Interagency Relationships In Homeland Defense essay

If we ask American people the question “what is the most threatening crime these days? ” we would be amazed that the 9/11 tragedy and other similar terrorism attacks would be their answers. The 9/11 tragedy prompted the US government to establish the Office of Homeland Security on October 8, 2001. “The establishment of the office – headed by the new Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and involving the new Homeland Security Council – has not ended scrutiny and debate over the appropriate organizational system needed by the federal government to meet impending terrorist threats” (Wise, 2002).

Charles Wise’s article “Organizing Homeland Security” (2002) examined alternatives for organizing the homeland security in the federal government and the issues that will need to be addressed in choosing the appropriate methods. In addition, Wise also presented and analyzed three approaches of assigning the homeland security responsibility within the federal government. Wise (2002) found that numerous obstacles to building effective collaborative capacity in various homeland security networks exist, and leadership within these networks will be needed to overcome them.

In addition, he noted that the role of agency managers in working in collaborative networks is different than their role in managing hierarchically. Thus, he recommended “trans-organizational leadership” that cut across levels of government to identify mutual interests and possible resources to promote exchanges, which required leaders who served as brokers to facilitate and promote the exchanges. He purported that organizing for homeland security would happen as a result of many formal and informal initiatives that take place within the existing federal organizational structure to confront the emerging challenges of terrorism.

B. Journal Article Critique Charles Wise’s “Organizing for Homeland Security” article primarily exhibits the debates about the appropriate organizational structure of agencies to combat terrorism after the 9/11 tragedy until the government thought to establish the Department of Homeland Security. Traditionally, the institutionalization research suggests that when organizational technologies are poorly understood, when goals are ambiguous, or when the environment creates uncertainty, organizations usually follow other organizations’ practices.

This is particularly common practice for new organizations, which could serve as sources of innovation and variation; leaders will seek to overcome the liability of newness by imitating established practices within the field (DiMaggio and Powell 1983, as cited by Wise). Taking the perspective of the federal government, this often means some hierarchical design. Primarily, this was what Wise (2002) criticized in his article because “the adoption of standard, rational, hierarchical designs and practices seem unsuitable for organizations that are expected to operate in complex, unstable environments.

” He suggested that organizations must adopt structures that are as complex as the environments they confront because more unstable environments create a need for greater decentralization of authority and less emphasis on formal structure, because a shifting environment requires rapid decisions and changes, and it takes too long for information and decisions to travel up and down a strict hierarchy.

Although Wise (2002) cited several problems in basing the leadership and design for organizing the Department of Homeland Security in hierarchical models, he did not recommend a particular organizational design that might be appropriate for the agency. C. Explanation of Relationship of Journal to Agency Since Homeland Security issues deal with the protection of US citizens from any injuries, the situation suggests that the Department of Homeland Security needs to work hand in hand with Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

DHHS is the US government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves (Department of Health & Human Services, 2001). The threat of bioterrorism has spawned a number of initiatives and programs with “dual use” capabilities applicable to countering infectious diseases.

During times of emergency situation, the responsibility for managing public health and emergency medical preparedness for bioterrorism belongs primarily to the Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DHHS’s Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) although it is unclear how the new Office of Homeland Security will affect this arrangement. Since managing homeland security involves many aspects, President George W.

Bush argued that the United States needs a single, unified homeland security administrative structure, which drove the President to use his maximum legal authority to establish the White House Office of Homeland Security and Homeland Security Council. President Bush asked Homeland Security Advisor Tom Ridge to examine components of the federal government to determine appropriate policy options. The new department was to replace a confusing patchwork of government activities into a single department, including those tasked within the DHHS.

The central task of the mega bureaucracy was to “analyze intelligence and act on it to protect against and prevent terrorist attacks on US soil. ” The situation revealed, as suggested by Wise (2002), that in order to deal with the Homeland Security issue, there needs to be clear relationships between related agencies in order to make sense of the new security environment. For instance, currently the US has the National Response Plan (NRP), which is established to pursue a comprehensive all-hazards approach and enhance the ability of the country to manage domestic incidents including homeland security, emergency management, public health, etc.

DHHS is involved in this plan as it is part of all forms of how federal departments and agencies will work together and how the federal government will coordinate with state, local, and tribal governments and the private sector during incidents. DHHS also establishes protocols to help protect the nation from terrorist attacks and other natural and manmade hazards; save lives; protect public health, safety, property, and the environment; and reduce adverse psychological consequences and disruptions to the American way of life (DHHS, 2001).

As questions are being raised about the effects of more government spending on the expanding budget deficit, especially as difficult economic times are causing the states and local governments budgeting difficulties, DHS, along with DHHS and other agencies, should be managed suitably and effectively so that they would reap benefits and accomplish its goals as an organization. II. Agency Leadership and Management Problem A. Statement of the Problem or Issue

Wise’s article “Organizing for Homeland Security” (2002) emphasized that one of the issues faced in homeland security is the creation of appropriate organizational design to prevent any incidences like the threats caused by terrorism. The emphasis suggests that the U. S. government should take combating terrorism seriously by establishing a special organization that deals with terrorism. Since combating terrorism as part of Homeland Security involves interagency coordination, therefore the research statement is “As managing homeland security involves many aspects and agencies, what is the role of DHHS in managing Homeland Security situations?

” Wise (2002) stated that it is important that values, goals, and procedures become strongly established, not necessarily, because they are the most efficient and effective but because of environmental influences and exchanges. Wise also reasoned that the adoption of standard, rational, hierarchical designs and practices in managing Homeland Security is unsuitable for complex and unstable environments. Thus, when formulating the design for Department of Homeland Security (DHS), revisions are needed to provide leeway to accommodate viable shortcuts to decision making and leadership during times of emergencies.

For example, DHS is tasked to support partnering agencies, with their leads in public health (DHHS), agriculture (USDA), food (DHHS and USDA), water security (EPA), decontamination (EPA), and criminal investigations (DOJ). In accordance with the National Response Plan released by DHS, DHHS is the lead federal agency in providing public health and medical services during major disasters and emergencies in which DHHS coordinates all federal resources related to public health and medical services during a major disaster or emergency incidences. B. Assessment of the Problem or Issue

Four months after assuming office in 2001, President Bush issued a statement on “domestic preparedness” that again acknowledged the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) threat. He also assigned Vice President Cheney to lead an initiative overseeing a coordinated national effort to protect US citizens from catastrophic harm. The President instructed the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to establish an Office of National Preparedness responsible for implementing the Vice President’s efforts in dealing with consequence management and in coordinating all federal homeland security efforts.

The efforts are undertaken by the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Justice (DoJ), the Department of Energy (DoE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Being a major arm of the agencies that assist DHS in its goal to counter bioterrorism, DHHS stands as the most specific government agency associated with health. According to the DHHS website, its objective is to maintain healthy and productive individuals, families, and communities as the very foundation of the Nation’s security and prosperity.

DHHS also impacts virtually all Americans and people around the world, whether through direct services, the benefits of advances in science, or information that helps them to live better and to make healthy choices (DHHS, 2001). In a society that is diverse in culture, language, and ethnicity, DHHS also manages an array of programs that aim to close the gaps and eliminate disparities in health status and access to health services that increase opportunities for disadvantaged individuals to work and lead productive lives. Thus, DHHS’ Mission is:

“To enhance the health and well-being of Americans by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering strong, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services. ” (DHHS, 2001) At present, DHHS is reforming its management and improving the programs it runs. Within the next few years, they we will coordinate various activities among DHHS agencies such as work on HIV/AIDS, Medicaid, delivery of health care services to children and families, and research on the effectiveness of DHHS programs (DHHS, 2001).

DHHS composes of Operating Divisions (OPDIVs), led by the Office of the Secretary (OS). The Program Support Center (PSC), which is part of OS, provides administrative support to the Department and other federal agencies. The PSC is a self-supporting component of DHHS. It provides competitive services on a fee-for-service basis to DHHS and 30 other federal agencies, through DHHS’ Service and Supply revolving fund, in three key areas: Financial management, human resources, and administrative operations (DHHS, 2001).

Without financial and personnel resources from the federal government, states and local municipalities find themselves unable to address these gargantuan responsibilities and other problems, and must rely on community-based groups such as local health foundations to address massive problems. This is the reason why it is important for DHHS to work with other federal agencies in order to mitigate its widening and overlapping role in promoting health care in the United States (DHHS, 2001).