WASHINGTON –Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Wednesday told a top Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official that DHS’s long range strategic plans, while helpful in setting the Department’s top-level priorities, were too broad and unspecific.

            At a hearing to examine those plans, known as the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) and the Bottom-Up Review (BUR), the two Senators sought additional detail regarding DHS’s goals and the means by which it would achieve them.

“I believe that the QHSR and the BUR have the potential to be the catalyst for ongoing transformation and improvement at DHS, as well as across our entire homeland security community,” Lieberman said. “These documents provide a broad narrative of the Department’s key missions and its goals for improving those missions, although the narrative is too broad and the goals too vague. I hope the Deputy Secretary will develop them more today and in follow on documents. There has been a lot of growth in homeland security since 9/11 and it’s happened quickly – which was necessary – but we can’t just let the machine operate without control from the Executive Branch and oversight from the Legislative Branch. We need to be sure we are spending taxpayer dollars in a cost effective way.”

            Collins said: “As has been stated many times, if you try to protect everything, you end up protecting nothing. So, it is incumbent upon the Department – particularly when budgets are tight – to set detailed priorities to improve the preparedness and security of our nation. While I appreciate the Department’s effort to undertake such a comprehensive analysis, the results are disappointing.  Indeed, the two reviews simply don’t compare to the level of planning and analysis that goes into the Department of Defense’s Quadrennial Defense Review and supporting documents.

            “For example, in the QDR and the Navy’s shipbuilding plan, the Department of Defense outlines specific measurable goals – such as a 313-ship Navy.  The 30-year shipbuilding plan includes a force structure, construction plan, funding assumptions, and specific articulation of risk inherent in the force projections. By comparison, the QHSR and BUR amount essentially to high-level strategy documents that provide little in the way of concrete goals or the actions needed to achieve them.”

            DHS Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute was the sole witness.

            The QHSR was required by the second 9/11 recommendations bill passed by Congress in 2007 as a way to develop and update strategies for homeland security and ensure that DHS’s programs and activities were aligned with the nation’s overall homeland security strategy.  

Forty-four initiatives are described in the BUR report, in areas such as information-sharing, management integration, DHS regional realignment, and the organizational framework for cybersecurity. 

            The QHSR was modeled largely after the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) that was put in place in the 1990s to ensure that the military was studying emerging national security threats following the end of the Cold War and developing the strategies and resources to counter them.