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United States Department of Homeland Security

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

United States Department of Homeland Security
Seal of the United States Department of Homeland Security.svg
Flag of the United States Department of Homeland Security.svg
Flag of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Nebraska Avenue Complex 2017b.jpg

Nebraska Avenue Complex, DHS headquarters
Agency overview
FormedNovember 25, 2002; 16 years ago (2002-11-25)
JurisdictionUnited States
HeadquartersNebraska Avenue Complex, Washington, D.C., U.S.
38°56′20″N 77°4′59″W / 38.93889°N 77.08306°W / 38.93889; -77.08306
Employees229,000 (2017) [1]
Annual budget$40.6 billion (2017)[2]
Agency executives
Child agencies

"The DHS March"

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a cabinet department of the United States federal government with responsibilities in public security, roughly comparable to the interior or home ministries of other countries. Its stated missions involve anti-terrorism, border security, immigration and customs, cyber security, and disaster prevention and management.[3] It was created in response to the September 11 attacks and is the youngest U.S. cabinet department.

In fiscal year 2017, it was allocated a net discretionary budget of $40.6 billion.[2] With more than 240,000 employees,[4] DHS is the third largest Cabinet department, after the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.[5] 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.

The former Secretary, John F. Kelly, was replaced by Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on December 5, 2017.[6]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • What Happens At Homeland Security?
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Border security, immigration, customs, terrorism, and cyber threats…all areas that need constant attention to ensure the safety and security of a country. America is known as the land of the free, but following the events of 9/11, safety is now arguably the value that sits top of the list for most US citizens, and security in America has been taken to a new level with increased airport safety procedures, strengthened border control, and new legislation being passed. So who drives this man effort and what are the processes and procedures that ensure people are safe and secure? Let’s find out, in this episode of The Infographics Show: What Is The Role of Homeland Security? On September 20, 2001, in response to the tragic 9-11 attacks, President George W. Bush proposed the creation of the Office of Homeland Security. The office was created the following month. Then in 2002, The President announced his plans to create the Department of Homeland Security or DHS. Today this cabinet has more than 240,000 employees and is the third largest Cabinet department in the United States government. The National Strategy for Homeland Security defines their approach as a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur. Funding for homeland security has risen from $16 billion in 2001 to $71.6 billion in 2018. The department is responsible for public security, such as anti-terrorism, border security, immigration and customs, cyber security, and disaster prevention and management. There are 6 key focus areas. Let’s take a look. 1. Intelligence and Warning – Terrorists depend on surprise. Without it, they are unable to create the severe carnage their attacks are designed to cause. DHS understands that intelligence is an integral component of the overall effort to reduce the nations’ vulnerability to terrorism. Solid intelligence coupled with warning systems that are capable of detecting a terrorist event before it happens, is a sure way to minimize the risk of an attack. DHS also has a number of strategic initiatives to support their mission with intelligence and warning. These include working with the FBI to hire intelligence analysts with specialized expertise, such as computer skills, foreign language capacity, and science and engineering backgrounds, and also using "red team" techniques to improve the department’s capability of detecting terrorism. This is achieved by DHS staff who are responsible for viewing the United States through the eyes of the terrorists, to help discern methods, and decipher targets they are planning to strike. 2. Border and Transportation Security – America’s borders total 7,000 miles of land with Canada and Mexico, as well as coastlines, lakes and rivers which also fall under DHS’s jurisdiction. Monitoring these areas 24 hours a day, is essential to reduce the illegal movement of people, drugs, weapons, and contraband. DHS secures America’s borders through the deployment of technology, infrastructure and personnel, and by working closely with Mexico and Canada and other state and territory partners. Some achievements since the creation of DHS, include a 53 percent reduction in illegal immigration attempts during the past three years, and along the Southwest border, there have been 41 percent more drugs seized, 74 percent more currency seized, and 159 percent more weapons seized compared to years from 2006 to 2008. 3. Domestic Counterterrorism – Terrorism is top of the priority list for DHS. It’s the reason the department was created, and terrorists continue to evolve with the way they plan their attacks. The department must stay a head of the game by understanding the many ways an attack can now be carried out. Whether biological, chemical, radiological, nuclear or cyber attacks...The reach of the Internet has also fueled the growth of “homegrown” extremism, where individuals based in the United States are recruited online. And since 9/11, initiatives with Homeland Security have seen the FBI handed far larger budgets to help fight and prevent terrorist attacks. Law enforcement officials now have better tools, including roving wiretaps and the authority to seize assets to help end financial counterfeiting, smuggling and money-laundering. And Judges are able to pass higher sentences when convicting individuals of terrorism. 4. Protecting Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets - Critical infrastructure refers to things such as the power in our homes, drinking water, public transport, shops and communication systems – all areas that assist in the daily functioning of American society. When DHS was created, it was assigned the responsibility of coordinating measures to strengthen and protect these areas. In total, there are 16 critical infrastructure sectors that are considered vital to the United States, because if they are compromised in any way, the result would have a debilitating effect on security and national public health and safety. These 16 areas are: chemical, commercial, communications, manufacturing, dams; defense; emergency services; energy; financial services; food and agriculture; government facilities; healthcare and public health; information technology; nuclear reactors, materials and waste; transportation systems; water and wastewater. Since the private sector owns an estimated 85 percent of all critical infrastructure in America, private sector partnerships have developed to ensure the success of Homeland Security in areas such as vulnerability assessments, determining criticality, and other activities associated with critical infrastructure protection. 5. Defending Against Catastrophic Threats – The technology, expertise and material needed to build deadly weapons is more readily available today than it has ever been, and so there is a far higher probability of a terrorist or enemy country using chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons on the US. An event which would have catastrophic results - Mass casualties far beyond that of 9/11, social and economic disruption, and long-term contamination, would cause a devastating amount of instability within the country. The department has deployed inspection and detection procedures to ensure materials are unable to enter the country through ports, and the Department of Defense works with foreign countries who have nuclear programs to ensure continued strict security for the global inventory of nuclear weapons. 6. Emergency Preparedness and Response – DHS also reacts to natural disasters that impact millions of Americans every year. The Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA, is a team within The Department, helping communities reduce their risk, supporting emergency services prepare for accidents and natural disasters, and helping people to get back to normal when their lives are turned upside down by a disaster. When Hurricane Irma, a Category 3 storm with winds of 135 miles per hour, hit Florida last year, Homeland Security was responsible for coordinating the response. This included federal teams, and voluntary agencies staffing emergency shelters, providing food and water, and offering comfort. Since inception in 2002, the Department of Homeland Security has absorbed Immigration and assumed all border safety and security responsibilities. It manages all aspects of domestic security to ensure Americans are safe and that the threat of another major terrorist attack, is greatly reduced. So, do you think America is a safer place since the introduction of these Homeland Security strategies? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video called FBI vs CIA. Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!.



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

Whereas 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.[7] On March 1, 2003, DHS absorbed the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) 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.


The Department of Homeland Security is headed by the Secretary of Homeland Security with the assistance of the Deputy Secretary. The department contains the components listed below.[8]

Subordinate agency Title of head or leader Incumbent
Citizenship & Immigration Services Ombudsman Director Julie Kirchner
Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office Assistant Secretary James F. McDonnell
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long
Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers Director Thomas J. Walters[9]
Federal Protective Service Director Eric L. Patterson
Management Directorate Under Secretary Claire Grady
National Protection and Programs Directorate Acting Under Secretary Christopher Krebs
Office for Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Officer Cameron Quinn
Office of General Counsel Acting General Counsel Joseph Maher
Office of Intelligence and Analysis Under Secretary David Glawe
Office of Legislative Affairs Acting Assistant Secretary David Wonnenberg
Office of Operations Coordination Director Richard M. Chávez[10]
Office of Partnership & Engagement Acting Assistant Secretary John Barsa
Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans Acting Under Secretary Ambassador James D. Nealon
Office of Public Affairs Assistant Secretary Jonathan Rath Hoffman
Office of the Inspector General Acting Inspector General John V. Kelly
Privacy Office Chief Privacy Officer/Chief FOIA Officer Philip S. Kaplan
Science & Technology Directorate Acting Under Secretary William Bryan
Transportation Security Administration Administrator David Pekoske
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Lee Cissna
United States Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl L. Schultz[11]
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan[12]
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Ronald Vitiello[13]
United States Secret Service Director Randolph Alles[14]
  1. An agency that enforces U.S. laws while it investigates and gathers intelligence on national and international criminal activities that threaten the security of the homeland (Homeland Security Investigations); and
  2. An agency that investigates violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act and enforces the detention, deportation, and removal of violators of United States immigration law (Enforcement and Removal Operations).
  1. Investigative Mission – The investigative mission of the USSS is to safeguard the payment and financial systems of the United States from a wide range of financial and electronic-based crimes.
  2. Protective Mission – The protective mission of the USSS is to ensure the safety of the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, their immediate families, and foreign heads of state.

(Passports for U.S. citizens are issued by the United States Department of State, not the Department of Homeland Security.)

Advisory groups:

  • Homeland Security Advisory Council: State and local government, first responders, private sector, and academics
  • National Infrastructure Advisory Council: Advises on security of public and private information systems
  • Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee: Advise the Under Secretary for Science and Technology.
  • Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council: Coordinate infrastructure protection with private sector and other levels of government
  • Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities
  • Task Force on New Americans: "An inter-agency effort to help immigrants learn English, embrace the common core of American civic culture, and become fully American."

Other components:

In an August 5, 2002 speech, President Bush said: "We are fighting [...] to secure freedom in the homeland."[16] Prior to the creation of DHS, U.S. Presidents had referred to the U.S. as "the nation" or "the republic" and to its internal policies as "domestic".[17] Also unprecedented was the use, from 2002, of the phrase "the homeland" by White House spokespeople.[17]

National Terrorism Advisory System

In 2011, the Department of Homeland Security phased out the old Homeland Security Advisory System, replacing it with a two-level National Terrorism Advisory System. The system has two types of advisories: Alerts and Bulletins. NTAS Bulletins permit the secretary to communicate critical terrorism information that, while not necessarily indicative of a specific threat against the United States, can reach homeland security partners or the public quickly, thereby allowing recipients to implement necessary protective measures. Alerts are issued when there is specific and credible information of a terrorist threat against the United States. Alerts themselves have two levels: Elevated and Imminent. An Elevated Alert is issued when there is credible information about an attack but only general information about timing or a target. An Imminent Alert is issued when the threat is very specific and impending in the very near term.

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 into 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.[18]

In January 2003, the office[clarification needed] 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.[19]

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'.[20]



Seal of the Office of Homeland Security, the predecessor to DHS
Seal of the Office of Homeland Security, the predecessor to DHS
A video released in 2016 by the DHS, detailing its duties and responsibilities.

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.[19]

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

According to Peter Andreas, a border theorist, the creation of DHS constituted the most significant government reorganization since the Cold War,[21] 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.[22]

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. The following 22 agencies were incorporated into the new department:[23]

Original agency Original department New agency or office after transfer
U.S. Customs Service Treasury U.S. Customs and Border Protection
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
Federal Protective Service General Services Administration National Protection and Programs Directorate
Transportation Security Administration Transportation Transportation Security Administration
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center Treasury Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Agriculture U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Federal Emergency Management Agency none Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Strategic National Stockpile
National Disaster Medical System
Health and Human Services Returned to HHS, July, 2004
Nuclear Incident Response Team Energy Responsibilities distributed within FEMA
Domestic Emergency Support Team Justice Responsibilities distributed within FEMA
Center for Domestic Preparedness Justice (FBI) Responsibilities distributed within FEMA
CBRN Countermeasures Programs Energy Science & Technology Directorate
Environmental Measurements Laboratory Energy Science & Technology Directorate
National Biological Warfare
Defense Analysis Center
Defense Science & Technology Directorate
Plum Island Animal Disease Center Agriculture Science & Technology Directorate
Federal Computer Incident Response Center General Services Administration US-CERT, Office of Cybersecurity and Communications
National Programs and Predaredness Directorate
National Communications System Defense Office of Cybersecurity and Communications
National Programs and Predaredness Directorate
National Infrastructure Protection Center Justice (FBI) Office of Operations Coordination
Office of Infrastructure Protection
Energy Security and Assurance Program Energy Office of Infrastructure Protection
U.S. Coast Guard Transportation U.S. Coast Guard
U.S. Secret Service Treasury U.S. Secret Service

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 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.[24] In 2002, Bush officials argued that the September 11 attacks made the proposed elimination of employee protections imperative.[25]

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.[19]

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

Changes under Michael Chertoff

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.[19]

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."[25]

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.[25]

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.[25] DHS announced in early 2007 that it was retooling its pay and performance system and retiring the name "MaxHR".[19]

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.[25]

Changes under Kirstjen Nielsen

On November 16, 2018, President Trump signed into law the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2018, which elevated the mission of the former-DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) within DHS and established the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).[26]


Seal of the Department of Homeland Security.
Seal of the Department of Homeland Security.

A DHS press release dated June 6, 2003[27] explains 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.


Nebraska Avenue Complex in 2016.
Nebraska Avenue Complex in 2016.

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.[28] 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 would begin moving to St. Elizabeths is 2012.[29]

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.[30] Community activists have criticized the plans because the facility will remain walled off and have little interaction with the surrounding area.[31] 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.[32] In February 2015 the General Services Administration said that the site would open in 2021.[33]

Disaster preparedness and response

Congressional budgeting effects

During a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the reauthorization of DHS, Elaine Duke, deputy secretary of DHS, said there is a weariness and anxiety within DHS about the repeated congressional efforts to agree to a long-term spending plan, which has resulted in several threats to shutdown the federal government. "Shutdowns are disruptive," Duke said. She said the "repeated failure on a longtime spending plan resulting in short-term continuing resolutions (CRs) has caused "angst" among the department's 240,000 employees in the weeks leading up to the CRs."[34] The uncertainty about funding hampers DHS's ability to pursue major projects and it takes away attention and manpower from important priorities. Seventy percent of DHS employees are considered essential and are not furloughed during government shutdowns.[34] program logo program logo

Soon after the formation of Department of Homeland Security, the department worked with the Ad Council to launch the Ready Campaign, a national public service advertising (PSA) campaign to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural and man-made disasters. With pro bono creative support from the Martin Agency of Richmond, Virginia, the campaign website "" and materials were conceived in March 2002 and launched in February 2003, just before the launch of the Iraq War.[35][36][37] 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.[38][39] As a result, the sales of duct tape skyrocketed and DHS was criticized for being too alarmist.[40]

On March 1, 2003, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was absorbed into the DHS, and in fall of 2008, took over coordination of the campaign. The Ready Campaign and its Spanish language version asks individuals to do three things: build an emergency supply kit,[41] make a family emergency plan[42] and be informed about the different types of emergencies that can occur and how to respond.[43] The campaign messages have been promoted through television, radio, print, outdoor and web PSAs,[44] as well as brochures, toll-free phone lines and the English and Spanish language websites and

The general campaign aims to reach all Americans, but targeted resources are also available via "Ready Business" for small- to medium-sized business and "Ready Kids" for parents and teachers of children ages 8–12. In 2015, the campaign also launched a series of PSAs to help the whole community,[45] people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs prepare for emergencies, which included open captioning, a certified deaf interpreter and audio descriptions for viewers who are blind or have low vision.[46]

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.

Surge Capacity Force

The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act directs the DHS Secretary to designate employees from throughout the department to staff a Surge Capacity Force (SCF). During a declared disaster, the DHS Secretary will determine if SCF support is necessary. The secretary will then authorize FEMA to task and deploy designated personnel from DHS components and other Federal Executive Agencies to respond to extraordinary disasters.[47]


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.[48][49] 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.[49] 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.[50]

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.[51]

In January 2017, DHS officially designated state-run election systems as critical infrastructure. The designation made it easier for state and local election officials to get cybersecurity help from the federal government. In October 2017, DHS convened a Government Coordinating Council (GCC) for the Election Infrastructure Subsection with representatives from various state and federal agencies such as the Election Assistance Commission and National Association of Secretaries of State.[52]


In the United States Federal Budget for 2010, entitled 'A New Era of Responsibility', the DHS was allocated a discretionary budget of $42.7 billion (financial year 2009: $40.1 billion).[53] The end-of-year DHS Annual Financial Report for financial year 2010 showed a net cost of operations of $56.4 billion (FY 2009, restated: $49.9 billion), out of total budgetary resources of $83.2 billion (FY 2009, restated: $85.2 billion).[54] The components with the highest net cost were US Coast Guard ($12.1 billion), U.S. Customs and Border Protection ($11.6 billion), and Federal Emergency Management Agency ($10.5 billion).[54] Revenues of $10.4 billion were generated in the year (FY 2009, restated: $9.8 billion).[54]

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."[55]

Audit of expenditures

The DHS independent auditor is KPMG, one of the Big Four audit firms.[56] Due to the level of material weaknesses identified, KPMG was unable to audit the DHS financial statements for FY 2010.[56] KPMG was unable to express an audit opinion on the FY 2009,[57] FY 2008,[58] FY 2007,[59] FY 2005,[60] and FY 2003[61] financial statements. Attempts to access the reports for FY 2006 and FY 2004 within the 'information for citizens' portal met with a 404 error.[62] 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."[63] 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."[63] 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."[64]


The Department of Homeland Security has received substantial criticism over excessive bureaucracy, waste, fraud, ineffectiveness and lack of transparency. Its information sharing centers have been accused of violating American civil liberties and targeting American citizens as potential threats to national security.

Excess, waste, and ineffectiveness

The Department of Homeland Security has been dogged by persistent criticism over excessive bureaucracy, waste, ineffectiveness and lack of transparency. Congress estimates that the department has wasted roughly $15 billion in failed contracts (as of September 2008).[65] 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 bachelor, masters, and doctorate computer science degrees through Hamilton University, a diploma mill in a small town in Wyoming.[66] 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".[67][68][69][70]

A 2015 inspection of IT infrastructure found that the department was running over a hundred computer systems whose owners were unknown, including Secret and Top Secret databases, many with out of date security or weak passwords. Basic security reviews were absent, and the department had apparently made deliberate attempts to delay publication of information about the flaws.[71]

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 internal Inspector General found that pilot testing of the system had been performed using data on real people without required privacy safeguards in place.[72][73] The system, in development at Lawrence Livermore and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory since 2003, has cost the agency $42 million to date. Controversy over the program is not new; 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." Homeland Security's Inspector General later said that ADVISE was poorly planned, time-consuming for analysts to use, and lacked adequate justifications.[74]

Fusion centers

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.[75][76]

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.[77] 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.[78]

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 ...[79]

MIAC report

The Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) made news in 2009 for targeting supporters of third party candidates (such as Ron Paul), pro-life activists, and conspiracy theorists as potential militia members.[80] Anti-war activists and Islamic lobby groups were targeted in Texas, drawing criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union.[81]

According to the Department of Homeland Security:[82]

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
  7. Mission Creep

2009 Virginia terrorism threat assessment

In 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.[83] The report targeted historically black colleges and identified hacktivism as a form of terrorism.[84]

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."[85] The letter was sent by a devout Catholic Filipino woman with no history of supporting Islamic terrorism.[85] 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.[85]

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.[85]

Goodman's story provoked outrage in the blogosphere,[86] as well as in the more established media. Reacting to the incident, Mother Jones remarked that "[u]nlike other prying government agencies, Homeland Security wants you to know it is watching you."[87] CNN observed that "[o]n the heels of the NSA wiretapping controversy, Goodman's letter raises more concern over the balance between privacy and security."[88]

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.[89][90]

DHS is the only large federal agency to score below 50% in overall survey rankings. It was last of large federal agencies in 2014 with 44.0% and fell even lower in 2015 at 43.1%, again last place.[91]

Freedom of Information Act processing performance

In the Center for Effective Government analysis of 15 federal agencies which receive the most Freedom of Information Act FOIA requests, published in 2015 (using 2012 and 2013 data), the Department of Homeland Security earned a D by scoring 69 out of a possible 100 points, i.e. did not earn a satisfactory overall grade. It also had not updated its FOIA policies since the 2007 FOIA amendments.[92]

Fourteen Words slogan and "88" reference

In 2018, the DHS was accused of referencing the white supremacist Fourteen Words slogan in an official document, by using a similar fourteen-worded title, in relation to illegal immigration and border control:[93]

We Must Secure The Border And Build The Wall To Make America Safe Again.[94]

Although dismissed by the DHS as a coincidence, both the use of "88" in a document, and the similarity to the slogan's phrasing ("We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children"), drew criticism and controversy from several media outlets.[95][96]

See also


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External links

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