PNSR Releases Report on the Status of Reform of U.S. National Security

October 27, 2009 in News, Report by admin

The latest report from the Project on National Security Reform, Turning Ideas in Action, gauges progress in national security reform in the Executive Branch and Congress, reiterates and refines recommendations from PNSR’s previous report, Forging a New Shield, and outlines specific next steps that must be taken by the government to implement systemic transformation.

Download executive summary here.

Findings and messages:

• Reform is underway. Progress is being made toward a national security system able to respond more effectively to 21st-Century challenges and opportunities. The vision is a collaborative, agile, and innovative national security system that horizontally and vertically integrates all elements of national power.

• President Obama supports national security reform. He and others in the administration have spoken of the complex challenges facing the United States and the need for change. Initial steps have been taken, but the system remains stove piped rather than an integrated, horizontal interagency collaboration. The system lacks unity of purpose and strategic direction, partially because strategy and resources are not aligned. Further, all elements of national power are not routinely considered in decisions and strategies. Also of note: Congress lacks the proper structure to exercise oversight of interagency activities.

• Rhetoric and initial steps are not enough. It’s time to stop talking and start doing national security reform. The broken system must be fixed. We cannot afford to handle the next crisis poorly, nor be unprepared for it.

• Specific steps can be taken now on the path to reform by the President and other key players. They are listed in the executive summary and conclusion of Turning Ideas Into Action.

• Reform will take sustained effort and leadership. It is time for champions to step forward and push it to the next level. PNSR stands ready to assist, as it continues to work on implementation with stakeholders across the whole reform front.

Since release last fall of its seminal report on national security reform, Forging a New Shield, PNSR has been working on the implementation phase.

Specific initiatives include:

• Redesign of the National Security staff in order to facilitate end-to-end management of interagency processes

• Development of the interagency system, especially human capital system and information sharing

• Next Generation State – reform of the State Department structure and processes

• Focus on empowered interagency teams, such as the Directorate of Strategic Operational Planning of the National Counterterrorism Center

• National Preparedness System to strengthen integrated intergovernmental homeland security planning

Turning Ideas Into Action is the statement of what PNSR hopes to achieve in reforming the United States’ critically important, yet lumbering and outdated, national security system. National security reform affects every citizen of the United States—the necessary changes may be esoteric and bureaucratic in nature, but the end result is a more effective government for a safer America.