Overview of Napolitano’s Action Directives

In her first 10 days in office, new Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has issued 12 “action directives” focused on specific homeland security areas.  Here’s an overview of all the action directives, including their purpose and a brief look at what they may indicate for Homeland Security policy in the Obama administration.

What is an action directive?

According to the DHS press release, action directives “instruct specific offices and agencies to gather information, review existing strategies and programs, and to provide oral and written reports” by a specified date.  The dates are specified separately for each directive.

So essentially the action directives are reviews of existing programs.  Although the action directives do not direct any changes to the programs under review, the specific areas each directive specifies for review give an indication of programs that may begin seeing changes after the reviews are complete.

List of Action Directives

The list of action directives follows.  I’ve listed all the relevant dates for each directive as [Date issued / date oral presentations due / date written reports due].  I’ve linked each directive in this list to the DHS press release that includes it.

Note: Although the initial press release didn’t give both oral and written dates for the 5 action directives issued on that date, based on the press releases for the other action directives, this appears to be an error, and I’ve made the assumption that all 5 of those directives have the same oral and written response dates.  No date was specified for oral presentations for the last action directive (immigration and border security).

Brief Analysis:

Although immigration and border security was the last action directive issued, it is by far the longest and most specific directive, while at the same time allowing the shortest time between issuance of the directive and due date for the final report.  This may be a reflection of Secretary Napolitano’s experience with immigration, but in any case it indicates a likely increase in emphasis on immigration and border security compared to the previous administration.

The other theme clearly evident in many of the action directives is interoperability and integration, integration, integration.  Napolitano stated during her confirmation hearing that a primary focus under her watch would be integration of DHS agencies into a single cohesive agency, and the action directives reflect that.

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2 Responses

  1. Do you happen to know whether the responses will be published on the DHS web site? So far it seems that the Action Directives are listed but not the reports.

    Thanks.

  2. No, sorry, I don’t know the answer, although I’ll hazard a few guesses.

    First, both verbal and written reports were directed, and the contents of the verbal reports will almost certainly not be recorded or published.
    Second, I’m not sure the written reports will be made public either, because I expect some of the content may be sensitive-but-unclassified information (otherwise known as FOUO – For Official Use Only).
    Finally, I do expect that after she’s received all the reports and digested them, Secretary Napolitano will issue some sort of public document(s) or statement(s) outlining DHS priorities.

    With the emphasis the Obama administration is placing on openness and transparency, I could be wrong. But my impression is that the goal of the administration is to be more transparent to Congress (whose members are cleared for sensitive information), not to share potentially sensitive information with the public.

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