A Plan for the Restructuring of the Department of Homeland Security

A Plan for the Restructuring of the Department of Homeland Security: The Need to Improve DHS’s Effectiveness

Danielle Trevant


3 October 2016

Kaplan University


A plan to restructure DHS is in the works, The President of the United States (POTUS) will be advised of the recommendations that would be made to better integrate the different intelligence and homeland security agencies with the goal of creating more useful and actionable information. Although the POTUS believes that DHS is fine as it is, that restructuring DHS violates human rights in the future, DHS needs to be restructured to become more impactful in building the effectiveness that would deter terrorism.


Terrorism has been an issue for decades now and is most certainly on a growth spurt the past few years. As criminals terrorize in the name of religion, wars, anger, depression and much more, America is left in the aftermath struggling to pick up the pieces and wondering how to deter the next attack. Terrorist behavior has been studied for years and so has methods of deterrence, from adding the presence of metal detectors at airports to placing marshals on planes reduced skyjackings by half annually (Landes, 1977, p. 31). Knowing terrorist trends is the first step in attempting to begin to visit methods of deterring terrorism; policies are set forth based on these threats as well as the response to them. POTUS is aware that there may be some issues within DHS but he is also content with the way things are going and the current structure of the agency. It will be a mission to advise the POTUS on the benefits and recommendations that exist to better integrate the different agencies within intelligence and homeland security however, there will be use of critical functional areas that will be used as a basis to start the recommendations.

Advising POTUS on the various tactics to prevent and deter terrorism will enable him to come to the realization that there is in fact room for improvement at DHS and the restructure should take place immediately (“Creation of the Department of Homeland Security | Homeland Security,” 2015). Historically the DHS was created through the integration of 22 agencies in order to become a more effective entity in confronting the ongoing threats that continued to plague the U.S. Several modifications came into play after the creation of DHS from several acts being implemented to change of commands, recommendations al while evaluating the results of

those modifications and changes. The restructuring of DHS is necessary due to the fact that the organization the way DHS is affects DHS’s ability to lead the country’s homeland security efforts. DHS is not only missing the required structure for strategic operations and thinking but also missing the capacity to be organized without turf wars and other issues that can lead to more vulnerability within the agency.

Critical Organizational Structure Issues of DHS

History of DHS

  1. Strengthening and Fusion of Actionable Intelligence Information– reassessing the way policies are being handled was said to be one of the main conditions that required restructuring. Bringing in an individual whose main focus was to be the undersecretary of policy would fix some of the major issues that DHS is having with effectiveness (“DHS 2.0: Rethinking the Department of Homeland Security,” 2004). Assessing whether or not current policies are effective on a regular basis would ensure growth and efficiencies.
  2. Deterrence and Prevention – The United States believes that establishing political will and cooperation in alliance with countries that choose to partake in the acts of robbing the terrorists of the conditions that would steer them towards a path of violence and spreading ideology that is not conducive to positivity and well-being (“Preventing Terrorism: Strategies and Policies To Prevent and Combat Transnational Threats,” 2010). Many characterize the current deterrence policies as reminiscent of the Cold War generation, simply waiting for the next horrible security threat to occur but the current method of doing things is what DHS has been using for quite some time.
  3. Protection and Hardening of Targets – As Americans retaliate against terrorists and their respective countries; America fails to realize that many of these terrorists are willing to die for what their beliefs are. Advising POTUS on recommendations and brain storming ideas on what DHS could possibly do to circumvent situations like that.
  4. Response and Recovery Attacks and Disasters – Each year Americans lose billions in property and lives through disasters and threats, FEMA a major unit at DHS assists in responding and recovering as well as aspects of rebuilding. The recommendation would be made to POTUS to possibly have FEMA become a stand-alone agency so that FEMA may be able to better assist in these disasters. Allowing FEMA to remain a part of DHS and having to share budgets and resources with other agencies within DHS would continue to cause problems in the long run (“Disaster Response and Recovery | Homeland Security,” 2016). FEMA’s obligations are far greater than many of the other integrated agencies at DHS, while coordinating logistical and federal operations to help communities during the time of need, their policies and guidelines should not be shared with other agencies under one umbrella.
  5. Improved Cost Efficiencies within DHS – By separating FEMA from DHS, in essence, disintegrating them would allow for improved cost efficiencies within DHS. FEMA having a budget of their own that they would not have to divvy up amongst other agencies within the organization would enable FEMA to be able to do way more than the agency could amongst a pool of other neighboring agencies.

DHS was created in response to the September 11 attacks that occurred in 2001; the agency was supposed to be a federal organization that served as integrated entity. The merging of 22 disparate agencies incorporated into DHS enables everyone to work under one agency with an umbrella of guidelines and policies to become a more effective source to help protect the homeland. Increasing security at borders and providing more secure methods or approaching ongoing threats to the homeland is what these agencies do together as one team, leaving little room for error and misunderstandings in regards to which agency is responsible for what.

The absorption of FEMA into DHS was a convenient plan but emphasized the cracks in the surface of an already fragile DHS agency. POTUS would be able to view the decline in the capacity that took place once this integration took place via failures of initiative from the nation’s largest hurricane Katrina (Homeland Security Act, 2002). The integration severed FEMA’s ability to respond quickly to disasters without going through various red tapes and buckets of policies that may or may not even apply to them or that particular disaster. Over the past few decades, FEMA has shifted from disaster management to nuclear preparedness to a slew of other hazards which over time were also absorbed by DHS.

Over the years during the 90’s FEMA continued to go through various shifts, responding to over 500 major disasters that included emergency related events. Two disaster events were terrorism related and caused quite the stir between DHS and FEMA in terms of jurisdiction and

who should handle what. The cause and confusion soon ended after 9/11 occurred and the integration of agencies began. When it comes down to rescue efforts and support, victims should not have to be concerned with the politics that are occurring behind closed doors with these agencies, they should be focused on being safe and obtaining aid for their loved ones and basically staying alive.

The Proposal

The recommendation would be made to POTUS to allow FEMA to become once again an independent agency that allowed the organization to operate under their own policies and abilities enabling them to know and utilize exactly what resources they need to succeed (Lehrer, 2004). The importance in this lies in the public’s realization that this organization that is designed to help them in what seemingly might be the worst days of their lives through disaster needs help themselves. Major recommendations would be made to POTUS to restructure the agencies within DHS that have missions that may appear to be overlapping so that resources can be better utilized and not seem so redundant. Eliminating the middle men as well as reporting requirements from the various integrated agencies would serve as a form of empowerment for the agency.

After hurricane Katrina, everyone can admit that the public’s opinion and trust in FEMA have not only diminished but come to a standstill and it took years to reinstall that trust in fellow Americans. Examining the relationship between DHS and FEMA since the integration is very necessary in order to establish where there can be room for improvement notably the separation of the two. The ultimate test will be to examine FEMA’s response time while under DHS as well

as during the time they were an independent agency to see the difference in operation. Conducting a study group and reviewing the variable included will help paint a better picture for POTUS to understand the extent of why this restructuring is necessary. Included in this study will be the public opinion data that will show various surveys that were administered to obtain detailed information on how the public feels FEMA has and should operate. Included in these surveys and studies will be members within the community, adults, students as well as federal and private employees. Results from these surveys will be presented to POTUS to compare and contrast the effectiveness of DHS with and without FEMA integrated into it.   As an advisor to the President of the United States, recommendations to improve emergency response include community preparedness and disaster recovery. Community preparedness is one of many important aspects of emergency response, (Lindell & Perry, 2008). By prompting the community to be prepared in the event of a disaster, responding is thus more likely to become easier for emergency personnel, allowing them to focus on other problems first. Because of this, establishing emergency preparedness guidelines for the community, and encouraging citizens to implement them into their everyday lives, is an essential first step towards being prepared for disaster. POTUS would be advised that the teams onboard were working on a plan to aid the community in becoming more proactive in emergency management and response.

In conclusion, America, land of the free needs a DHS that is well formatted and equipped to protect the homeland as well as the freedoms Americans have fought so hard to maintain. The focus needs to be on that and those threats while allowing FEMA to focus solely on helping rebuild, recover and restore order after those threats and disasters. Without the added drama and hassle of being a part of a one-stop shop like DHS, FEMA has a better chance of success overall and America needs that reassurance.


Creation of the Department of Homeland Security | Homeland Security. (2015, September 15). Retrieved from https://www.dhs.gov/creation-department-homeland-security

DHS 2.0: Rethinking the Department of Homeland Security. (2004, December 13). Retrieved from http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2004/12/dhs-20-rethinking-the-department-of-homeland-security

Disaster Response and Recovery | Homeland Security. (2016, July 7). Retrieved from https://www.dhs.gov/topic/disaster-response-and-recovery

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Policies | FEMA.gov. (2016, May 20). Retrieved from https://www.fema.gov/policies

SUBCOMMITTEE ON EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS, PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE. (2009, March 17). Retrieved from https://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/TM/OIGtm_RLS_031709.pdf

FEMA.gov | Federal Emergency Management Agency. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.fema.gov

Landes, W. (1977). An Economic Study of U.S. Aircraft Hijacking, 1960-1976. doi:10.3386/w0210

National Incident Management System | FEMA.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.fema.gov/nims

Preventing Terrorism: Strategies and Policies to Prevent and Combat Transnational Threats. (2010, October 14). Retrieved from http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/rm/2010/150068.htm

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