The Future of DHS Project: Protecting the Homeland from Coronavirus, Threats to Democracy, and Other Future Threats is a project of Forward Defense within the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. The project develops recommendations for how to improve the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Our latest content and convenings

Charting the way forward for US homeland security

The Future of DHS Project released its Key Findings and Recommendations in August 2020, in time to inform the transition teams of both parties that formed after the political party nominating conventions. In September 2020, the project launched its Full Report. In December 2020, the project held an event with the Hon. Bennie Thompson to discuss congressional oversight reform of DHS and published its recommendations for reforming congressional oversight of DHS.

Read our executive-level recommendations:

Learn more about the 2020 Project Study Groups

  1. DHS’s Mission: Reevaluating the mission of the Department, especially in light of emerging threats from infectious diseases like COVID-19; foreign nation-state threats to our democracy through cyber, social media, and disinformation; increasing threats to critical infrastructure; and domestic terrorism—at the same time that DHS needs to maintain its other missions like counterterrorism, border and aviation security, maritime security, disaster preparedness, and counternarcotics.
  2. Public-Private Partnerships and International Trade: How DHS approaches public-private partnerships and facilitates international trade.
  3. Aligning Policy and Resources: The March 14 seven-hour delays at airports to screen arriving travelers from Europe is an example of this continuing challenge.
  4. Improving How DHS Builds Capacity of Overseas Counterparts: How DHS and the State Department coordinate DHS’s security sector assistance for overseas capacity building. Both the Obama and Trump Administration’s national security and counterterrorism strategies call for building up the capacity of partner governments to address terrorism and other threats before they reach our shores, but coordination continues to pose challenges.
  5. DHS’s Workplace Challenges, including ongoing issues of employee morale: Despite strong employee enthusiasm for DHS’s mission, the 2019 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey found DHS ranked 17 of 17 large cabinet departments in employee morale.
  6. Streamline Legislative Oversight: More than 90 committees and subcommittees have jurisdiction overall or part of DHS. Many studies and recommendations made the point that DHS’s legislative oversight needs to be streamlined. The best window of opportunity for this will be during the 90-day window between the November 3 election and the start of the 117th Congress on January 4, 2021.

Read our legislative-level recommendations:

Shaping the debate on timely DHS issues

The Future of DHS Project team continues to release key commentary and analyses on all things homeland security, keeping pace with critical developments of today and tomorrow.

Reimagining twenty-first century counterterrorism efforts

DHS was created in response to the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In the twenty-plus years since, the Department has transformed to meet an evolving terrorist challenge. In Spring 2021, the Future of DHS Project convened key experts and released analyses following the January 6 domestic extremist attacks on the US Capitol. In September 2021, the Project honored twenty years since 9/11 and reflected on a changing threat environment.

The future of counterterrorism: Twenty years after 9/11:

After the insurrection Series:

About the Project


Thomas S. Warrick

Director, Future of DHS Project and Nonresident Senior Fellow, Forward Defense, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Atlantic Council

Sue Ramanathan

Nonresident Senior Fellow, Forward Defense, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Atlantic Council

Seth Stodder

Nonresident Senior Fellow, Forward Defense, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Atlantic Council

Francis X. Taylor

Nonresident Senior Fellow, Forward Defense, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Atlantic Council; President and CEO, FXTaylor Associates, LLC; President, Cambridge Global Advisors


The Future of DHS Project was launched with support from founding partners SAIC and Accenture and an additional generous contribution from Lumen (formerly CenturyLink).

Forward Defense

Forward Defense, housed within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, shapes the debate around the greatest military challenges facing the United States and its allies, and creates forward-looking assessments of the trends, technologies, and concepts that will define the future of warfare.