Ten years ago, the 9/11 Commission urged Congress to simplify oversight of Homeland Security

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On July 22, 2004, the 9/11 Commission urged Congress to simplify oversight of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Instead Congress has made matters worse. Instead of answering to 88 committees and subcommittees, during the last Congress the department dealt with 92, plus an additional 27 Congressional caucuses, commissions and groups.

The need to simplify oversight of Homeland Security was endorsed last year by the Sunnylands-Aspen Task Force, a group of national-security experts including the 9/11 Commission chair and vice-chair, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton. The group said the current system created overlapping and redundant oversight, leaving the nation vulnerable in critical areas such as cybersecurity, the prioritizing of biohazards, and the threats posed by small planes and boats carrying unknown cargo. Read the Sunnylands-Aspen report here.

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    • In the Wall Street Journal in May, a bipartisan group of more than 60 experts in national security — including all three past Secretaries of Homeland Security, the entire 9/11 Commission, and heads of the FBI, CIA and NSA — urged Congress to simplify its oversight of homeland security. Read more about the ad here.
    • In the New York Times op-ed “Homeland Confusion,” on Sept. 11, 2013, former 9/11 Commission chairman and vice-chairman Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton said Congress needs to implement more effective oversight of Homeland Security, or “the American people will not get the security they want and need.”
    • Before 9/11, the Hart-Rudman Commission warned that the United States was vulnerable to attack at home. In “Why 9/11 Can Happen Again” in the Los Angeles Times this year, former Sen. Gary Hart and former Army Undersecretary Norman Augustine said, “congressional oversight of homeland security remains an organizational maze.”
    • At the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival, a bipartisan panel agreed that the U.S. faces a series of new dangers at home, including cyberthreats, as well as the persistent failure by Congress to correct oversight issues.
    • During House Speaker John Boehner’s December 14, 2014 weekly briefing, CBS’s Nancy Cordes asked him about efforts to reform Congressional oversight of DHS. Watch the video below:

Experts in homeland security in both parties have criticized the system of oversight with such terms as “duplicative and wasteful,” “Byzantine,” “antiquated,” “Balkanized and dysfunctional” and a “failure.” See the video “Homeland Confusion” here:

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