TestimonyThe Honorable Tom Ridge
United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Protecting the Homeland: The President's Proposal for Reorganizing Our Homeland Defense Infrastructure
June 26, 2002
Director of the Transition Planning Office for the Department of Homeland Security ,
Written Statement of Governor Tom Ridge
Director of the Transition Planning Office for the Department of Homeland Security
Submitted to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
June 26, 2002
“The Department of Homeland Security: Making Americans Safer”
Chairman Leahy, Senator Hatch, and other distinguished members of the Committee on the Judiciary. It is an honor to be here today to explain why I believe the Senate should support the President’s proposal to establish a Department of Homeland Security. I also look forward to responding to your questions and listening to your views.
The President’s Proposal
On June 6, 2002, President Bush addressed the nation and put forth his vision to create a permanent Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security. On June 18, 2002, I delivered to the Congress the President’s proposed legislation for establishing the new Department. This is an historic proposal. It would be the most significant transformation of the U.S. government in over a half-century. It would transform and largely realign the government’s confusing patchwork of homeland security activities into a single department whose primary mission is to protect our homeland. The proposal to create a Department of Homeland Security is one more key step in the President’s national strategy for homeland security.
It is crucial that we take this historic step. At the beginning of the Cold War, President Truman recognized the need to reorganize our national security institutions to meet the Soviet threat. We emerged victorious from that dangerous period thanks in part to President Truman’s initiative. Today we are fighting a new war against a new enemy. President Bush recognizes that the threat we face from terrorism requires a reorganization of government similar in scale and urgency to the unification of the Defense Department and creation of the CIA and NSC.
Currently, no federal government department has homeland security as its primary mission. In fact, responsibilities for homeland security are dispersed among more than 100 different government organizations. Creating a unified homeland security structure will align the efforts of many of these organizations and ensure that this crucial mission – protecting our homeland – is the top priority and responsibility of one department and one Cabinet secretary.
Immediately after last fall’s attack, the President took decisive steps to protect America – from hardening cockpits and stockpiling vaccines to tightening our borders. The President used his legal authority to establish the White House Office of Homeland Security and the Homeland Security Council to ensure that our federal response and protection efforts were coordinated and effective. The President also directed me, as Homeland Security Advisor, to study the federal government as a whole to determine if the current structure allows us to meet the threats of today while anticipating the unknown threats of tomorrow. After careful study of the current structure – coupled with the experience gained since September 11 and new information we have learned about our enemies while fighting a war – the President concluded that our nation needs a more unified homeland security structure.
The Department of Homeland Security
The creation of the Department of Homeland Security would empower a single Cabinet official whose primary mission is to protect the American homeland from terrorism. The mission of the Department would be to:
• Prevent terrorist attacks within the United States;
• Reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism; and
• Minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur.
The Department of Homeland Security would mobilize and focus the resources of the federal government, state and local governments, the private sector, and the American people to accomplish its mission. It would have a clear, efficient organizational structure with four divisions.
• Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection
• Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Countermeasures
• Border and Transportation Security
• Emergency Preparedness and Response
Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection
The Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection section of the Department of Homeland Security would complement the reforms on intelligence and information-sharing already underway at the FBI and the CIA. The Department would analyze information and intelligence for the purpose of understanding the terrorist threat to the American homeland and foreseeing potential terrorist threats against the homeland.
Furthermore, the Department would comprehensively assess the vulnerability of America’s key assets and critical infrastructures, including food and water systems, agriculture, health systems and emergency services, information and telecommunications, banking and finance, energy (electrical, nuclear, gas and oil, dams), transportation (air, road, rail, ports, waterways), the chemical and defense industries, postal and shipping entities, and national monuments and icons. Critically, the Department would integrate its own and others’ threat analyses with its comprehensive vulnerability assessment for the purpose of identifying protective priorities and supporting protective steps to be taken by the Department, other federal departments and agencies, state and local agencies, and the private sector. Working closely with state and local officials, other federal agencies, and the private sector, the Department would help ensure that proper steps are taken to protect high-risk potential targets.
In short, the Department would for the first time merge under one roof the capability to identify and assess threats to the homeland, map those threats against our vulnerabilities, issue timely warnings, and organize preventive or protective action to secure the homeland.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Countermeasures
The war against terrorism is also a war against the most deadly weapons known to mankind – chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. If the terrorists acquire these weapons, they will use them with consequences that could be far more devastating than those we suffered on September 11th. Currently, our efforts to counter the threat of these weapons to the homeland are too few and too fragmented. We must launch a systematic national effort against these weapons that is equal to the threat they pose.
The President’s proposed legislation would accomplish this goal. It would authorize the Department of Homeland Security to lead the federal government’s efforts in preparing for and responding to the full range of terrorist threats involving weapons of mass destruction. To do this, the Department would set national policy and establish guidelines for state and local governments. It would direct exercises and drills for federal, state, and local chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) attack response teams and plans. The result of this effort would be to consolidate and synchronize the disparate efforts of multiple federal agencies currently scattered across several departments. This would create a single office whose primary mission is the critical task of protecting the United States from catastrophic terrorism.
The Department would serve as a focal point for America’s premier centers of excellence in the field. It would manage national efforts to develop diagnostics, vaccines, antibodies, antidotes, and other countermeasures. It would consolidate and prioritize the disparate homeland security related research and development programs currently scattered throughout the Executive Branch. It would also assist state and local public safety agencies by evaluating equipment and setting standards.
Border and Transportation Security
Our number one priority is preventing future terrorist attacks. Because terrorism is a global threat, we must attain complete control over whom and what enters the United States in order to achieve this priority. We must prevent foreign terrorists from entering our country and bringing in instruments of terror. At the same time, we must expedite the legal flow of people and goods on which our economy depends.
Protecting our borders and controlling entry to the United States has always been the responsibility of the Federal government. Yet, this responsibility is currently dispersed among more than five major government organizations in five different departments. Therefore, under the President’s proposed legislation, the Department of Homeland Security would for the first time unify authority over major federal security operations related to our borders, territorial waters, and transportation systems.
The Department would assume responsibility for operational assets of the United States Coast Guard, the United States Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (including the Border Patrol), the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Transportation Security Administration. The Secretary of Homeland Security would have the authority to administer and enforce all immigration and nationality laws, including, through the Secretary of State, the visa issuance functions of consular officers. As a result, the Department would have sole responsibility for managing entry into the United States and protecting our transportation infrastructure. It would ensure that all aspects of border control, including the issuing of visas, are informed by a central information-sharing clearinghouse and compatible databases.
Emergency Preparedness and Response
Although our top priority is preventing future attacks, we cannot assume that we will always succeed. Therefore, we must also prepare to minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur. The President’s proposed legislation would require the Department of Homeland Security to ensure the preparedness of our nation’s emergency response professionals, provide the federal government’s emergency response to terrorist attacks and natural disasters, and aid America’s recovery.
To fulfill these missions, the Department would oversee federal government assistance in the domestic disaster preparedness training of first responders and would coordinate the government’s disaster response efforts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would become a central component of the Department of Homeland Security, and the new Department would administer the grant programs for firefighters, police, emergency personnel, and citizen volunteers currently managed by FEMA, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Health and Human Services. The Department would manage certain crucial elements of the federal government’s emergency response assets, such as the Strategic National Stockpile. In the case of an actual or threatened terrorist attack, major disaster, or other emergency, the Secretary of Homeland Security would have the authority to call on other response assets, including Energy’s and the EPA’s Nuclear Incident Response teams, as organizational units of the Department. Finally, the Department would integrate the federal interagency emergency response plans into a single, comprehensive, government-wide plan, and ensure that all response personnel have the equipment and capability to communicate with each other as necessary.
State/Local Government & Private Sector Coordination
The Department of Homeland Security would consolidate and streamline relations on homeland security issues with the federal government for America’s state and local governments, as well as the private sector. It would contain an intergovernmental affairs office to coordinate federal homeland security programs with state and local officials. It would give state and local officials one primary contact instead of many when it comes to matters related to training, equipment, planning, and other critical needs such as emergency response.
The Department of Homeland Security would incorporate the Secret Service, which would report directly to the Secretary. The Secret Service would remain intact and its primary mission will remain the protection of the President and other government leaders. The Secret Service would also continue to provide security for designated national events, as it did for the recent Olympics and the Super Bowl.
Non-Homeland Security Functions
The Department of Homeland Security would have a number of functions that are not directly related to securing the homeland against terrorism. For instance, through FEMA, it would be responsible for mitigating the effects of natural disasters. Through the Coast Guard, it would be responsible for search and rescue, navigation, and other maritime functions. Several other border functions, such as drug interdiction operations and naturalization, and would also be performed by the new Department.
White House Office of Homeland Security and Homeland Security Council
The President intends for the White House Office of Homeland Security and the Homeland Security Council to continue to play a key role, advising the President and coordinating a vastly simplified interagency process.
Making Americans Safer
The Department of Homeland Security would make Americans safer because our nation would have:
• One department whose primary mission is to protect the American homeland;
• One department to secure our borders, transportation sector, ports, and critical infrastructure;
• One department to integrate threat analyses and vulnerability assessments;
• One department to coordinate communications with state and local governments, private industry, and the American people about threats and preparedness;
• One department to coordinate our efforts to protect the American people against bioterrorism and other weapons of mass destruction;
• One department to help train and equip for first responders;
• One department to manage federal emergency response activities; and
• More security officers in the field working to stop terrorists and fewer resources in Washington managing duplicative and redundant activities that drain critical homeland security resources.
The New Department Would Improve Security Without Growing Government
The Department of Homeland Security must be an agile, fast-paced, and responsive organization that takes advantage of 21st-century technology and management techniques to meet a 21st-century threat.
The creation of a Department of Homeland Security would not "grow" government. The new Department would be funded within the total monies requested by the President in his FY 2003 budget already before Congress for the existing components. In fact, the President’s FY 2003 budget will increase the resources for the component parts by $14 billion over the FY 2002 budget. We expect that the cost of the new elements (such as the threat analysis unit and the state, local, and private sector coordination functions), as well as department-wide management and administration units, can be funded from savings achieved by eliminating redundancies inherent in the current structure.
In order to respond to rapidly changing conditions, the Secretary would need to have great latitude in re-deploying resources, both human and financial. The Secretary should have broad reorganizational authority in order to enhance operational effectiveness, as needed. Moreover, the President will request for the Department significant flexibility in hiring processes, compensation systems and practices, and performance management to recruit, retain, and develop a motivated, high-performance and accountable workforce. Finally, the new Department should have flexible procurement policies to encourage innovation and rapid development and operation of critical technologies vital to securing the homeland.
Working Together to Create the Department of Homeland Security
President Bush recognizes that only the Congress can create a new department of government. During his June 6th address to the nation, the President asked Congress to join him in establishing a single, permanent department with an overriding and urgent mission: securing the homeland of America, and protecting the American people. I am here to ask, as the President did, that we move quickly. The need is urgent. Therefore, the President has asked Congress to pass his proposal this year, before the end of the congressional session.
Preliminary planning for the new Department has already begun. The formal transition would begin once Congress acts on the President’s proposed legislation and the President signs it into law. Under the President’s plan, the new Department would be established by January 1, 2003, with integration of some components occurring over a longer period of time. To avoid gaps in leadership coverage, the President’s proposal contemplates that appointees who have already been confirmed by the Senate would be able to transfer to new positions without a second confirmation process.
During this transition period, the Office of Homeland Security will maintain vigilance and continue to coordinate the other federal agencies involved in homeland security. Until the Department of Homeland Security becomes fully operational, the proposed Department’s designated components will continue to operate under existing chains of command.