The Project on National Security Reform Releases Recommendations Urging Sweeping Changes to Improve U.S. National Security System

December 3, 2008 in News, Report by admin

Download the full report here

Download the executive summary here

WASHINGTON– The national security system must be massively reorganized if federal agencies are to cooperate and collaborate more effectively to combat the multitude of threats facing the U.S. in the 21st century, according to recommendations released today by the Project on National Security Reform (PNSR).

The PNSR recommendations outlined in Forging A New Shield would replace a national security system created 60 years ago, that despite many marginal attempts to reform, often discourages agencies from working together on joint assignments and policy implementation to respond to crises and effectively manage national security affairs.

The recommendations comprise a broad set of mandates to improve the national security system by streamlining integrated strategy and policy among agencies and programs, improving coordination with a newly established network for sharing information, providing better job training for employees and consolidating Congressional oversight, the report says.

Among the PNSR’s key recommendations are:

• Establishing a President’s Security Council to replace the National Security Council and Homeland Security.
• Creating an empowered Director for National Security in the Executive Office of the President.
• Initiating the process of shifting highly collaborative, mission-focused interagency teams for priority issues.
• Mandating annual National Security Planning Guidance and an integrated national security budget.
• Building an interagency personnel system, including a National Security Professional Corps.
• Establishing a Chief Knowledge Officer in the PSC Executive Secretariat to ensure that the national security system as a whole can develop, store, retrieve and share knowledge.
• Forming Select Committees on National Security in the Senate and House of Representatives.

“To respond effectively and efficiently to the complex, rapidly changing threats and challenges of the 21st century security environment requires tight integration of the expertise and capabilities of many diverse departments and agencies,” says PNSR Executive Director James R. Locher III. “Current organizational arrangements provide only weak mechanism for such integration.”

PNSR’s Locher presented the recommendations today during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The 800-page report culminates two years of study in which more than 300 national security experts identified the problems within the system, and produced more than 100 case studies to document the research and analysis.

Since the passage of the National Security Act in 1947, the world has changed dramatically from the single Cold War threat to a multitude of diverse challenges – ranging from rogue regimes to terrorists to transnational criminals. The terrorist attacks of 9/11, troubled stability operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina provide compelling evidence of the inadequacy of the current system.

Twenty-two members of the PNSR Guiding Coalition, which includes former senior federal officials with extensive national security experience, unanimously agreed that the U.S. national security system needs reform. Joining Locher at the conference were Guiding Coalition members former U.S. Pacific Commander-in-Chief Dennis G. Blair, former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Admiral James M. Loy, former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John McLaughlin and former Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Thomas Pickering.

“The focus must shift to national missions and outcomes,” says Admiral James M. Loy, former deputy secretary of Homeland Security. “This will require strategic direction to produce unity of purpose and more collaboration to achieve unity of effort.”

Through its research and analysis, PNSR has determined the following problems with the current system:

• The system is grossly imbalanced, favoring strong departmental capabilities at the expense of integrating mechanism.
• Executive Branch department and agencies are shaped by their narrowly defined core mandates rather than by the requisites of broader national missions.
• The need for presidential integration to compensate for the systematic inability to integrate or resource missions overly centralizes issues management and overburdens the White House.
• A burdened White House cannot manage the national security system as a whole to be agile and collaborative at any time, but it is particularly vulnerable to breakdown during protracted transition periods between administrations.
• Congress provides resources and conducts oversight in ways that reinforce all these problems and make improving performance extremely difficult.

Judith Evans
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