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9/11 anniversary highlights DHS unfinished business

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On the anniversary of 9/11, 21 years after the horrific attacks on our country, we know that we still have a lot to do, especially to protect our nation from catastrophic global threats. It reminds me. I am honored and honored to have served President Bush and Homeland Security Advisor Gov. I am thinking. After Governor Ridge left Pennsylvania to take over as Homeland Security leader at his House in White, he and our team were met with a surging anthrax attack on the first day. We had more questions than answers, and we quickly realized that our global catastrophic risk capabilities were seriously flawed.

At the time, I was serving as Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security. As part of my responsibilities, I spent a year in a situation room briefed daily on national security threats related to our homeland.

My friends would often ask me what ‘frightened’ me the most, and I would always answer: It’s a biological threat.

Years later, the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet ready to act decisively in a well-planned federal response to a catastrophic global event on the impact of our nation and the world. human suffering and staggering economic costs make it clear that a global catastrophic risk strategy becomes a viable and well-funded national priority. must be requested.

The original blueprint and charter act for creating the Department of Homeland Security included the establishment of the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA). HSARPA’s vision was to build on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) model to conduct the necessary research and translate that research into necessary solutions to homeland security challenges. world. DARPA is known above all for being visionary. It is also organized so that the team has not only a management role, but also strong funding and flexibility in procurement to maximize success. However, for myriad reasons, HSARPA falls far short of emulating this model.

Many think tanks, legislators and former DHS officials have commented that HSARPA lacks a specific focus. Biodefense requires him components of HHS and DOD, but DHS should be a vital part of this Threat Matrix team and HSARPA should be seen as the leader and vital link.

In the recently released First Annual Report on Progress Toward Implementation of America’s Pandemic Preparedness Plan, the Biden administration listed increasing investment in biodefense R&D spending among its priorities. I’m here. In addition, Congress is currently considering ways to strengthen the mission of DHS’s Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction. However, so far there has been little focus on issues within HSARPA and the Directorate General of Science and Technology.

First and foremost, HSARPA should conduct HSARPA’s Net Mission Assessment, which assesses the current threat landscape and provides HSARPA’s direction, vision, and new mission statement. Projects are funded, but not in the context of meeting a specific strategy. As with DARPA, developing a long-term professional management and procurement strategy strategy is also key to future success. And, of course, Congress will need to fund much more for the DHS founder to achieve the goals intended by her HSARPA.

I still see DHS as the new federal bureaucracy that needs to be able to adapt based on lessons learned. The concept of creating HSARPA was a good idea in 2001, but we as a country need to do more to realize our goals so that we can better protect the American people.

Ridge Policy Group partner Mark Holman served as President George W. Bush’s Deputy Homeland Security Advisor after the 9/11 attacks.