a
* Second, the establishment of departmental management processes to review and implement processes to develop joint requirements for programs across DHS and improve oversight of programs once implemented.
* Third, the enhancement of headquarters strategy, planning, and analytic capability to build and maintain the organizations required to support the leadership and management initiatives being proposed. n7
Establish effective oversight of programs once initiated
DHS programs are notorious for lacking appropriate oversight. Several Government
Accountability Office (GAO) studies point out cases where effectiveness of DHS programs is either poor or undocumented, costs are uncontrolled, or oversight is lacking. While the Department has made progress and continues to remedy these situations, plenty of room for improvement remains.
A review by GAO in 2011 suggested that more than half of the 77 major acquisitions programs at DHS are over budget or behind schedule. n8 In
A RAND paper published last year, Reducing the Cost and Risk of Major Acquisitions at the
* Every major acquisition program should have an approved acquisition program baseline document defining milestones and requirements to which programs are held accountable for demonstrating their readiness before progressing to new phases.
* Decision-making authority, given to the
* Careful analysis of acquisition cost or schedule breaches should be conducted to help the department identify root causes for these failures and incorporate lessons to improve future acquisitions.
* The department should establish mechanisms for more professional development opportunities for DHS acquisition officials.
Seek ways to improve effectiveness and efficiency by leveraging DoD capabilities
Many DHS priorities require a whole-of-government approach.
* Disaster management and pandemic preparedness to improve community resilience requires cooperation among
* Border security requires coordination of federal and local law enforcement agencies across several bureaucratic and geographic jurisdictions to counter smuggling networks that span several continents.
* Cyber security must protect government and private systems from both state-sponsored and criminally aligned threat networks, potentially using capabilities that exist in several departments, while balancing dynamic norms for privacy.
At the same time DHS is deciding how best to address these challenges, the
Motivated by this synergy, RAND studies have identified several opportunities worth consideration:
* On-going DoD technology demonstration efforts could be leveraged to provide additional support to on-going DHS operations. n11
* Information sharing among local law enforcement and response agencies and federal agencies could be improved using DoD lessons about how to design and operate cloud networks to improve both disaster management and border security. n12
These are just a few of the many ways DoD capabilities might be used to support DHS missions. However, before implementing any of them,
* Demonstrate how the new uses improve capability, and estimate the associated acquisition and sustainment costs.
* Coordinate transfer and use of DoD systems with existing DHS acquisition strategies.
* Ensure use of DoD capabilities for homeland security missions is consistent with existing legal authorities and policies and reflects the desired use of the military in civilian operations.
* Review policies associated with using DoD capabilities for homeland security missions and address any policies that should be streamlined or reinforced.
* Clarify which organizations should bear the costs of operating the technologies and adjust budgets accordingly.
Making the Nation Safer and More Resilient
The second QHSR should reflect continued maturation of governance at DHS and provide a stepping off point for further improvements. We all certainly want more effective protection from terrorism, better preparation for disasters, and more resilient communities. The multiplicity and complexity of current homeland security threats, uncertainty surrounding what new threats could emerge or how known trends might evolve, and constraints on budgets, make achieving these goals difficult. If DHS is to overcome all of these challenges, three things will be required: strategic focus to direct resources where they are most needed, strong oversight to assure that resources are used effectively, and finally, cooperation across government to improve efficiency.
Again, Chairman Duncan, Ranking Member Barber, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to testify before you today on this very important opportunity for DHS. I look forward to taking your questions.
n1 The opinions and conclusions expressed in this testimony are the author's alone and should not be interpreted as representing those of RAND or any of the sponsors of its research. This product is part of the
n2 This testimony is available for free download at http://www.rand.org/pubs/testimonies/CT412.html.
n3 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review Report: A Strategic Framework for a Secure Homeland,
n5 For example see,
n8 GAO, Homeland Security:
n9 GAO, Homeland Security: Observations on DHS Oversight of Major Acquisitions and Efforts to Match /Resources to Needs. GAO-13-846T,
Read this original document at: http://docs.house.gov/meetings/HM/HM09/20140620/102370/HHRG-113-HM09-Wstate-WillisH-20140620.pdf
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