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.

GAO faults agencies for lack of coordination on interoperability

According to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released on December 12, DHS, DOJ, and the Treasury Department are no longer coordinating with each other to develop a nationwide federal wireless communications service for use by first responders.  The report, requested by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (ID-CT)  and Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME), found the different departments are now working on individual interoperability projects rather than implementing the Integrated Wireless Network (IWN) program.

Event: House Homeland Security Committee roundtables on privacy, civil rights, & civil liberties at DHS

  • When:  Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008
  • Where: 311 Cannon House Office Building, Washington D.C.
  • Time:  9:00 am – 4:00 pm

On Wednesday, December 3rd, the Majority Staff of the House Committee on Homeland Security will host a series of roundtable discussions on the future of privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties at DHS.  The event, entitled “A Path Forward: Constitutional Protections in Homeland Security”, is sponsored by Rep. Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.  Experts from the public sector will give their views on the focus the Department should take in dealing with privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties during the new Administration.  There will be a total of six panels:

  • 9am – The Road Ahead: Protecting Civil Liberties in a Natural Disaster
  • 10am – A New Direction:  Privacy Implications in Datamining
  • 11am – The Way Forward: Privacy and Domestic Intelligence & Information Sharing
  • 1pm – The Advancing Lane: Transportation Security & Privacy and Civil Liberties
  • 2pm – The Changing Course:  Privacy, Civil Liberties, and the Border
  • 3pm – A Progressive Dimension: Cybersecurity and Privacy

TSA meets initial passenger aircraft cargo screening goal

From HS Daily Wire:

It’s not everyday that a government agency beats a Congressional deadline, but TSA just has.  Congress mandated through the 9/11 law that 50 percent of cargo on passenger carrying aircraft be screened by February 2009 and 100 percent of cargo be screened by August 2010; And now, four months before the first deadline, TSA says it’s currently screening all cargo on more than 90 percent of all passenger carrying aircraft in the U.S.

Bush sets up council to work on transition to next administration

From TheHill.com:

President Bush on Thursday signed an executive order creating a Presidential Transition Coordinating Council that “will help to coordinate efforts already under way to ensure a seamless presidential transition.”

In the explanation of the order, one of the reasons cited for why this is important is that we are “working to protect ourselves from future terrorist attacks.”