Important Homeland Security Input: High-Ranking PNSR Group Releases Its Final Report

Last week, the Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) released its final report, which includes an executive summary that makes a number of structural and process recommendations to Congress and the next president for resolving many of the problems inherent in the current national-defense and homeland-security system.  The project expects to prepare a number of draft presidential directives and a new National Security Act that would replace many of the provisions of the National Security Act of 1947. The latter, developed under President Truman, established the current national security system in the aftermath of World War II.  The State and Defense Departments, National Security Council, intelligence community, Homeland Security Department, and Homeland Security Council are central players in the current system.  Other cabinet departments – e.g., the Energy, Treasury, and Commerce Departments – have more recently become important players as well. In part motivated by the structural and process deficiencies evidenced by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, Congress established and funded PNSR as a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization to undertake one of the most comprehensive studies of the U.S. national security system in the nation’s history. Additional funding was provided by a number of private-sector foundations and corporations. The homeland-security input to the PNSR effort was led by’s John F. Morton, who chairs the State/Local Issue Team of the PNSR Structure Working Group.  Morton assembled some 20 homeland-security professionals who have, or have had, operational line authority at the local, state, and federal levels of government – and across numerous homeland-security disciplines – in both the public and private sectors.  Several of the Team members also are or have been contributors to DomPrep Journal and/or have participated in other projects and programs. The State/Local Issue Team produced two documents – a Problem Analysis, and a Solution Set – that are included in the PNSR final report and/or reflected in several PNSR recommendations.  In its Problem Analysis the Team found the core problem to be “the fragmented national security and homeland security structure – between and within all levels of government – which fails to require and empower systematic collaboration, coordination and integration of strategy and policy development, resourcing and aligned operational execution in steady-state or crises.” The Team also enumerated a number of symptoms, including the following, derived from that assessment:

  • Ambiguity in many national-security and homeland-security roles and missions within the Executive Office of the President (EOP) creates confusion and impedes clear lines of presidentially delegated authority to lead policy development and federal-level operational execution.
  • Strong workforce cultures in each department, agency, and intra-DHS stovepipes have prevented full institutionalization of a homeland-security culture.  With respect to DHS, no organizational entity above the DHS agencies – whether in the mission or back offices – effectively drives a common culture.
  • The currently inefficient budget process does not vest the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) with the appropriate authority to oversee and make recommendations on all federal homeland-security and national-security budgets toentify and eliminate duplication of effort among and within departments and agencies.
  • Current legislative branch mechanisms (structure, processes, culture, etc.) drive further fragmentation and inefficiencies in execution of executive branch national-security and homeland-security responsibilities.
  • Despite the language of such foundational policy documents as the National Security Act of 1947, Homeland Security Act of 2002, Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 – and others such as the National Response Framework (NRF) – the National Security Council (NSC) and the Homeland Security Council (HSC) have no standardized process to solicit and receive state, local, private-sector, and NGO (non-governmental organizations) input into the development of national policy. 
  • DHS, the Department of Justice (DOJ), DOD, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the HSC, and other federal entities with homeland-security mission responsibilities – along with their state and local partners – have failed to institutionalize a comprehensive and workable information-sharing structure and a responsibility to develop an information-sharing culture. 
  • Implementation of comprehensive national-security and homeland-security planning at the state and local levels is uneven. 
  • Homeland security grant mechanisms work against collaboration, fragment state and local planning, and reinforce federal stovepipes.

Among the 19 specific solutions in the Team’s Solution Set are the following 10 particularly important recommendations:

  • A merger of the National Security Council (NSC) and the Homeland Security Council (HSC).
  • Congressional codification of the Secretary of Homeland Security’s overall federal executive-agent responsibility as the Principal Federal Official (PFO) for ensuring the coordination of domestic incident management.
  • Combination of Homeland and National Security budget activities into a single entity within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
  • Re-establishment of the DHS Office of State and Local Government Coordination.
  • The consolidation of congressional oversight of DHS homeland-security functions into one authorization committee and one appropriations subcommittee per chamber.
  • DHS development of a comprehensive National Operational Framework (NOF) to succeed the National Response Framework. 
  • Conforming language in statutes and executive orders to maintain that the Secretary of Homeland Security is the Principal Federal Official for domestic incident management of homeland-security threats and events and to incorporate language clarifying the chain of directive authority through the appropriate regional federal structures.
  • Appointment of pre-designated field-level PFOs as regional DHS representatives to leverage their ongoing, steady-state, stakeholder relationships in a crisis.
  • Establishment of formal, up-front, consistent systematic “steering committee” processes and structures for state and local government, with private-sector and non-governmental organization participation to support national-security and homeland-security policy development on issues where those constituencies have equities. 
  • Federal support for an independent, private sector-led national mechanism/entity to facilitate public/private collaboration and sustain “continuity of community” approaches for domestic incident management.

PNSR Recommendations: Forging A New Shield – Full Report

PNSR Recommendations: Forging A New Shield – Executive Summary

Martin D. Masiuk

Martin (Marty) Masiuk is president and founder of International Media Representatives Inc. (IMR Group Inc.), which was established in 1986 as an American-based media representation firm for overseas, aerospace, and defense publications. In 1998, under the IMR Group, he established, which has evolved into a highly trusted, and important information service for the multi-disclipline, multi-jurisdiction preparedness community. In 2014, he transitioned the DomPrep40 into the Preparedness Leadership Council to lessen the burden on and increase the effectiveness of operational preparedness professionals and help policy professionals make better-informed decisions. Prior to IMR Group, he served as an account representative for McGraw Hill’s Business Week and Aviation Week & Space Technology publications.



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