Sunday, November 16, 2003

State of the Department of Homeland Security

Received via email...

The following text is from a group project that I am working on for a class at WCU. We have to use an interview as a source in our references. Please read the below text, and commment by e-mail, so that I can list this personal communication as a fulfillment of the project requirement regarding interviews. Thanks.

Some of the justifications for the realignment of government agencies were logistical. For example, prior to enactment of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, numerous federal agencies had overlapping jurisdictions over parts of ships entering a port in the United States: Customs, Immigration and Naturalization (INS), the Coast Guard, and Department of Agriculture. Customs had jurisdiction over the goods aboard the ship. INS had jurisdiction over the people on the ship. The Coast Guard had jurisdiction over the ship while it was at sea. The Department of Agriculture had jurisdiction over certain cargo (Bush, 2002a). All of these agencies are now consolidated under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security. However, each agency in great part has maintained its internal management and command infrastructure as well as, to some extent, its own political culture. As such, the coordinated law enforcement efforts envisioned by enactment of the Act might not be realistic.

Might not be realistic? Try, the vision is no-where-close-at-the-moment... every agency in DHS still has their own agents and officers... There's no -- or just limited -- coordination... One of the things that would help the individual agencies begin to coordinate is the use of integrated command centers. One problem, however, is that each agency wants to be the hosting agency. The Coast Guard is looking for ways to become the agency of choice for command centers; so is FEMA. I imagine Customs and the Border Patrol are doing the same thing. At the moment, there's been no impact on the Coast Guard by moving to DHS, at least from an operational perspective. That may change. Likely will. There's rumors about that the Coast Guard district boundaries will be re-racked to jive with the DHS regional boundaries, that the CG will move operational commanders (currently the district commanders, a flag officer) to the same city as the DHS regional directors, that the CG will be broken down to component parts to work with other agencies, who are also broken down into component parts. None of that has happened yet. None of this will happen in the next year or two. Rumors abound that DHS will make an announcement as to organizational structure on their one-year anniversary; at present, all of that is pre-decisional. At present, each agency still is what they were before; we might talk better to each other, but other than that, no real changes.

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