American Internal Security

American Internal Security



Table of Contents

Introduction. 1

Alignment to Strategy and Mission. 1

How DHS Addresses Six Elements of Structure. 2

DHS Size, Technology and Environment 4

Recommendations. 5

Conclusion. 6

References. 7

American Internal Security


            Organizational structure refers to the way in which different activities including allocation of tasks, supervision and management are directed to realize the overall organizational goals. The structure is also the best way through which organization can be perceived from the public eye. The Department of Homeland Security is one of the most prominent sections of the United States government that has undergone significant changes particularly after the September 11 attacks. The national security breaches had the effect of placing substantial doubt on the effectiveness of the previous departments instituted to deal with the security needs. This paper is designed to analyze the structural aspects of the department and come up with relevant recommendations towards improving its structures.

Alignment to Strategy and Mission

            The mission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is “to ensure a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards.” In other words, the department is responsible for ensuring that the American citizens are safe from internal and external threats that disrupt the ordinary operation (Colvin, & Taylor, 2012). The core functions of the department are security, resilience, and customs and exchange. Several thousand employees affiliated to the federal, local and territorial governments, as well as the private sector are charged responsible for implementing diverse directives (Haulley, 2006). In terms of alignment with the strategy and mission, the Department of Homeland Security is closely aligned with the core objectives of avoiding terrorism attacks, securing the nation’s borders, administer the immigration laws and limiting the effect of disasters. Therefore, the DHS was created to fill a significant gap that existed in terms of ensuring security needs. Since it started operations, DHS has executed several local security operations and accomplished significant objectives and milestones (Haulley, 2006). As the agency continues to develop, however, more work avails itself for the agency particularly in its operational and implementation endeavors.

How DHS Addresses Six Elements of Structure

The Department of Homeland Security captures a wide assortment of operational and support units that address area such as customs, immigration, transportation, health and policy issues among others. Work specialization can be defined as the amount to which responsibilities are separated into different jobs within an organization. The main concept of this design is that several duties are not carried out by one individual (Warner, 2010). It is separated into steps, and different people are awarded the responsibility across the steps. The department addresses work specialization needs in several ways (Haulley, 2006). The whole department is categorized into major units that are further subdivided into smaller units that specialize on various public issues. These subsidiaries include different national departments that cover a wide variety of areas including health, immigration, and security.

DHS is designed in such a way that uses work specialization to separate major duties into smaller and detailed ones allocating them to offices within the same line. Additionally, DHS also created a system through which inter-agency coordination could occur. For instance, the department experiences regular liaison between United States Secret Service (USSS) and Office of Operations Coordination in matters concerning the travel plans for dignitaries such as the president. Specialization is one of the major elements that have been implemented within the DHS with the advantage of maintaining a large number of employees.

This first aspect of organizational design is closely related to departmentalization. This refers to the criteria through which jobs are categorized. The DHS has adopted the functional departmentalization in categorizing their major functions. This strategy lumps together the major functions of the department according to the roles they play within the greater organization. For instance, the United States Secret Service has several other departments that protect the nation in a manner that maintains the economic stability (Haulley, 2006). The unit also protects presidents, visiting heads of state and other important people such as ambassadors.

In terms of dealing with the chain of command, the Department of Homeland Security possesses a top-down hierarchy that determines the flow of authority. The DHS is headed by the secretary and deputy secretary. Under the secretary are the various secretarial heads of the different agencies. There have been significant issues with the unification of the 22 agencies to cooperate as a single unit (Philpott, 2015). Calls for the creation of more direct lines of power to the DHS secretary are also rife. On numerous occasions, the different agencies are forced to follow a long and bureaucratic path to reach the top offices. The resultant situation is that most of the agencies experience substantial problems that directly affect their productivity. They have witnessed budgetary cuts, increased workload as well as conflicting and overlapping directives from higher up the chain of command (Haulley, 2006). The significance of authority in the chain of command is constantly observed in the DHS. Since it deals with security, the DHS relies heavily on giving and executing orders without deliberation. The principle of unity of command is also an important aspect of the DHS that restricts the flow of communications and ideas up and down the departmental structure (Betts, 2007).

The span of control is a significant element of the organizational structure. Within the DHS, the issue of span of control is responsible for the creation of an enormous organization that has numerous levels and secretaries. The development of the DHS was founded on an unstable strategy that involved collecting all the available federal employees and relocating them into the new bureaucracy. The Bush administration was responsible for creating an institution with a unique and chaotic span of control. This implies that combining all the different unrelated functions in one office creates an opportunity for failure (Haulley, 2006). The sheer size and scope of the DHS could qualify it as part of America’s problem. In terms of expenditure, the DHS is not affiliated to other security agencies such as CIA, FBI or NSA. This duplication of duties and infrastructure places a greater burden on the United States. Additionally, the addition of political factor such as Congressmen and this has only contributed towards a bloated institution. The DHS workforce grew drastically from 160,000 workers in 2004 to 190,000 over a decade. Apart from sheer size, DHS suffers from inefficiency originating from poor management (Michaels, 2007).

DHS Size, Technology and Environment

Technology is a central factor in the current security environment. The DHS has a science and technology sector that addresses these types of threats by developing technological advancements that can counter the rising cases of cyber crime (Haulley, 2006). The science and technology sector mission serves the innovative needs of the DHS. Most of the technology developed by the department is implemented in securing the different areas administered by DHS. For instance, the agency has created solutions to counter chemical and biological threats as well as the countermeasures for security situations having explosives (Betts, 2007). Some of the most common technological solutions include extraction technology, datacasting technology, and simulation engines that enhance the quality and efficiency of the DHS. With the increase in the usage of the internet, more Americans are exposed to criminal activity that can affect their financial and social stature. In terms of the DHS environment, it suffices to mention that the department operates in the face of significant political influence. The Congress has a massive influence on the amount of expenditure, the top leadership as well as the main objectives of the institution. After the September 11 attacks, Congress was influential in determining the main agendas for DHS that included strengthening immigration policies, enforcing heightened cyber crime countermeasures and increasing the expenditure of intelligence research (Betts, 2007).


These recommendations are vital changes in creating the appropriate structures within the Department of Homeland Security specifically one that is lasting and effective. The record of accomplishments in the last decade is offers a wealth of information for the path that the department will assume in the future. One of the major recommendations that can improve the DHS structures is the elimination of politics from the department. Homeland Security is highly susceptible to politics in the same manner as other arms of the government. Congress and other non-governmental organizations have different interests that seek out finances and support. Political entities are responsible for creating and enacting policies that demand unachievable objectives (Haulley, 2006). Separating the functions of the mainstream political entities and those of the Department of Homeland Security is necessary.

Another recommendation that can significantly improve DHS structures is eliminating elements of complacency. The current security situation has diverse national security interests presented by competing public agencies and the Americans. The United States has adopted a complacent approach by concentrating on the past security problems. It is necessary to adopt a realistic outlook concerning security measures instead of focusing on staying ahead of the new security threats that America faces on a constant basis. The change in approaches should become more progressive and focus on strengthening the existing security platforms. Having an active interest in developing improved techniques of preventing and mitigating security issues is a guaranteed way of ensuring that America stays ahead of other countries (Betts, 2007). Terrorism continues to evolve at a rapid rate fuelled by increased funding and technology making it necessary to change the DHS outlook.


            Government examinations habitually conclude that the DHS has failed in terms of limiting their squander and public resource mismanagement. On several accounts, DHS has been labeled as a high-risk agency because of its failure to evaluate different projects with the intention of balancing the benefits and costs rigorously. Additionally, the lower level agencies such as FEMA, FLETC and CBP that are categorized under DHS are equally dysfunctional in the delivery of their prescribed duties (Haulley, 2006). Regardless of the insignificant performance of the DHS, it has continued to seek support from the government as well as Congress. Additionally, DHS has also extended its mission to include other related agencies. The future of DHS is fixed. It is difficult to eliminate such an institution. However, it is possible that DHS can be restructured to suit the current and future needs of the United States.


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Betts, R. K. (2007). Enemies of intelligence: Knowledge and power in American national security. New York: Columbia University Press.

Colvin, H. M., & Taylor, R. M. (2012). Building a resilient workforce: Opportunities for the Department of Homeland Security: workshop summary. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

Haulley, F. (2006). The Department of Homeland Security. New York: Rosen Pub. Group.

Michaels, C. W. (2007). No Greater Threat: America after September 11 and the Rise of a National Security State. New York: Algora Pub.

Philpott, D. (2015). Understanding the Department of Homeland Security. Lanham, Maryland: Bernan Press.

Warner, J. A. (2010). U.S. border security: A reference handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

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