WASHINGTON –A panel of homeland security leaders told the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Thursday that stronger, more integrated management and operations at the Department of Homeland Security ranks high among the objectives the Department must accomplish to better fulfill its mission in the future.

At the second in a series of hearings looking at the past, present, and future of homeland security and DHS, two former Department leaders and a former Congresswoman with deep homeland security and intelligence experience said progress has been made in key areas but operational coordination, acquisition management, financial management, and IT management remains splintered among the 22 legacy agencies and offices that were incorporated into the Department when it was formed in 2003.

“As I look back, the Department has come an awfully long way in its first decade,” said Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Lieberman. “But this is a mission that has no final destination. It has to continue to get better. The Department still has a way to go to fully realize what we want it to be. So, in its second decade the Department of Homeland Security will have to be as agile as our enemies, and that may mean the Department will have to cut back in some of its traditional areas of responsibility if they seem less relevant to the threat and take that money and invest that money in programs to meet the new threats that come along.”

Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Maine said: “The changing threat landscape at home and abroad will require the Department to be nimble and imaginative, effective and efficient, qualities not often associated with large bureaucracies.  Yet the men and women of DHS can take pride in the absence of a successful large-scale attack on our country during the past decade and in the Department’s contributions to thwarting numerous terrorists’ plots”.  

Witnesses noted that the Department had made substantial progress in a number of respects, including international border screening, support for state and local fusion centers, and enlisting the general public in prevention via the See Something, Say Something program.

Witnesses included Jane Harman, Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Admiral Thad Allen, former Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard; and Richard Skinner, former DHS Inspector General and Chief Executive Officer of Richard Skinner Consulting.