Department of Homeland Security

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Updated:Sunday 12th October 2014

Department of Homeland Security ?

Department of Homeland Security Definition

(Wikipedia) - United States Department of Homeland Security   (Redirected from Department of Homeland Security) "USDHS" and "DHS" redirect here. For the former high school, see University of San Diego High School. For other uses, see DHS (disambiguation). United States Department of Homeland Security Agency overview Formed Jurisdiction Headquarters Employees Annual budget Agency executive Child agencies Website
Seal of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Flag of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
November 25, 2002 (2002-11-25)
United States
Nebraska Avenue Complex Washington, D.C., U.S. 38°56′17″N 77°4′56″W / 38.93806°N 77.08222°W / 38.93806; -77.08222Coordinates: 38°56′17″N 77°4′56″W / 38.93806°N 77.08222°W / 38.93806; -77.08222
US$60.8 billion (FY 2013)
Jeh Johnson, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services U.S. Customs and Border Protection Federal Emergency Management Agency U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Transportation Security Administration U.S. Coast Guard National Protection and Programs Directorate U.S. Secret Service

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a cabinet department of the United States federal government, first proposed by the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century in January 2001 and expedited in response to the September 11 attacks. The Department of Homeland Security is charged with the primary responsibilities of protecting the United States and its territories (including protectorates) from and responding to terrorist attacks, man-made accidents, and natural disasters. The Department of Homeland Security, and not the United States Department of the Interior, is equivalent to the Interior ministries of other countries. In fiscal year 2011, DHS was allocated a budget of $98.8 billion and spent, net, $66.4 billion.

Where the Department of Defense is charged with military actions abroad, the Department of Homeland Security works in the civilian sphere to protect the United States within, at, and outside its borders. Its stated goal is to prepare for, prevent, and respond to domestic emergencies, particularly terrorism. On March 1, 2003, DHS absorbed the Immigration and Naturalization Service and assumed its duties. In doing so, it divided the enforcement and services functions into two separate and new agencies: Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Citizenship and Immigration Services. The investigative divisions and intelligence gathering units of the INS and Customs Service were merged forming Homeland Security Investigations. Additionally, the border enforcement functions of the INS, including the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Customs Service, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service were consolidated into a new agency under DHS: U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Federal Protective Service falls under the National Protection and Programs Directorate.

With more than 200,000 employees, DHS is the third largest Cabinet department, after the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Homeland security policy is coordinated at the White House by the Homeland Security Council. Other agencies with significant homeland security responsibilities include the Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, and Energy.

On December 16, 2013, the U.S. Senate confirmed Jeh Johnson as the Secretary of Homeland Security.

According to the Homeland Security Research Corporation, the combined financial year 2010 state and local homeland security (HLS) markets, which employ more than 2.2 million first responders, totaled $16.5 billion, whereas the DHS HLS market totaled $13 billion. According to The Washington Post, "DHS has given $31 billion in grants since 2003 to state and local governments for homeland security and to improve their ability to find and protect against terrorists, including $3.8 billion in 2010".

According to Peter Andreas, a border theorist, the creation of DHS constituted the most significant government reorganization since the Cold War, and the most substantial reorganization of federal agencies since the National Security Act of 1947, which placed the different military departments under a secretary of defense and created the National Security Council and Central Intelligence Agency. DHS also constitutes the most diverse merger of federal functions and responsibilities, incorporating 22 government agencies into a single organization.

  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 History
    • 2.1 Creation
    • 2.2 Consolidated agencies
  • 3 Overview
    • 3.1 Homeland Security Advisory System
    • 3.2
    • 3.3 National Incident Management System
    • 3.4 National Response Framework
    • 3.5 Cyber-security
    • 3.6 First Responders
      • 3.6.1 R-Tech
      • 3.6.2 Communities of Practice
      • 3.6.3 Virtual Social Media Working Group
  • 4 Structure
  • 5 Budget and finances
    • 5.1 Audit of expenditures
  • 6 Seal
  • 7 Headquarters
  • 8 Criticism
    • 8.1 Excess, waste, and ineffectiveness
    • 8.2 Fragmented congressional oversight
    • 8.3 Data mining (ADVISE)
    • 8.4 Fusion centers
      • 8.4.1 MIAC report
      • 8.4.2 2009 Virginia terrorism threat assessment
    • 8.5 Mail interception
    • 8.6 Employee morale
    • 8.7 Consumer satisfaction
  • 9 See also
  • 10 Notes
  • 11 External links


The first time the term "Homeland" was used in reference to a cabinet-level agency was by the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century in its January 2001 report to Congress when it proposed the creation of a "Homeland Security Agency" to "consolidate and refine the missions of the nearly two dozen disparate departments and agencies that have a role in U.S. homeland security today". The first time the term was used in a bill was by Representative Mac Thornberry (R-TX 13th District) in H.R. 1158, "To Establish the National Homeland Security Agency", proposed in the 107th Congress in March 2001. Additionally, a July 2001 paper by the RAND Corporation outlined, in detail, how to "prepare the Army" for "Homeland Security" which RAND defined as "encompassing five distinct missions: domestic preparedness and civil support in case of attacks on civilians, continuity of government, continuity of military operations, border and coastal defense, and national missile defense." Thornberry would again call for the creation of a "Homeland Security Agency" on September 12, 2001. Nearly a year later in an August 5, 2002 speech, U.S. President George W. Bush stated: "We''re secure freedom in the homeland". Prior to the creation of DHS, American presidents had referred to the United States as "the nation" or "the republic", and to its internal policies as "domestic". Also unprecedented was the use, from 2002, of the phrase "the homeland" by White House spokespeople. The choice of this phrase raised questions regarding the self-image of the United States.

History CreationThe flag and seal of the Office of Homeland Security, the predecessor to the DHS

Though the outline and overall purpose of a Cabinet-level "Homeland Security" department had been proposed both by the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century in January 2001 and Rep. Mac Thornberry in March 2001, the current iteration was created specifically in response to the September 11 attacks. President George W. Bush announced the establishment of the Office of Homeland Security (OHS) to coordinate "homeland security" efforts. The office was headed by former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, who assumed the title of Assistant to the President for Homeland Security. The official announcement stated:

The mission of the Office will be to develop and coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks. The Office will coordinate the executive branch''s efforts to detect, prepare for, prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks within the United States.

Ridge began his duties as OHS director on October 8, 2001.

The Department of Homeland Security was established on November 25, 2002, by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. It was intended to consolidate U.S. executive branch organizations related to "homeland security" into a single Cabinet agency.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer addresses Dick Cheney (center), then Vice President of the United States, Saxby Chambliss (center right), a U.S. senator from Georgia and Michael Chertoff (far right), then United States Secretary of Homeland Security in 2005

Prior to the signing of the bill, controversy about its adoption centered on whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency should be incorporated in part or in whole (neither were included). The bill itself was also controversial for the presence of unrelated "riders", as well as for eliminating certain union-friendly civil service and labor protections for department employees. Without these protections, employees could be expeditiously reassigned or dismissed on grounds of security, incompetence or insubordination, and DHS would not be required to notify their union representatives.

The plan stripped 180,000 government employees of their union rights. In 2002, Bush Administration officials argued that the September 11 attacks made the proposed elimination of employee protections imperative.

Congress ultimately passed the Homeland Security Act of 2002 without the union-friendly measures, and President Bush signed the bill into law on November 25, 2002. It was the largest U.S. government reorganization in the 50 years since the United States Department of Defense was created.

Tom Ridge was named secretary on January 24, 2003, and began naming his chief deputies. DHS officially began operations on January 24, 2003, but most of the department''s component agencies were not transferred into the new Department until March 1.

President George W. Bush signs the Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2004 on October 1, 2003.

After establishing the basic structure of DHS and working to integrate its components and get the department functioning, Ridge announced his resignation on November 30, 2004, following the re-election of President Bush. Bush initially nominated former New York City Police Department commissioner Bernard Kerik as his successor, but on December 10, Kerik withdrew his nomination, citing personal reasons and saying it "would not be in the best interests" of the country for him to pursue the post. On January 11, 2005, President Bush nominated federal judge Michael Chertoff to succeed Ridge. Chertoff was confirmed on February 15, 2005, by a vote of 98–0 in the U.S. Senate. He was sworn in the same day.

In February 2005, DHS and the Office of Personnel Management issued rules relating to employee pay and discipline for a new personnel system named MaxHR. The Washington Post said that the rules would allow DHS "to override any provision in a union contract by issuing a department-wide directive" and would make it "difficult, if not impossible, for unions to negotiate over arrangements for staffing, deployments, technology and other workplace matters".

In August 2005, U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer blocked the plan on the grounds that it did not ensure collective-bargaining rights for DHS employees.

A federal appeals court ruled against DHS in 2006; pending a final resolution to the litigation, Congress''s fiscal year 2008 appropriations bill for DHS provided no funding for the proposed new personnel system. DHS announced in early 2007 that it was retooling its pay and performance system and retiring the name "MaxHR".

In a February 2008 court filing, DHS said that it would no longer pursue the new rules, and that it would abide by the existing civil service labor-management procedures. A federal court issued an order closing the case.

Consolidated agencies

The following 22 agencies were incorporated into the new department:

Original Agency Original Department New Agency or Office
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (part) Agriculture U.S. Customs and Border Protection
CBRN Countermeasures Programs Energy Science & Technology Directorate
Domestic Emergency Support Teams Justice Responsibilities distributed within FEMA
Energy Security and Assurance Program Energy Office of Infrastructure Protection
Environmental Measurements Laboratory Energy Science & Technology Directorate
Federal Computer Incident Response Center General Services Administration US-CERT, Office of Cybersecurity and Communications National Protection and Programs Directorate
Federal Emergency Management Agency none Federal Emergency Management Agency
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center Treasury Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
Federal Protective Service General Services Administration U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Immigration and Naturalization Service Justice U.S. Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

National Biological Warfare Defense Analysis Center Defense Science & Technology Directorate
National Communications System Defense Office of Cybersecurity and Communications National Protection and Programs Directorate
National Domestic Preparedness Office FBI Responsibilities distributed within FEMA
National Infrastructure Protection Center FBI Office of Operations Coordination Office of Infrastructure Protection
Nuclear Incident Response Team Energy Responsibilities distributed within FEMA
Office for Domestic Preparedness Justice Responsibilities distributed within FEMA
Plum Island Animal Disease Center Agriculture Science & Technology Directorate
Strategic National Stockpile National Disaster Medical System Health and Human Services Returned to HHS, July 2004
Transportation Security Administration Transportation Transportation Security Administration
U.S. Coast Guard Transportation U.S. Coast Guard
U.S. Customs Service Treasury U.S. Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

U.S. Secret Service Treasury U.S. Secret Service
Overview Homeland Security Advisory SystemThe Homeland Security Advisory System scale

On March 12, 2002, the Homeland Security Advisory System, a color-coded terrorism risk advisory scale, was created as the result of a Presidential Directive to provide a "comprehensive and effective means to disseminate information regarding the risk of terrorist acts to Federal, State, and local authorities and to the American people." Many procedures at government facilities are tied in to the alert level; for example a facility may search all entering vehicles when the alert is above a certain level. Since January 2003, it has been administered in coordination with DHS; it has also been the target of frequent jokes and ridicule on the part of the administration''s detractors about its ineffectiveness. After resigning, Tom Ridge stated that he did not always agree with the threat level adjustments pushed by other government agencies.

In January 2003, the office was merged into the Department of Homeland Security and the White House Homeland Security Council, both of which were created by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The Homeland Security Council, similar in nature to the National Security Council, retains a policy coordination and advisory role, and is led by the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security.

As of January 13, 2011, the DHS advised the American public of an ''elevated national threat'' level, recommending that all Americans ''should establish an emergency preparedness kit and emergency plan for themselves and their family, and stay informed about what to do during an emergency''.

The National Terrorism Advisory System, or NTAS, replaces the color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS). The NTAS will include information specific to the particular credible threat, and will not use a color-coded scale. program logo

Soon after the formation of Department of Homeland Security, the Martin Agency of Richmond, Virginia worked pro bono to create "", a readiness website. The site and materials were conceived in March 2002 and launched in February 2003, just before the launch of the Iraq War. One of the first announcements that garnered widespread public attention to this campaign was one by Tom Ridge in which he stated that in the case of a chemical attack, citizens should use duct tape and plastic sheeting to build a homemade bunker, or "sheltering in place" to protect themselves. As a result, the sales of duct tape skyrocketed and DHS was criticized for being too alarmist. The site was promoted with banner ads containing automatic audio components on commercial web sites.

National Incident Management System

On March 1, 2004, the National Incident Management System (NIMS) was created. The stated purpose was to provide a consistent incident management approach for federal, state, local, and tribal governments. Under Homeland Security Presidential Directive-5, all federal departments were required to adopt the NIMS and to use it in their individual domestic incident management and emergency prevention, preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation program and activities.

National Response Framework

In December 2004, the National Response Plan (NRP) was created, in an attempt to align federal coordination structures, capabilities, and resources into a unified, all-discipline, and all-hazards approach to domestic incident management. The NRP was built on the template of the NIMS.

On January 22, 2008, the National Response Framework was published in the Federal Register as an updated replacement of the NRP, effective March 22, 2008.

Cyber-security See also: Cyber-security regulation

The DHS National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) is responsible for the response system, risk management program, and requirements for cyber-security in the U.S. The division is home to US-CERT operations and the National Cyber Alert System. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate helps government and private end-users transition to new cyber-security capabilities. This directorate also funds the Cyber Security Research and Development Center, which identifies and prioritizes research and development for NCSD. The center works on the Internet''s routing infrastructure (the SPRI program) and Domain Name System (DNSSEC), identity theft and other online criminal activity (ITTC), Internet traffic and networks research (PREDICT datasets and the DETER testbed), Department of Defense and HSARPA exercises (Livewire and Determined Promise), and wireless security in cooperation with Canada.

On October 30, 2009, DHS opened the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center. The center brings together government organizations responsible for protecting computer networks and networked infrastructure.

First Responders

The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) runs a number of technology-based programs aimed at assisting first responders, including R-Tech, Communities of Practice, and the Virtual Social Media Working Group.


The DHS S&T First Responder Technologies (R-Tech) program helps first responders by finding solutions in areas that first responders have gaps in their abilities to respond. The program tries to do this through fast prototyping of technologies, giving technical help and support, and sharing information.

Communities of Practice

The DHS S&T First Responder Communities of Practice program gives first responders an online service for professional networking, working together on projects with other organizations, and sharing resources.

Virtual Social Media Working Group

First responders have increasingly used social media in emergency response and recovery operations. Social media tools are used to connect with citizens after a disaster and share information.

The Virtual Social Media Working group (VSMWG) is an online platform that gives advice to first responders on how to safely and effectively use social media in emergency response operations. The working group is made up of subject matter experts from across the U.S. It was created by DHS in December 2010 and gives first responders guidance and best practices regarding the use of social media during emergencies. The DHS S&T and the VSMWG work with local and state governments, academics and nonprofits.

StructureOrganizational chart showing the chain of command among the top-level officials in the Department of Homeland Security, as of July 17, 2008

The Department of Homeland Security is headed by the Secretary of Homeland Security, who is appointed by the President of the United States with the consent of the United States Senate. The Secretary serves at the pleasure of the President. The Secretary is assisted in the management of the Department by the Deputy Secretary, several Under Secretaries, and several Assistant Secretaries. Within the Department are several component agencies and internal divisions.

  • Secretary of Homeland Security
    • Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security
      • Agencies
        • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
        • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
        • U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)
        • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
        • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
        • U.S. Secret Service (USSS)
        • Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
      • Divisions
        • DHS Management Directorate
        • DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate
        • DHS Office of Health Affairs
        • DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis
        • DHS Office of Operations Coordination
        • DHS Office of Policy
        • DHS Science and Technology Directorate
        • Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
        • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
Budget and finances

The Department of Homeland Security was authorized a budget for Fiscal Year 2015 of $60.9 billion. The budget authorization is broken down as follows:

Program Funding (in billions)
Management and Finance
Departmental OperationsOffice of the Secretary Management Directorate $0.7$0.1 $0.6
Analysis and OperationsOffice of Intelligence and Analysis Office of Operations Coordination $0.3
Office of the Inspector General $0.1
Office of Health Affairs $0.1
Domestic Nuclear Detection Office $0.3
Immigration and Border Security
Customs and Border ProtectionManagement and Administration Office of Border Patrol Office of Field Operations Office of Air and Marine $12.8$3.4 $3.9 $3.2 $0.7
Immigration and Customs Enforcement $5.4
Citizenship and Immigration Services $3.3
Law Enforcement Activities
Transportation Security AdministrationAviation Security Surface Transportation Security Intelligence and Vetting Support $7.3$5.7 $0.1 $0.3 $0.9
Coast GuardOperations Reserve Training Acquisitions Mandatory Spending $9.8$7.0 $0.1 $1.1 $1.7
Secret Service $1.9
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center $0.3
National Protection and Programs DirectorateManagement and Administration Infrastructure Protection and Information Security Office of Bio-metric Identity Management Federal Protective Service $2.9$0.1 $1.2 $0.3 $1.3
Science and Technology DirectorateManagement and Administration Laboratory Facilities Research and Development $1.1$0.2 $0.4 $0.5
Emergency Management
Federal Emergency Management AgencyOperations Sate and Local Programs Disaster Relief Fund National Flood Insurance Fund $14.8$0.9 $2.2 $7.0 $4.4
TOTAL $60.9
Audit of expenditures

The DHS independent auditor is KPMG, one of the Big Four audit firms. Due to the level of material weaknesses identified, KPMG were unable to audit the DHS financial statements for FY 2010. KPMG were unable to express an audit opinion on the FY 2009, FY 2008, FY 2007, FY 2005, and FY 2003 financial statements. Attempts to access the reports for FY 2006 and FY 2004 within the ''information for citizens'' portal met with a 404 error. The Message from the DHS chief financial officer in the FY 2010 report states ''This Annual Financial Report (AFR) is our principal financial statement of accountability to the President, Congress and the American public. The AFR gives a comprehensive view of the Department''s financial activities and demonstrates the Department''s stewardship of taxpayer dollars.'' The Message from the DHS chief financial officer concludes ''I am extremely proud of the Department''s accomplishments ... we will continue to build upon our successes.'' The Secretary of Homeland Security endorsed this message saying that the DHS is ''continuing to be responsible stewards of taxpayer resources. The scope of our mission is broad, challenging, and vital to the security of the Nation ... Thank you for your partnership and collaboration. Yours very truly, Janet Napolitano.''

Seal Main article: Seal of the United States Department of Homeland SecuritySeal of the Department of Homeland Security.

A DHS press release dated June 19, 2003 describes the seal as follows:

The seal is symbolic of the Department''s mission – to prevent attacks and protect Americans – on the land, in the sea and in the air. In the center of the seal, a graphically styled white American eagle appears in a circular blue field. The eagle''s outstretched wings break through an inner red ring into an outer white ring that contains the words "U.S. DEPARTMENT OF" in the top half and "HOMELAND SECURITY" in the bottom half in a circular placement. The eagle''s wings break through the inner circle into the outer ring to suggest that the Department of Homeland Security will break through traditional bureaucracy and perform government functions differently. In the tradition of the Great Seal of the United States, the eagle''s talon on the left holds an olive branch with 13 leaves and 13 seeds while the eagle''s talon on the right grasps 13 arrows.

Centered on the eagle''s breast is a shield divided into three sections containing elements that represent the American homeland – air, land, and sea. The top element, a dark blue sky, contains 22 stars representing the original 22 entities that have come together to form the department. The left shield element contains white mountains behind a green plain underneath a light blue sky. The right shield element contains four wave shapes representing the oceans alternating light and dark blue separated by white lines.

The seal was developed with input from senior DHS leadership, employees, and the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts. The Ad Council – which partners with DHS on its campaign – and the consulting company Landor Associates were responsible for graphic design and maintaining heraldic integrity.

HeadquartersPresident George W. Bush visiting the National Operations Center in 2007.

Since its inception, the department has had its temporary headquarters in Washington, D.C.''s Nebraska Avenue Complex, a former naval facility. The 38-acre (15 ha) site, across from American University, has 32 buildings comprising 566,000 square feet (52,600 m2) of administrative space. In early 2007, the Department submitted a $4.1 billion plan to Congress to consolidate its 60-plus Washington-area offices into a single headquarters complex at the St. Elizabeths Hospital campus in Anacostia, Southeast Washington, D.C. The earliest DHS began moving to St. Elizabeths is 2013.

The move is being championed by District of Columbia officials because of the positive economic impact it will have on historically depressed Anacostia. The move has been criticized by historic preservationists, who claim the revitalization plans will destroy dozens of historic buildings on the campus. Community activists have criticized the plans because the facility will remain walled off and have little interaction with the surrounding area. On January 8, 2009, the National Capital Planning Commission approved the Department of Homeland Security''s plans to move into the campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital.

The new DHS headquarters campus is now slated to open in 2021. The five-year delay is due primarily to spending cuts in construction funds imposed by Congress. In fiscal 2011, DHS and the General Services Administration (GSA; which oversees construction for DHS) requested $668 million for construction and consolidation but received only $77 million. In fiscal 2012, DHS and GSA requested $377 million but received only $106 million. In fiscal 2013, President Obama''s budget suggested giving GSA $56 million in construction funds, and DHS $89 million (to be used primarily for local road improvements and for moving the Coast Guard into its new building). The two agencies had requested $460 million. Only the new Coast Guard headquarters building is due to open on time (in 2013). This is because GSA has relied on $200 million in funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and a large appropriation from the fiscal 2009 federal budget to complete the structure.

Criticism See also: Criticism of government response to Hurricane Katrina Excess, waste, and ineffectiveness

The Department of Homeland Security has been dogged by persistent criticism over excessive bureaucracy, waste, ineffectiveness and lack of transparency. A House of Representatives subcommittee estimated that as of September 2008 the department has wasted roughly $15 billion in failed contracts. In 2003, the department came under fire after the media revealed that Laura Callahan, Deputy chief information officer at DHS with responsibilities for sensitive national security databases, had obtained her advanced computer science degrees through a diploma mill in a small town in Wyoming. The department was blamed for up to $2 billion of waste and fraud after audits by the Government Accountability Office revealed widespread misuse of government credit cards by DHS employees, with purchases including beer brewing kits, $70,000 of plastic dog booties that were later deemed unusable, boats purchased at double the retail price (many of which later could not be found), and iPods ostensibly for use in "data storage".

Fragmented congressional oversight

Current and former DHS officials, 9/11 Commission members, liberal and conservative policy groups and the ranking Republican member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Peter T. King, have strongly criticized the growing number of House and Senate panels that regularly demand formal reports, testimony and formal briefings from DHS officials and staff. By 2010, there were 108 congressional committees and subcommittees claiming jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security, up from 86 committees in 2004, when the 9/11 Commission published its final report, which addressed this issue, stating that "Congress should create a single, principal point of oversight and review for homeland security."

Former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff warns that too much oversight results, ironically, in too much autonomy for the department: "The winds up getting a mixed message. ... So either the department has no guidance or, more likely, the department ignores both because they''re in conflict. And so the department does what it wants to do."

Data mining (ADVISE)

The Associated Press reported on September 5, 2007, that DHS had scrapped an anti-terrorism data mining tool called ADVISE (Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight and Semantic Enhancement) after the agency''s Privacy Office and Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that pilot testing of the system had been performed using data on real people without having done a Privacy Impact Assessment, a required privacy safeguard for the various uses of real personally identifiable information required by section 208 of the e-Government Act of 2002. The OIG report noted that ADVISE was poorly planned, time-consuming for analysts to use, and lacked adequate justifications. The system, in development at Lawrence Livermore and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory since 2003, had cost the agency $42 million to date. Controversy over the program preceded the Privacy Office and OIG reports; in March 2007, the Government Accountability Office stated that "the ADVISE tool could misidentify or erroneously associate an individual with undesirable activity such as fraud, crime or terrorism."

Fusion centers Main article: Fusion center

Fusion centers are terrorism prevention and response centers, many of which were created under a joint project between the Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of Justice''s Office of Justice Programs between 2003 and 2007. The fusion centers gather information not only from government sources, but also from their partners in the private sector.

They are designed to promote information sharing at the federal level between agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Justice, US Military and state and local level government. As of July 2009, the Department of Homeland Security recognized at least seventy-two fusion centers. Fusion centers may also be affiliated with an Emergency Operations Center that responds in the event of a disaster.

There are a number of documented criticisms of fusion centers, including relative ineffectiveness at counterterrorism activities, the potential to be used for secondary purposes unrelated to counterterrorism, and their links to violations of civil liberties of American citizens and others.

David Rittgers of the Cato Institute has noted

a long line of fusion center and DHS reports labeling broad swaths of the public as a threat to national security. The North Texas Fusion System labeled Muslim lobbyists as a potential threat; a DHS analyst in Wisconsin thought both pro- and anti-abortion activists were worrisome; a Pennsylvania homeland security contractor watched environmental activists, Tea Party groups, and a Second Amendment rally; the Maryland State Police put anti-death penalty and anti-war activists in a federal terrorism database; a fusion center in Missouri thought that all third-party voters and Ron Paul supporters were a threat....”

MIAC report

The Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) made news in 2009 for targeting supporters of third party candidates, pro-life activists, and conspiracy theorists as potential militia members. Anti-war activists and Islamic lobby groups were targeted in Texas, drawing criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Privacy Office has identified a number of risks to privacy presented by the Fusion Center program: 1) justification for Fusion Centers, 2) ambiguous lines of authority, rules, and oversight, 3) participation of the military and the private sector, 4) data mining, 5) excessive secrecy, 6) inaccurate or incomplete information, and 7) mission creep.

2009 Virginia terrorism threat assessment

In early April 2009, the Virginia Fusion Center came under criticism for publishing a terrorism threat assessment which stated that certain universities are potential hubs for terror related activity. The report targeted historically black colleges and identified hacktivism as a form of terrorism.

Mail interception

In 2006, MSNBC reported that Grant Goodman, "an 81-year-old retired University of Kansas history professor, received a letter from his friend in the Philippines that had been opened and resealed with a strip of dark green tape bearing the words “by Border Protection” and carrying the official Homeland Security seal." The letter was sent by a devout Catholic Filipino woman with no history of supporting Islamic terrorism. A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection "acknowledged that the agency can, will and does open mail coming to U.S. citizens that originates from a foreign country whenever it''s deemed necessary":

"All mail originating outside the United States Customs territory that is to be delivered inside the U.S. Customs territory is subject to Customs examination," says the CBP Web site. That includes personal correspondence. "All mail means ''all mail,''" said John Mohan, a CBP spokesman, emphasizing the point.

The Department declined to outline what criteria are used to determine when a piece of personal correspondence should be opened or to say how often or in what volume Customs might be opening mail.

Goodman''s story provoked outrage in the blogosphere, as well as in the more established media. Reacting to the incident, Mother Jones remarked that "nlike other prying government agencies, Homeland Security wants you to know it is watching you". CNN observed that "n the heels of the NSA wiretapping controversy, Goodman''s letter raises more concern over the balance between privacy and security".

Employee morale

In July 2006, the Office of Personnel Management conducted a survey of federal employees in all 36 federal agencies on job satisfaction and how they felt their respective agency was headed. DHS was last or near to last in every category including:

  • 33rd on the talent management index
  • 35th on the leadership and knowledge management index
  • 36th on the job satisfaction index
  • 36th on the results-oriented performance culture index

The low scores were attributed to major concerns about basic supervision, management and leadership within the agency. Examples from the survey reveal most concerns are about promotion and pay increase based on merit, dealing with poor performance, rewarding creativity and innovation, leadership generating high levels of motivation in the workforce, recognition for doing a good job, lack of satisfaction with various component policies and procedures and lack of information about what is going on with the organization.

Consumer satisfaction

A 2007 AP poll ranked DHS at the bottom of an index of consumer satisfaction among cabinet departments, and two of its agencies, FEMA and TSA, at the bottom, below the IRS.

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