ABSTRACT

Is a Goldwater-Nichols Act Needed for Homeland Security?   [open pdf - 109KB]

This report is part of chapter two of five chapters in the series: Threats at Our Threshold: Homeland Defense and Homeland Security in the New Century: A Compilation of the Proceedings of the First Annual Homeland Defense and Homeland Security Conference. The following is taken from the introduction of the report: "The Goldwater-Nichols legislation that was enacted into law in 1986 is widely viewed as largely responsible for the most significant reform of the Department of Defense (DoD) since the National Security Act of 1946. While not without substantial flaws, the DoD is generally seen as a highly capable cabinet agency; one that is extremely mission-oriented and able to achieve tangible results while other federal departments often lack operational capacity. Five years after the 9/11 attacks, and one year after the disappointing governmental response to Hurricane Katrina, many in the national security community are asking whether a Goldwater-Nichols type reform is needed for the nation's homeland security system. From the dysfunction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to the continuing interagency battles about roles, responsibilities and budget share, it is clear that the United States does not yet have a comprehensive, cohesive and competent system to ensure the security of the homeland. When considering whether a Goldwater-Nichols type reform would be useful or appropriate, it is useful to reflect on the major achievements of the original Goldwater-Nichols Act and how it might or might not translate into the homeland security arena."

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