#5: Interagency Cooperation, The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

Eight years after the September 11 attacks, Congress has enacted legislation in order to keep America safe. They created the Department of Homeland Security not just to integrate the activities of over two dozen agencies and programs, but also to lead a national effort of federal, state, and local government as well as nongovernmental organizations and the private sector.

Yet building a core of homeland security professionals— an important homeland security task has been left unaddressed.

Heritage expert Jim Carafano explains:

Homeland security is a new core competence of government. The professionals that lead the effort must have three essential skills:

  • Familiarity with a number of diverse security-related disciplines (such as health care, law enforcement, immigration, and trade) and practice in interagency operations, working with different government agencies, the private sector, and international partners;
  • Competence in crisis action and long-term strategic planning; and
  • A sound understanding of federalism, the free-market economy, constitutional rights, and international relations.

Today, however, few individuals in government have all of the skills needed to lead the homeland security enterprise.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga) also recognizes this problem. In his closing address to The Heritage Foundation’s Protect America Month, he said, “It is hard business to learn how to defend a nation. If we don’t invest in that among our [government] officials, they will not be able to make sophisticated decisions; and if they don’t [make sophisticated decisions], we will pay for it.”

“Five Things About Homeland Security That Nobody Is Discussing” is a series of posts discussing aspects of protecting the homeland. For a comprehensive look at the big picture in homeland security, enroll today in The Heritage Foundation’s Homeland Security University. Click here for details.