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Monday, 19 June 2017 16:19

Congress’s Tangled DHS Oversight Structure Prioritizes Politics Over Security

Written by  Michael Morris

With homeland security being such a national priority, one would expect Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to have a well-organized relationship.

Unfortunately, that is not the case.

On Wednesday, the House Homeland Security Committee marked up a bill that would reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security for the first time since 2002, when the department was conceived.

Why has Congress put off the task for so long? In large part because over the past 15 years, Homeland Security has reported to between 80 and 120 different committees and subcommittees in Congress.

This complicated oversight arrangement exists because the committees that originally had jurisdiction over the department’s component organizations refuse to give up their power.

When portions of 22 different organizations, spanning from the Department of Defense to the Department of Transportation, were consolidated following 9/11 to form the Department of Homeland Security, they all continued to report to their original congressional committees.

Ultimately, this fractured reporting process complicates the reauthorization process. Why do eight committee chairs have to work together to authorize a single department?

In addition, Congress’ impracticable way of organizing its jurisdiction lends itself to producing an oversight process that is duplicative and contradictory.

For example, the homeland security committees could provide guidance to the Department of Homeland Security on how ports or border crossings should be improved.

Read more at CNSNews

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