Advisers urge DHS chief to seek intel community’s support

In the face of increasing threats against the United States, the Homeland Security Department should push for greater integration with the intelligence community, members of an advisory panel said Thursday.

During a session open to the public, members of the Homeland Security Advisory Council told DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff he should create an "Office of Net Assessment" to better evaluate what experts called a growing sophistication by terrorist organizations. The office would conduct periodic reviews of homeland security threats and collaborate with the intelligence community to generate a National Intelligence Estimate.

The council is made up of leaders from state and local government, first responder communities, the private sector and academia.

Frank Cilluffo, associate vice president for homeland security at The George Washington University, said at the meeting that national security agencies and DHS are "inextricably intertwined" and that Chertoff should push to "remove the artificial bifurcation" among them.

During another part of the meeting, Herb Kelleher, executive chairman of Southwest Airlines Co., delivered a report offering suggestions on how DHS' operations and culture could be improved. He recommended that DHS seek "the equivalent" of a chief operating officer. He also advocated an emphasis on leadership roles and collaboration with "outside-the-Beltway" partners including state and local government officials and private sector officials.

Former Massachusetts governor and potential 2008 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also attended the meeting, expressing views of Boston's transit security that were much less optimistic than Chertoff's. The exchange came just two days after DHS announced it has cut funding available to Massachusetts in that area.

"We haven't made, I'm embarrassed to say, enormous progress … the way we have [in airports]," Romney told Chertoff during a question-and-answer session. The former governor went on to suggest that DHS compare security at train stations to the precautions taken in Europe -- which has seen multiple terrorist bombings in recent years -- to create a "benchmark" for security in the United States.

"We may lag behind," Romney said.

"You're giving your state too little credit," Chertoff responded.

The DHS chief said the "architecture" of transit systems differs from that of airports, "so the solution has to be different."

"I doubt anyone would get on the [Boston transit system] and remove their articles of clothing" the way airline passengers willingly do at security checkpoints, Chertoff added.

Following the meeting, Romney declined to comment further.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.