As partisanship continues to wrack Washington, DC, one area that can hopefully remain somewhat free of political wrangling is our national security – including homeland security. I was disappointed to see a hold placed on FEMA nominee Craig Fugate (which has since been lifted, and Fugate has been approved). And I was proud to join my fellow policy alum at DHS, Stewart Baker, to offer a letter of support and endorsement to President Obama and Secretary Napolitano’s choice to head DHS’s policy shop in the new Administration. As we outline below in a letter of support to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, we believe that David Heyman will prove to be an exceptional leader who will bring innovative ideas to the Department.

Moreover, we believe that his position should be elevated from Assistant Secretary to Undersecretary. A Department the size and scope of DHS needs an Undersecretary of Policy.

May 7,2009

The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman
Chaiman, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
340 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 205 10

The Honorable Susan M. Collins
Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
340 Dirksen Senate Olfice Building
Washington, D.C. 205 10

Dear Chairman Lieberman and Ranking Member Collins:

As former lead policy officials at the Department of Homeland Security, we fully support the nomination of David Heyman as the Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security for Policy. Mr. Heyman brings the experience, temperament, and creativity to fulfill the mission of the Office of Policy at DHS, and we urge that the Senate confirm him as expeditiously as possible.

When the Department of Homeland Security was created in 2003, one of its principal weaknesses was the absence of a robust policy office to craft and implement long-term policies to protect our country. DHS was rightly criticized for bouncing from crisis to crisis and creating more and more security requirements without considering how they all fit together and without setting priorities. As the Obama Administration inherits DHS, the Department finally has a Policy Directorate that is capable of the strategic thinking necessary to protect our safety, our rights, and our economy.

Starting with team of thirty focused on border and transportation security in 2005, the Office of Policy has grown to over 200 policy experts, the overwhelming percentage of which are career government officials. The office is the main interface for DHS with the Congress, the private sector, academia, and thought leaders, helping to address earlier complaints from those quarters about the disjointed nature of DHS. The team also manages the Department’s negotiations with foreign governments, an absolutely critical but sometimes overlooked part of the DHS agenda.

The DHS policy toolkit — budget priorities, regulatory, policy, negotiations, and thought leadership — are all now housed in the Office of Policy. This policy capability must continue to grow, especially as DHS undertakes the first DHS Quadrennial Review this year as part of its growing strategic planning capability. The operating agencies of DHS — U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, FEMA, etc., — can handle their in-the-field responsibilities to protect America. They deserve thoughtful,  forward-leaning policy development to prioritize their missions and find synergies not possible under separate chains of command. To achieve that goal, the Policy Office needs a strong, accomplished leader.

David Heyman is such a leader. We have worked with Mr. Heyman is his role directing the Homeland Security Program at the well-respected Center for Strategic and Intemational Studies since the creation of DHS in 2003. He has demonstrated a commitment to thoughtlul research and analysis on many of the issues facing DHS, including preparedness, bioterrorism, visa policy, engagement with foreign governments, balancing of security and international travel and trade, and how DHS interacts with other federal agencies, foreign governments, state and local govemments, the private sector, and other stakeholders. He will be able to hit the ground running upon confirmation.

As the Congress considers this nomination, we urge you to elevate the policy position to an Under Secretary level to enhance its credibility with other agencies and governments and help Congress consolidate its oversight of DHS. The vast responsibilities of the office and high profile require a leader with the appropriate designation of Under Secretary.

We appreciate your consideration of our endorsement of Mr. Heyman, and again urge his prompt confirmation by your Committee and the full Senate.

Stewart Baker
Former Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security for Policy
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Stewart Verdery
Former Assistant Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Policy and Planning
U.S. Department of Homeland Security