The Homeland Security Act

The Homeland Security Act was signed in November 2002 and led to the establishment of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). A massive reorganization took place within federal agencies in order to increase national security. The creation of DHS constituted the biggest government reorganization in the American history. DHS was created by merging twenty-two agencies into a single organization. It has more than twenty thousand employees and an annual budget of roughly $50 billion. Today, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the United States Coast Guard (USCG), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the United States Secret Service are all under this single organization.

Since its establishment, DHS has overseen approximately $15 billion worth of failed contracts. The contracts were declared either overbudget, delayed, or canceled after millions of dollars had already been spent on them. According to the figures and documents prepared by the House Committee on Homeland Security, the projects ranged from airport baggage screening to equipment for Hurricane Katrina evacuees. DHS has been plagued by criticism over waste, poor management, and excessive bureaucracy. Eighty-six congressional committees have oversight of DHS and its critical government functions.

Which agencies do you consider as being important enough to be included under DHS? Why?

What functions do the remaining agencies have that are vital from the national security perspective?

Which bureaucratic and organizational issues will be resolved by making DHS smaller?

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