Addressing the 2009 Presidential Transition at the Department of Homeland Security

June 2008 - With a forthcoming presidential change on the horizon and concern that a departure of significant members of DHS’s leadership team could further reduce the department’s capabilities, congressional leaders thought it prudent to review DHS’s senior staffing structure and composition, as well as assess and benchmark senior career training and development programs. These leaders were “concerned that the department and its components will not be able to function effectively when the change in administration occurs in 2009.” Congress and DHS asked the National Academy to look at these issues and provide guidance. This report is the result of the request. Chapter 6 details the Academy Panel’s recommendations and a suggested timeline for implementation.

The Panel also focuses on two issues that, left unresolved, will continue to make it difficult for DHS to fulfill its mission. First, the Panel believes that there is more work to do to overcome resistance to DHS headquarters’ role in integrating the work of the individual components. This was one of the founding goals for the department. Second, the Panel notes the problems created for DHS by the multiple congressional oversight committees to which it reports. The Panel found that this oversight has stretched DHS resources, made it difficult to enact important legislation and created a potential for policy disarray.

Key Findings

The Academy Panel has made a number of important recommendations to help DHS with the upcoming presidential transition. This report aligns recommended strategies with key events—the political conventions, the election, the inauguration and beyond. Identifying and filling critical positions, training new executives and working aggressively to get the next President’s homeland security team in place are vital steps that need to be taken. To succeed in these efforts, DHS also will need the support of Congress and the White House.