Washington, D.C. – According to a government report issued this week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been unable to effectively fulfill its mission when it comes to international activities due to a lack of coordination, leadership, and strategic planning. DHS’s wide array of international activities include developing relationships with international and foreign law enforcement agencies, better understanding globally critical infrastructure, protecting U.S. citizens from financial scams based outside the country, and prescreening cargo and people destined for the U.S., among many others.
“The mission of the Department of Homeland Security does not stop at our borders, but involves partnerships with countries around the world. For these partnerships to succeed, DHS must better coordinate the international activities of its component agencies and work more effectively within our embassies. I urge the Department to implement the Inspector General’s recommendations promptly,” said Chairman Joe Lieberman, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
“DHS’s international activities are vital to the department’s success and ultimately the safety and security of America,” said Sen. Collins, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “These activities support broader diplomatic efforts and foster greater exchange of information and technology used to fight terrorism. DHS has worked closely with other countries to screen cargo, investigate human trafficking cases, and pursue credit card scams that may support terrorist organizations. I find it very troubling that after more than five years, DHS’s Office of International Affairs continues to be lackluster in its coordination efforts and that the Department’s international activities lack a cohesive strategic plan.”
The report by the DHS Inspector General highlighted the Department’s inability to coordinate, plan, and leverage its extensive international activities. The report found that DHS has been unable to fulfill a number of its primary missions. Nearly 2,000 DHS officials across more than 18 components within the Department are stationed in 142 cities in 79 countries. Their work is bolstered by U.S. based staff that regularly travel abroad to support international activities. The numerous programs and staff are supposed to be overseen by a central planning and coordination office, DHS’s Office for International Affairs (OIA). According to the report, however, OIA has been unable to provide guidance, strategic planning, or training and technical assistance even after staff levels were increased.
In an effort to correct these failures, Senators Lieberman and Collins will use the 18 recommendations outlined by the IG’s report to develop legislation strengthening OIA and supporting the department’s international activities.