Homeland Security: The Presidential Coordination Office [Updated February 4, 2004]   [open pdf - 86KB]

Responding to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President George W. Bush, among other actions, announced in his September 20 address to a joint session of Congress, his intention to create an Office of Homeland Security (OHS), headed by a director who would have Cabinet rank and would report directly to the President. OHS, as subsequently chartered with E.O. 13228 of October 8, 2001, is an agency of the Executive Office of the President. The success of this office as a coordinator of federal preparations and response to terrorism, including the development of a comprehensive National Strategy for Homeland Security, may be guided by past experience with similar such entities. This report reviews past experience principally with the Office of War Mobilization and its successor, the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion and its significance for OHS, as well as the administrative development of the new agency. That OHS was not altogether successful in its efforts at homeland security leadership may have prompted the President to propose the creation of a Department of Homeland Security in June 2002. However, during the course of the establishment of the department, attempts to replace or recharter OHS legislatively were not successful. The establishment of the new department and the new Homeland Security Council appear to have diminished the role of OHS by assuming some of its functions. Although a presidential assistant for homeland security may be retained in the White House, the continued need for OHS is less certain.

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL31148
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