Homeland security is a domestic effort that was set to protect and defend America from terrorists. Generally, the homeland security efforts have comprised of the general preparedness under the all-hazards doctrine which directs its focus on common efforts that help prepare for the terrorist attacks and other catastrophes such as hurricanes. The main objectives of homeland security are to reduce vulnerabilities which involve preventing the terrorists from accessing and using weapons of mass destruction, minimizing damage and recovering from attacks which involve improving the country’s capability to respond to attacks and preventing terrorism which involves the improvement of intelligence activities and keeping the terrorists out of the country. This paper discuses various issues and concerns of the United States homeland security.
Issues and concerns of homeland security
The first issue which is a major concern to the homeland security is the increasing cyber threats. For instance, there is an increase in computer interconnectivity which revolutionized the way the government communicates and conducts business. Such cyber problems pose significant problems to the computer systems and all the critical operations supported by these systems. For example, the national defense, emergence services, government services and law enforcement are affected by interconnectivity. Various government officials are concerned about the attacks from individuals and groups with bad intentions such as terrorism, foreign intelligence gathering, acts of war and crime. This problem is caused by some transnational criminals, intelligence services and terrorists who have the knowledge of using information exploitation tools such as Trojan horses, worms, logic bombs and computer viruses that intercepts, destroys and deny access to important data or information. For example, the warnings of the potential for terrorist attack against the America’s critical infrastructure have increased since the September 11 attacks. For instance, the special advisor to the president for cyberspace security said that information about the American computerized water systems was found on the computers in al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.
Border security is another issue. The homeland security has a primary mission of controlling all the United States borders. The illegal immigrations and insecurity at the borders challenges the homeland security. This problem arises due to lack of appropriate border enforcement program that is helps in coordinating and integrating various homeland security operations. Therefore there are interdependencies which have created conflicts between the various departments of the homeland security. Also, there are problems in the integration of border surveillance technologies. For example, the border surveillance cameras were reported not properly integrated with ground sensors and the sensors are plagued with false alarms (Department of Homeland Security).
Lack of coordination also affects the Department of Homeland Security. For instance, there are conflicts between the part of homeland security called FEMA (Federal Law Enforcement Training), the Office for Domestic Preparedness which is part of Justice Department and the part of cabinet called Department of Health and Human Services. FEMA and homeland security are supposed to respond to disasters and terrorist attacks but they are considered to be poorly prepared due to lack of coordination with local and state governments despite the spending on massive emergency response activities. For example, an April 2009 report from the Government Accountability Office indicated that FEMA does not have a strategic plan that specifies clear and measurable objectives for its national preparedness system. It also indicates that FEMA lacks a well established program management plan that defines how it will plan, execute, monitor and control its preparations in coordination with other agencies and departments.
In addition, the department of homeland security does not have an appropriate management infrastructure that would allow it to effectively oversee the large and complex dollar procurement that are critical to achieving its mission. There are significant risks and vulnerabilities that threaten the integrity of homeland security’s performance. These vulnerabilities include inadequate training of the procurement officials on appropriate procurement ethics and responsibilities, lack of effective program management that is important in obtaining appropriate systems and equipments to accomplish the mission of homeland security and lack of staffing that prevents correct procurement planning and limits the ability of department of homeland security to conduct effective contract administration and monitor various contractor performances. The lack of training makes the procurement officials to lack appropriate mechanisms of requesting for additional information and help when various ethics issues arise.
In conclusion, some of the concerns of the American department are border insecurity, management problems and cybercrimes. The illegal immigrations and insecurity is an issue that challenges the homeland security. Lack of good management programs and coordination interferes with the border enforcement program that is helps in coordinating and integrating various homeland security operations. Finally, homeland security is challenged by the increasing cyber threats which pose significant problems to the computer systems and all the critical operations supported by these systems.