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DHS Oversight Reforms: The Latest Casualty of Congressional Turf Wars


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dhs-oversight-reforms-the-latest-casualty-of-congressional-turf-warsThe Foundry:

David Inserra and Rosie Brinckerhoff

January 18, 2013


On January 13 the new Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Mike McCaul (R–TX) announced to The Hill that he had no plans to strip homeland security oversight responsibilities from his fellow Representatives. With over 100 panels and committees having oversight over the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. homeland security is currently threatened by a web of duplicative and often contradictory oversight. Chairman McCaul is trying to avoid starting a turf war, but in dodging this issue, he is hurting U.S. homeland security.


To date, there are 119 committees, subcommittees, and other congressional groups with responsibility and jurisdiction over DHS. That means that there are 119 different players who each have their own agendas and ideas that are pulling DHS in many different directions. How can DHS, or any organization, truly be effective if they have 119 different panels playing watchdog while trying to give their own input?




Strong oversight is important, but reforms must be made to fix the status quo labyrinth of oversight. One successful model for such reform is the oversight structure of the Department of Defense, the only executive branch organization with a similar mission and function. Subsequently, oversight of DHS should be pared down to exactly six committees with three in the Senate and three in the House. Under this structure, in each chamber, the Homeland Security Committee, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Appropriations Committee would have oversight over the Department. Together with 14 subcommittees, this would bring the total number of committees and subcommittees with oversight of DHS to 26. Implementing such a structure would significantly reduce duplication and strengthen homeland security.





119! wallbash.gif

Here we see a classic example of what is wrong with Washington DC.

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