Time for Congress to Revisit Department of Homeland Security Structure

May 6, 2019

By: Vice Chairman John Cahill 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created in the aftermath of the September 1, 2001 attacks. Until legislation was developed, passed and signed, many of the nation’s security agencies were housed under different Departments. The United States Secret Service was a division of the Department of the Treasury, the Immigration and Nationalization Service was housed at the Department of Justice, the Coast Guard was the responsibility of the Department of Transportation, Customs and Border Protection responsibilities fell under the Treasury and the Federal Emergency Management Administration was essentially a quasi-Independent agency. Additionally, the Transportation Security Administration did not yet exist and security was the responsibility of the airlines with support and oversight by the FAA.

Given the recent and continually revolving leadership at DHS, it’s fair to ask whether the existing organization is the most effective method of administering the responsibilities of these sub-agencies. Volatile leadership from the Executive branch has clearly created external perceptions of unpredictability and, at times, chaos. Congress should revisit the act that created the Homeland Security Department and examine the efficiency of these sub-agencies.

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