The State of Homeland Security 3.0

By Nadav Morag, Ph.D.

CTU Homeland Security Degree - Homeland Security 3.0On Feb. 26, 2013 the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Janet Napolitano, gave her third annual address on the state of homeland security at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.

The Last Four Years

Under her first four years as DHS secretary, Napolitano oversaw the broadening of the focus of homeland security. Focus went from a primary interest in terrorism and counterterrorism to coping with threats such as natural disasters and allocating resources based on an assessment of risks and vulnerabilities. In providing examples in the use of risk-based methodologies, the secretary pointed to the issues of terrorism, border security, immigration enforcement, cybersecurity, and disaster preparedness and response, suggesting that she views these as priority areas for her second term.

The Next Four Years

Napolitano also charted out the near-term future of the Department of Homeland Security, something she refers to as “DHS 3.0.” She pointed out that the watchwords of DHS 3.0 will be “agility, resilience, engagement and integration.” The secretary noted that risk-based approaches to planning and budgeting will be even more crucial. Napolitano hinted that the old DHS approach to looking at issues in a one-size-fits-all lens will no longer be feasible.

For example, she referred to the issue of TSA pre-check initiatives and Global Entry for foreign travelers entering the US. These will be expanded because they focus on easing air travel for those deemed less of a risk. She similarly noted that law enforcement efforts should focus on illegal immigrants that constitute national security or public safety threats rather than spending much time dealing with illegal economic migrants who pose little risk to the country.

The secretary closed by noting that public engagement will be high on the list of their priorities. The focus will be both on pulling information (e.g., obtaining information from the public about things like suspicious activities, the impact of a disaster or public health emergency in a given area, etc.), as well as pushing information (such as providing public safety information during emergencies).


Napolitano’s DHS 3.0 doesn’t posit a radical departure from the manner in which it does business, or the way that it is organized. It does, however, represent a logical evolution of the department’s resources and areas of focus. The money and resources put into the hands of the department, which allowed it to create broad policies that it applied across the board, are no longer available in today’s Washington, DC. Moreover, many of DHS’s policies, such as treating all airline passengers as potentially equal threats to aviation security, didn’t make sense. Certain policies were a waste of resources and caused inconvenience and economic hardship to the public.

Consequently, DHS 3.0 really represents a maturing of the homeland security field and an understanding that resources need to be applied where the risk is greatest, and where the consequence of damage and disruption, whether by terrorists, a natural disaster, a disease outbreak or other threat, is most significant.

Image credit: Flickr/thisisbossi