Thirteen years after its creation and eight months before it gets turned over to a new administration, the Homeland Security Department on Wednesday unveiled a new, slimmed-down mission statement. It reads: “With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland and our values.”
Secretary Jeh Johnson said, “This statement is intended to reflect the views and the values of our employees, and to be in their voice, not mine. Almost 3,000 of our people answered my call for ideas for our mission statement, and we received many thoughtful answers. Across all components, the three words most often invoked in the submissions were ‘honor,’ ‘integrity,’ and ‘safeguard.’ ”
He added: “My hope is that our people will see it as the capstone of our Unity of Effort initiative, and our unifying mission statement for now and long after I am Secretary of Homeland Security.”
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The word “values,” Johnson stressed, references “our missions to preserve and promote this nation’s immigrant heritage and humanitarian spirit, as well as the freedoms and civil liberties we must balance and preserve in the pursuit of our security mission.” He consulted three previous Homeland Security secretaries before finalizing the wording.
The previous mission statement of Homeland Security, which consolidated 22 agencies and 226,000 employees after the 9/11 attacks, was three sentences:
We will lead efforts to achieve a safe, secure, and resilient homeland. We will counter terrorism and enhance our security; secure and manage our borders; enforce and administer our immigration laws; protect cyber networks and critical infrastructure; and ensure resilience from disasters. We will accomplish these missions while providing essential support to national and economic security and maturing and strengthening the Department of Homeland Security and the homeland security enterprise.
Many but not all of DHS’ agencies have their own mission statements.