Chertoff Outlines Changes in Homeland Security Department
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 14, 2005 Following an internal review into operations, policies and structures, the nation's homeland security chief has laid out an agenda to more effectively achieve that department's mission.
In an address here July 13, Homeland Security Department Secretary Michael Chertoff said the Second Stage Review, which he launched shortly after taking office, was completed last month and has given the department some key areas to focus on in the future.
The department will first increase preparedness, with particular focus on catastrophic events, Chertoff said. The most notable change in this area is the creation of a Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, which will develop and deploy the next generation of systems to intercept nuclear threats. Steps have already been taken to create this office, he said.
The second area of focus Chertoff highlighted is strengthening border security and improving the immigration system. A new approach to controlling the border is being developed, using a mix of more staff, new technology and enhanced infrastructure investment, he said. At the same time, he's restructuring the immigration process to put security screening at the beginning rather than at the end. This will prevent a high rate of rejection late in the immigration process, he said.
Improving transportation security without sacrificing mobility is the third area DHS will focus on, Chertoff said. For the mass-transit system, advanced explosive-detection and biotechnology equipment is being developed to more quickly identify threats, he said. In the area of aviation security, a more precise passenger-identification system is being developed to limit delays for travelers.
enhancing information sharing with state and local governments and the private sector is the fourth area of focus, Chertoff said. He said he will be inviting every state homeland security adviser and every state emergency-management coordinator this week to meet with him about information-exchange protocols.
Improving DHS stewardship is the fifth area of focus, Chertoff said. The department is looking at ways to improve financial controls and systems and to consolidate the department's multiple crisis-management centers, he said. Also, the review yielded some specific recommendations for building a team organization within the department, he said.
The final area of focus is realigning the department's organization to maximize mission performance. Among the first changes will be creation of a Central Policy Office led by an undersecretary, Chertoff said.
Another change will be the designation of the assistant secretary for information analysis as DHS chief intelligence officer. This person will head a strengthened Information Analysis Division reporting directly to Chertoff and coordinating intelligence within the department.
Other changes within the department include the creation of a new director of operations coordination, the consolidation of the department's existing preparedness efforts into a single directorate led by an undersecretary, appointment of a chief medical officer within the Preparedness Directorate, and the creation of an assistant secretary for cyber and telecommunications security.
All these changes will be implemented using a balanced approach, Chertoff said. Security will be strengthened where it is needed and eliminated where it is not needed. For example, one security measure being eliminated is the post-Sept. 11 requirement that commercial airline passengers leaving or entering Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport remain seated for 30 minutes after departure and before arrival, he said.
DHS' future is an exciting one, with many opportunities, Chertoff said, and the importance of the role the department plays requires focus and determination.
"Change brings opportunity, and after a historic first two years, our young department continues to hold one of the most important and valued roles in government: the responsibility to protect the safety and security of our nation," he said.