Resilience Rising

The Department of Homeland Security unveiled its first Quadrennial Homeland Security Review this week and the Policy Daddy is happy to see that his worst fears have not been realized. In fact, the concept of resilience is a central piece of the QHSR and looks poised to take its rightful place as a fundamental pillar of U.S. homeland security policy.

The goal of reformers to place facets like preparedness, response and recovery that are associated with resilience on equal terms with prevention and security has been achieved with this document. It states “All homeland security activities must be built upon a foundation of ensuring security and resilience, as well as facilitating the normal, daily activities of society and interchange with the world.”

The report represents the most extensive attempt by the federal government to define what exactly “homeland security” entails. It is also the best effort to date in determining how governments at all levels can work together with other actors such as private entities, non-profits, and the general public. The review specifically calls for a shift from top-down management to engaging all stakeholders. It states that DHS is currently undergoing a “bottom-up” review to align its work and structure with the missions and goals outlined in the review.

It acknowledges the lessons learned from Katrina in not adequately preparing for unpreventable disasters. Preventing terrorism cannot be the sole goal of homeland security.

The five missions of the homeland security enterprise identified in the review are:

  • Preventing terrorism and enhancing security
  • Securing and managing our borders
  • Enforcing and administering our immigration laws
  • Safeguarding and securing cyberspace
  • Ensuring resilience to disasters

Under “Ensuring resilience to disasters” the four goals are:

  • Mitigate hazards
  • Enhance preparedness
  • Ensure effective emergency response
  • Rapidly recover

The review also sets out the vision for homeland security as “A homeland that is safe, secure and resilient against terrorism and other hazards where American interests, aspirations, and way of life can thrive.”

It should be noted that the goals and outcomes for resilience prescribed in the review are not as comprehensive or ambitious as those enumerated in the draft version presented for the National Dialogue on the QHSR last year. Hopefully this has more to do with space considerations in a document that already spans past 100 pages, as opposed to curbing the aspirations for resilience.

In an encouraging sign, the missions in the FY 2011 Budget that DHS presented this week are in line with those expressed in the review, and resilience is very prominent in that budget as well. It is one thing for a review document to set forth recommendations, but expressing them in the budget bodes well that DHS is indeed serious about resilience.


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One Response to “Resilience Rising”

  1. William R. Cumming Says:

    Agree and like the tone and span of your blog. Keep it up!

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