The Future of DHS Project: Protecting the Homeland from Coronavirus, Threats to Democracy, and Other Future Threats is a project of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. The project will develop recommendations for how to improve the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The goal is to release the report in July 2020, in time to inform the transition teams of both parties that will be formed in August 2020 after the political party nominating conventions.
Project study groups
- 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.
- Public-Private Partnerships and International Trade: How DHS approaches public-private partnerships and facilitates international trade.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Project director & co-director
The Future of DHS Project is being launched with support from founding partners SAIC and Accenture and an additional generous contribution from CenturyLink.
Featured work on DHS
Mon, Mar 16, 2020
DHS experts would have known in January, if not earlier, to begin urgent planning for the possibility of having to staff the screening of large numbers of incoming travelers at major airports around the country. All signs show that parts of this planning went well, but with one crucial failure: DHS was not given the resources necessary to scale the response to the president’s policy decision to screen arriving travelers from Europe.
New Atlanticist by Thomas S. Warrick
Mon, Sep 23, 2019
DHS’s new counterterrorism strategy calls out white supremacism, but will need resources and support
The new strategic framework is the first in the Trump administration to call out white supremacism as a major domestic terrorism threat but will need support from the White House and Congress to succeed.
New Atlanticist by
Mon, May 4, 2020
Read the Middle East Program’s new paper on the use of weaponized drones in the Middle East, with recommendations for policymakers.
Issue Brief by
Broader issues for homeland security
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