WASHINGTON – Citing a lack of accountability and focus in the current national homeland security strategy, Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Wednesday introduced legislation calling for a comprehensive new plan that identifies strategic goals, creates standards of accountability and outlines organizational roles and responsibilities.
“When we created the Department of Homeland Security, we knew that in addition to creating a better organization we would need to lay out a clear roadmap to galvanize our homeland defenses—at all levels of government and the private sector,” Lieberman said. “This is what many of us called for and, regretfully, it is something this nation still sorely lacks.” Based on principles set forth in a February General Accounting Office report, the bill would require the strategy to include risk assessments and concrete milestones to help set priorities and measure progress. The well-regarded Gilmore Commission on terrorism has also called for a stronger homeland strategy with clearer priorities. The legislation also would require the strategy to address information sharing among all levels of government and the private sector, the ability of health care professionals to detect and respond to attacks, and hazard preparedness in the public and private sectors. The legislation also calls for an independent panel, the Homeland Security Commission, consisting of nine experts appointed to review the strategy and offer alternative perspectives and solutions. “This Commission can help ensure that we marshal all the best ideas to defend our homeland and do not fall into complacent, or narrow ways of thinking about the threats we face,” Lieberman said. “We know that terrorists are always adapting their strategies and techniques. We must do no less.” Other requirements include: clear definitions of organizational roles and responsibilities, including the proper roles of state, local, private, and international actors, as well as clarification of the relationship between the homeland security strategy and other federal strategies regarding terrorist threats. “As we face ongoing, and indeed heightened, threats of terrorist attacks on our homeland, we need not be intimidated, but we must be prepared, “Lieberman said. “ A new and more forceful national strategy will energize and organize our resources—at all levels of government and within the private sector—to meet this threat.”