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Homeland Security and Internal Cooperation Essay

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Updated: Jan 8th, 2021

Introduction

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is an organization, concerned with problems that are connected to keeping the country safe. According to the mission statement, the primary objective of the institution is to “ensure a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards” (“Our Mission,” 2016, page 1). For such an influential organization, good cooperation within it is key to successful operations.

The result can be achieved through proper leadership. The DHS has some problems within the organization that limit its capabilities. For long periods, the top positions at the agency were vacant or occupied by temporary workers. Naylor (2013) states that not having permanent leaders in key positions reflects adversely on the DHS. Also, DHS is responsible for handling issues that differ in nature, which makes it difficult to manage the cooperation within it.

The motivation of the employees is affected negatively by the problems that the department faces. This problem is reflected in the rankings for the best places to work at, in which DHS remains at the bottom of the list (Naylor, 2013). Finally, most top positions are occupied by employees that fulfill the function of managers and supervisors and not leaders. The mentioned issues should be addressed through proper leadership as it is the core of the problems that the DHS faces. The Department of Homeland Security has been struggling to achieve its mission efficiently due to the lack of leadership and leadership challenges that it faces.

Background Information about the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

The organization was formed as a response to the September 11 attacks (Naylor, 2013). Thus, the primary motive behind creating the department was to have an institution that can serve to protect America from various threats. As DHS states, they are concerned with broad areas of activity (“Our Mission,” 2016). Also, the department employs people from various backgrounds, including employees from the private sector, governmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations. It can be argued that managing such a complex organization with a broad spectrum of responsibilities and a diverse workforce is complicated and should involve competent executives that can ensure the cooperation within the DHS.

Among the responsibilities of the DHS, there are many, while the department states that they strive “to prevent, to protect, to respond, and to recover, as well as to build in security, to ensure resilience, and to facilitate customs and exchange” (“Our Mission,” 2016, page 1). This includes areas from border control to handling natural disasters. It can be argued that combining organizations that had been concerned with the issue that differs significantly was an incorrect step as the DHS is responsible for every aspect of security in the country. More specifically, the DHS Secretary and DHS Deputy Secretary’s main job objective is to ensure that the mission of the organization is carried out properly.

Currently, Kirstjen Nielsen (“Leadership,” n.d.) occupies the top executive position in the DHS. While the mission and work of the DHS are vital for the country, several aspects need to be improved for DHS to function correctly. Recently, the DHS has been criticized for its performance by many people in the US (Miller, 2016). The issues need to be addressed as they obstruct the efficiency of the DHS’s operations.

As the DHS states, it employs “hundreds of thousands of people” in different locations and from different specializations which enables it to efficiently carry out its mission (“Our Mission,” 2016, p. 1). These people have various tasks, including communicating with the public about the DHS. Also, the DHS emphasizes that these employees “must have a clear sense of what it takes to achieve the overarching vision articulated above” (“Our Mission,” 2016, p. 1). Thus, the essential component of DHS success is its people who are responsible for executing daily tasks.

DHS is Struggling to Recruit and Retain Employees

The institution seems to be struggling with recruiting and retaining the workforce. In 2013, after four years of working in DHS, Janet Napolitano had stepped down from the top position at the organization (Naylor, 2013). At the same time, the DHS had 15 open positions in various departments. As Naylor stated, having no permanent leaders with the amount of responsibility the DHS has cannot be easy.

Both the president and the Congress were pressured to solve the issue as soon as possible, making it evident that the DHS is struggling to fulfill its mission (Naylor, 2013). A lot of other job positions were filled by temporary workers, who have been doing their work in such a manner for years. For example, in 2013 a person who was hired to work in the DHS temporarily has occupied the position of Inspector General for almost four years (Naylor, 2013).

The vital question of why DHS struggles to find people who can be entirely devoted to the department’s work arises from these problems. Additionally, the aspect of retaining the employed becomes evident with the departure of Napolitano. Thus, it is clear that the DHS has to improve the hiring policies and address the issues that the employees have regarding the workplace.

It can be argued that without a solid top management team the organization cannot operate. People that are in the place of a leader for a limited time will not have the same motivation and vision as those who are hired for long periods. Naylor (2013) argues that the current state of employment in the DHS obstructs the ability of the organization to respond to challenges and create long-term goals.

Therefore, the inability of DHS to find people and ensure that they remain in their position is causing issues within the institution. “Department leadership must commit itself to ensure DHS operates more as a single entity rather than a collection of components” (Homeland Security, 2017, p. 1). This is impossible to do with people who know they can be replaced in a limited amount of time. Additionally, the leaders of DHS must understand the problems the organization has with the employees.

DHS Responsibilities Include a Broad Spectrum of Issues

The organization is responsible for many security issues, which makes it difficult to manage it properly. Although the primary objective of DHS is the security of the country, when examining the mission closely it becomes evident that the institution is responsible for unrelated problems. Managing any organization is difficult, let alone leading an organization with a broad spectrum of responsibilities. The organizational chart of the DHS illustrates the complexity of the agency (“U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” 2018). The current leader of the DHS – the Secretary, has to communicate with 22 offices that are responsible for different aspects of security in the US. As was previously mentioned, some of these departments lack permanent leaders, which further worsens the cooperation.

When Congress first created the DHS, 22 agencies (e.g., Coast Guard and Secret Service) were merged into one (Naylor, 2013). In addition to the differences in responsibilities and work objectives between those federal agencies, the bureaucracy that has emerged from the DHS’s formation has been a problem as well. Naylor (2013) described the agency as “bureaucracy charged” because of how the organization currently operates.

It can be argued that the initial approach that the DHS has taken to its operations has proven to be ineffective. Implementing a reform that would divide the DHS does not seem possible, as the primary objective of the DHS creation was to consolidate the security agencies of the country into one. However, it would make it easier to manage the agency. Alternatively, the DHS can work on creating a different structure and connection between the departments as well as on the leadership approach to counteract the problems that currently exist. The vast amount of issues that DHS is concerned with makes it difficult for a leader to manage the institution efficiently.

DHS Leadership Issues Affect Employee’s Motivation

The employees are essential assets that contribute to the success of the company. In the case of the DHS, it requires people who can “bounce back from and grow in the face of chronic and acute stressors or adversity” (Institute of Medicine, 2013, p. 15). Lack of leadership is causing issues in the workforce, which impacts the efficiency of DHS. According to the Institute of Medicine (2013), the institution is one of the most significant federal agencies in the country. However, the surveys display the lowest levels of morale among all organizations. The issue can be connected to the bad leadership that DHS is struggling with.

Weak leaders are a contributing factor to workplace stressors (among workload, role conflict, schedules, and others) (Institute of Medicine, 2013). Also, if people do not perceive a company or an organization as a good one to work for, their motivation will likely be lowered. According to surveys by the Partnership for Public Service, Homeland Security ranks at the bottom of its list of the best places to work (Naylor, 2013).

This issue can be connected to poor leadership as well. In general, federal agencies’ leaders are not perceived as well as performing. However, in the case of DHS, the evaluation done by the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) showed that since 2003 scores for leadership have dropped significantly since 2003 (Institute of Medicine, 2013). The perception of the leaders by the employees is essential, and in the case of DHS, it is not good.

However, the DHS has tried to counteract the particular problem. In 2009 the DHS Together Employee and Organizational Resilience initiative were implemented to help the employees with the struggles they have in the workplace (Institute of Medicine, 2013).

Nevertheless, the issue of workforce motivation and resilience remains among the critical problems in the DHS. The program was put together quickly in response to the low scores in workplace satisfaction surveys. It lacked a strategic plan and a vision for future development (Institute of Medicine, 2013). Thus, the program has proven to be ineffective in performing its primary objective. The DHS Together Employee and Organizational Resilience initiative have shown that the agency lacks leaders that can be responsible for creating and implementing programs for the employees.

DHS Managers and Supervisors

The DHS employs people that can be described as managers or supervisors, not leaders. Institute of Medicine (2013) stated that surveys that were performed in the agency to evaluate the quality of leadership showed that the “quality of leaders varies widely(p. 1). Furthermore, in any organization, it is essential to distinguish between leaders and managers. The latter cannot motivate the employees or encourage them to work more effectively. The DHS survey revealed that “in various sites, many supervisors are managers as opposed to leaders” (Institute of Medicine, 2013, p. 1). Also, the employees were concerned that the management did not recognize their strengths nor did they value them. The leadership issue is evident in this case and can affect the work results.

The office of inspector general of DHS has issued a statement, to address the problem. “Department leadership must establish and enforce a strong internal control environment typical of a more mature organization.” (Homeland Security, 2017, p. 4). This should be done through recruiting proper leaders that can benefit the organization. In such case, the internal control will be in place, and the investment that the agency receives for its programs and operations will be both efficient and effective (Homeland Security, 2017). The current practice that the DHS applies to its top executive is ineffective and needs to be changed.

According to Miller (2016), the first generation of executives that were in charge of DHS are now leaving the organization. The departure presents an opportunity to apply changes in how the organization approaches leadership training. The changes need to be made in both how the DHS recruits its executives and how it trains them to become an efficient part of the agency, thus ensuring proper cooperation within the DHS.

Counterarguments

It can be argued that although there are many issues within the DHS, the organization has a well-developed mission and vision statements. This should serve as a guide for employees that are the ones protecting the country every day. Leaders are mainly concerned with organizational issues; they do not perform the actual tasks that are part of the mission of the DHS. Therefore, the employees should not be affected by the constant replacements of managers and other issues.

However, as was mentioned before, DHS ranks at the very bottom of the list of employee satisfaction. As the Institute of Medicine (2013) stated, “effective leadership, strong communication, and a common core culture … are the building blocks of a successful organization and are necessary if programs in the organization are to be implemented successfully” (para. 15). Therefore, without resolving these problems, the DHS will not be able to function correctly.

Also, it can be argued that while the department is concerned with various issues, it is organized to ensure that problems of similar nature are handled separately and adequately. As refracted in the DHS organizational chart, it is divided into several departments, each concerned with a specific issue (“U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” 2018). Thus, the organization should not experience problems because of the diversity of tasks it has to perform.

However, it is evident that although the functions of the DHS are well structured and distributed among the departments, the cooperation within the workforce is an issue. The problem revolves around improper leadership and the relationship between the executives and the workforce. Furthermore, Naylor (2013) argues that through job satisfaction rankings the employees of the DHS communicate that the organization is not providing them with what they need to ensure they perform well in their workplace. Therefore, it is evident that the current structure and workforce organization requires intervention and improvement.

Consecutive summary

Overall, the DHS is facing many issues that affect the efficiency of the agencies’ work. Most of the problems are connected with the leadership and how the organization is managed. It can be argued that the employees should perform their tasks regardless of who is in charge of the DHS. Additionally, the organization is structured in a way, which identifies the issues a particular part of the DHS has to deal with.

However, the surveys point out that the institution ranks at the bottom of the places to work at. The issues that the DHS has to solve are the lack of people that occupy top management positions permanently, as those who are in a position temporarily cannot create a compelling vision for the employees. Secondly, the organization has to structure its responsibilities more effectively, as it is in charge of many security aspects. Thirdly, the employee satisfaction at DHS is low, mainly due to improper leadership. The employees do not feel as they are valued which affects their motivation. Finally, the existing leaders perform managerial roles instead of encouraging the DHS to work for a common goal. The DHS has to improve its structure and approach to hiring and training leaders to succeed in efficiently performing its tasks.

References

Institute of Medicine. (2013). A ready and resilient workforce for the department of homeland security: protecting America’s front line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Homeland Security. (2017). Major Management and Performance Challenges Facing the Department of Homeland Security. Web.

. (n.d.). Web.

Miller, J. (2016). . Web.

Naylor, T. (2013). . National Public Radio. Web.

Our Mission. (2016). Web.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2018). Web.

The Revision

The paper was revised according to the received comments. Additionally, some information was added to strengthen the arguments that were presented. Firstly, according to the professor’s instructions, the in-text citations were revised according to the APA citation style. In some parts of the text, the paragraph number had to be replaced with page numbers. In the introductory paragraph, relevant information from the sources that help introduce the problem was added. The section focuses on explaining briefly the mission of the DHS and the issues that are discussed in the paper. Additionally, more information about the employees was added to emphasize the diversity of the workforce and struggles that the leadership faces because of it.

The thesis statement has not been changed as it communicates the idea of the essay adequately. Additional supporting points were added in the part that discusses the inability of the DHS to recruit and retain the workforce. The paragraph was divided into two sections, the first one focuses on explaining the issue in detail and the second part describes what problems are caused by it. At the end of the paragraph, a transitional sentence that connects the section to the next piece of the paper and the thesis statement was added. In the following items, the additional information and transitional sentences were added as well to add cohesiveness to the essay.

An example of the DHS Together Employee and Organizational Resilience initiative that illustrates the efforts of the agency to improve the situation was attached. Valuable lessons that can be learned from this example were discussed. The counterarguments section was revised as previously it contained only one argument. Overall, the paper’s structure and the main arguments remained unchanged. Relevant information was added to the body of the essay.

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