Task Force Highlights Need To Consolidate Oversight Of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON,   Nearly a decade after the 9/11 Commission issued its report on the greatest act of terrorism on U.S. soil, one of its most significant recommendations has not been acted upon. The need to consolidate Congressional oversight of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is, in the words of Commission co-chair Thomas H. Kean, “maybe the toughest recommendation” because Congress does not usually reform itself.

 

The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands and the Aspen Institute Justice & Society Program convened a task force (listed below) of distinguished current and former members of Congress, executive branch and DHS officials, and other homeland security experts to review this recommendation and recommend a strategy going forward.

 

In its powerful new report released today, the task force warns, “While the failure to reform DHS oversight may be invisible to the public, it is not without consequence or risk. Fragmented jurisdiction impedes DHS’ ability to deal with three major vulnerabilities: the threats posed by small aircraft and boats; cyberattacks; and biological weapons.”

 

Specific recommendations of the Sunnylands-Aspen Institute task force include:

  • DHS should have an oversight structure similar to other critical departments, such as Defense and Justice.
  • Congressional committees with jurisdiction over DHS should have overlapping membership.
  • DHS should have an authorization bill giving the department clear direction from Congress.

 

The full report and video interviews with task force members, are available online at www.sunnylands.org. The report may also be downloaded at www.aspeninstitute.org or www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org. Printed copies are free and available on request.

 

Membership of the Task Force on Streamlining and Consolidating Congressional Oversight of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security includes Arif Alikhan, Thad Allen, Howard Berman, Michael Chertoff,David Dreier, Bob Graham, Lee H. Hamilton, Juliette Kayyem, Thomas H. Kean Sr., Rep. Loretta Sanchez, John Tanner, Caryn A. Wagner, and Kenneth L. Wainstein. Meryl Justin Chertoff and Kathleen Hall Jamieson coordinated the work of the task force.

 

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