What is the Level of Accountability in US Homeland Security?
Homeland security is a United States cabinet department charged with the responsibility of securing the public. This entity has stated missions which include border security, antiterrorism, customs and immigration, disaster management and prevention, as well as cyber-security. The department was established as a response to the attacks on September 11 which shook the American government.
There have been discussions as to whether or not the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had been effective in its mandate. Accordingly, some reports have showcased that DHS has not been effective in fulfilling its missions. A recent federal oversight report (DHS IG OIG 16-130) discovered that despite its achievement, the department has grave shortcomings and various problems (DHS, 2016). This may owe to the fact the agency does not have a formal structure and personnel to fulfill its missions. The report claimed that the agency has management appointees who are inexperienced and as such, aggravated its main weakness which is the lack of experience and expertise in security tradecraft, supply-chain operations, and technology. In essence, the department of homeland security does not harbor adequate means to gather and analyze intelligence. This level of amateurism is what brings about the compromised ability of DHS to make the land and sea ports of entry to America safe.
The report also presented details on the money spent by the agency on spa trips, incompetent strategies, and practices for cyber-security. In addition, it establishes no specific plan for mitigating an Ebola pandemic, and un-trained federal guards in weapon screening. The report goes on to state that based on evidence which it had gathered, the department of homeland security is not executing any among its missions successfully, and several programs started by the agency should be reconsidered since they are ineffective. Among the key findings, one states that DHS spent over 50 billion dollars on counterterrorism programs over the past 11 years, including other initiatives of anti-terrorism, but the agency has nothing to show as a result and cannot even demonstrate if it has made the nation safe and secure as a result.
According to another report published in 2012, (Homeland Security Advisory Council Report, better known as HSACR) every assessment on the DHS top five missions only shows a dreadful litany of incompetence and failure, disinterest and corruption. and this characterizes the DHS as an inefficient and ineffective program and questions its worthiness. Moreover, the report stipulates that the information and intelligence sharing programs of DHS provide little or no value to the American country.
A more precise example is the report which accuses DHS of being lousy at cyber-security. It stresses that the department is a dysfunctional culture providing details of wasted and misspent money, disasters brought about by cyber-security disasters and most importantly a country under the protection of government contractors who are mostly untrained. According to the report, the prevalent weaknesses sported in the information security practices of the federal government portray a substantial vulnerability which adversaries can exploit and create a potential threat to the citizens of America and the national security as a whole. This is troubling as one ponders on this query, ‘How can a department that struggles to maintain its information security protect the whole of the American country?’ The report further reveals that recurrent audits by the inspector general showed that even the employees and officers of the department fail to comply with the policies and federal rules for the cyber-security of the department. The inspector general also discovered that DHS failed to carry out regular reviews on security to ensure its classified systems were secure, up-to-date and safe.
One might have thought that after the snowden incident, classified systems became the top priority for DHs with regards to cyber-security. But the report published by the DHS stewardship shows that this is downright not the case. The report additionally stipulates that the approaches used by DHS in mitigating vulnerability is simply a lost cause. This aligns with the opinions of several InfoSec professionals who stated that, DHS would not protect the American people from cyber-security threats and other sophisticated attacks. This is because of the poor DH’s strategies for cyber-security, particularly because the strategies have primarily focused on mitigation of vulnerability. It should be considered that adversaries have the ability to develop new tools continuously with a possibility of defeating many network defenses. The report advises the DHS to reconsider its current strategy since it only focuses on vulnerability mitigation and as such is ineffective and cannot prevent grave threats of cyber-security. This, according to the report, is one among the many ways the DHS can improve its efficiency and fulfill its five foremost missions
It is logical to conclude that the U.S Department of Security does not have obligatory leadership and proficiency that will safeguard the security of the nation. It is influenced by external agencies, internal operational issues, academics, and interest groups which have no experience and knowledge in carrying out this vital mission. For this and many other reasons, the department of defense is ineffective in executing its mandate of protecting the nation.