Recently released information from the 9/11 Commission reveals that its original recommendation to condense and consolidate congressional oversight for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to be implemented. This leaves homeland security at risk and bound by its own committees.
In 2003, DHS was subject to oversight by 86 congressional committees and subcommittees. Today there are more than 108. Compare that to the 36 committees and subcommittees with oversight for the Department of Defense, which has a budget 10 times greater than DHS and millions more employees.
This unnecessary oversight causes conflicting answers to the same question and drains resources. DHS has repeatedly sought to remedy the excessive oversight. However, the problem lies with Congress and its power and influence struggles. This incessant fighting resembles schoolyard taunts and the race to be king of the hill.
Rather than continuing to waste DHS time and resources, Congress needs to condense its labyrinth of committees into an organized and effective machine for DHS—sooner rather than later. Consolidating the department’s oversight into six full committees (three in the House of Representatives and three in the Senate) would create uniformity. This would allow for succinct and direct oversight and guidance to the department, increasing the safety and security of the United States.
The acknowledgment of this unmanageable mess is a step in the right direction. However, Congress has a long way to go to prioritize and reconstruct its committees. In the wake of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the recent commission status report, it is evident that there are still far too many cooks in Homeland Security’s kitchen, and Congress is in no hurry to shuffle them out.