DHS Secretary Napolitano visits UW–Madison; launches new web site for international students and exchange visitors Today, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano deliver remarks at UW–Madison highlighting innovative ways to encourage the best and brightest international students and scholars to study and remain in the U.S. and launched a new government website (studyinthestates.dhs.gov) […]
During Secretary Napolitano’s first appearance before the House Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA) performed an important service. He pointed out that legalistic “one size fits all” homeland security requirements don’t make sense. Rigid compliance enforced without exception and not viewed through the lens of common sense can sap the credibility of DHS in the eyes of the American public and at the same time fail to enhance security.
While simmering beneath the surface since the inception of DHS, this debate over FEMA’s location bubbled over recently when raised publicly by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. The congressional tug-of-war that continues over jurisdiction paralyzes DHS with organizational uncertainty. Until the agency settles and becomes familiar with an established organizational chart, it will not effectively and efficiently serve the American people.
FEMA can only be moved out by legislative fiat and it is unlikely that any bill would clear all the hurdles to get to the president’s desk as a stand alone measure. That means it would have to go in omnibus legislation. Leadership likely won’t do that without a go ahead from 1600 Pennsylvania.
As the honeymoon period for the new Administration fades, so too does the ability to avoid the proverbial third rail called immigration. The decision to further postpone implementation of the E-Verify rule marks one of the first decisions regarding immigration that the Obama Administration has taken.
Today’s New York Times features a letter to editor from the US Senate’s Homeland Security Dynamic Duo, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I/D-CT) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) responding to the New York Times November 24th editorial calling for the removal of FEMA from DHS. As the Chair and Ranking Member of the US Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs the two have formed one of the most productive and cooperative relationships in Congress.
The governor’s resume and achievements are nothing short of impressive. She should use her credibility and standing to (1) resist reorganizing DHS simply to make a statement and (2) demand that Congress address the jumble of 80-plus oversight committees.
The list narrows with admittedly long-shot olive-branch choice Joe Lieberman maintaining his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and Eric Holder allegedly slotted for Attorney General, bumping Janet Napolitano off the DOJ short list and moving her up on the DHS nominee list. However, a new name has suddenly surfaced in celebrity host Ryan Seacrest.
The Government Accountability Office’s homeland security division has gathered a number of its broad issue area reviews as a transition guide, covering topics like border security and transportation security. I’ve found that their work – essentially that of the two individuals I seem to encounter the most, Cathleen Berrick and Richard Stana – to be very fair and insightful. In particular, the GAO reports usually provide a reasonable view of DHS tries to balance the desire to fill security weaknesses with the pushback it gets from private industry, privacy think tanks, and foreign governments. It will be particularly interesting to see how Congressional Democrats – who have used GAO to identify areas where DHS has not been able to meet its own stated program goals or Congressionally-mandated legal requirements to tee up oversight hearings – manage GAO’s oversight of the department now that it will be under their own party’s control.
Late last week, the Coast Guard announced that DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff had rescinded the service’s acquisition authority, per the DHS 2009 appropriations bill. The removal of such authority from one DHS component, combined with the upcoming transition to a new Administration, provides an interesting opportunity to think through whether DHS components (the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Secret Service) could benefit from more centralized acquisition.