Rich Cooper

Sep 30, 2009

As part of is ongoing outreach on QHSR, DHS hosted another Bloggers Roundtable to talk about the third portion of its homeland security dialogue.  Alan Cohn, DHS’ Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) for Policy led the call and shared the progress and success of this first ever homeland security dialogue.  With thousands of diverse participants, Cohn shared how pleased the Department was with the amount of inputs they have received and offered that while the QHSR is entering its final stages, the conversations that had been started would be on-going.

It was obvious that he was pleased by the received inputs, but a question that I have had from the beginning is at the end of the road of the QHSR what’s going to happen.  

It’s always of great value to have a top to bottom analysis of what we are doing in homeland security, but if all we do is just talk about this stuff, put it into a report and don’t do anything it, all of it will have been a complete waste of time.  I do not think anything associated with QHSR is a waste of time, but I do see on the horizon something that really has not happened in a while and that is the dreaded word, “reorganization.”

If you look at the five points that Sec. Napolitano has made as the hallmarks of her DHS tenure, the final one is a “unified DHS.” In her remarks at the Red Cross on 9/29/09 she shared that in the coming months she will be laying out a vision for what “one DHS” means.  If you look at the time table associated with the QHSR, it will be wrapping up its work around the same time.  

If you put those two items together they point to reorganization on the immediate horizon.  None of this should be a surprise either.

When then DHS Secretary Chertoff led the Second Stage Review at DHS (aka 2SR) in 2005 and announced his findings, a Department reorganization was announced and subsequently implemented.  

This time though the review process is much more comprehensive and inclusive about the nation’s homeland security mission.  As DAS Cohn described it, the QHSR has been “an examination of ourselves as an enterprise.”

When asked about the prospects of a coming shifting of the boxes at DHS, DAS Cohn offered that “it was too early to speculate on reorganization and what possible forms the Department might take.”  In his words, the focus of the QHSR had been “function,” “finding the shared goals and objectives,” and “how do we improve DHS and homeland security in general.”

He’s right it is too early to speculate, but based on previous behavior at DHS as well as other extensive quadrennial reviews that have occurred elsewhere, it’s fairly obvious at what’s going to happen at the end of the rainbow.  Reorganization is in the future and it will have lots of insights, diverse stakeholder inputs, analysis and documentation to guide it.

This piece was originally posted on Security Debrief.


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