Homeland Defense:

DOD Needs to Take Actions to Enhance Interagency Coordination for Its Homeland Defense and Civil Support Missions

GAO-10-364: Published: Mar 30, 2010. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 2010.

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Numerous occurrences in the United States--both scheduled events and emergencies--require the Department of Defense (DOD) to coordinate, integrate, and synchronize its homeland defense and civil support missions with a broad range of U.S. federal agencies. In response to congressional inquiry, GAO examined the extent to which DOD has (1) identified clearly defined roles and responsibilities for DOD entities to facilitate interagency coordination for homeland defense and civil support missions, (2) articulated to its federal partners the DOD entities' approach toward interagency coordination, and (3) adopted key practices for managing homeland defense and civil support liaisons. GAO reviewed numerous DOD policy and guidance documents and interviewed officials from DOD and its partner agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture; and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

DOD has many strategy, policy, and guidance documents on interagency coordination for its homeland defense and civil support missions; however, DOD entities do not have fully or clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Key DOD documents are outdated, not integrated, or not comprehensive. Three separate directives, for example, respectively assign overlapping responsibilities related to law enforcement support to three different DOD entities. Because DOD's law enforcement support directive has not been updated or superseded since 1989, it is unclear which entity is responsible for certain coordination activities with law enforcement agencies. By updating, integrating, and ensuring the comprehensiveness of its strategy, policy, and guidance, DOD will be better positioned to enhance and institutionalize its interagency coordination efforts for homeland defense and civil support. DOD makes great effort to communicate with its federal partners through conferences and other forums and multiple documents, but it lacks a single, readily accessible source for its interagency partners to find needed information about its processes. The 2008 National Defense Strategy notes that a unified "whole-of-government" approach to national security issues requires that federal partner agencies understand core competencies, roles, and missions, and the National Response Framework highlights the value of using a common concise partner guide for this purpose. DOD's communication approach, however, relies largely on personal relationships that are subject to frequent rotation of both DOD and non-DOD personnel. DOD identified over 30 documents that embody its approach and processes for interagency coordination. A concise and readily accessible partner guide would provide incoming personnel from both DOD and other agencies information that could enhance their mutual understanding and facilitate a unified and institutionalized approach to interagency coordination. DOD has taken some actions to adopt key practices for managing homeland defense and civil support liaison personnel, but it has not fully implemented these practices. Key practices include situational awareness, staffing-needs assessments, position descriptions, training, and performance assessments. For example, while individual DOD entities may know the liaisons they have assigned to their federal partners, no single DOD entity knows the number or locations of all liaisons exchanged with other federal agencies. Also, while DOD policy recognizes the need to conduct personnel performance assessments, such assessments of its liaisons are not focused on coordination competencies, and DOD does not consistently request input from federal partners on the performance of its liaisons or provide feedback to its federal partners about their liaisons' performance. DOD could optimize its use of liaisons if it fully implemented current DOD human capital policies and issued policies and guidance for the remaining key practices identified above.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD has adopted and implemented key practices for managing homeland defense and civil support liaisons, the Secretary of Defense should direct ASD/HD, in coordination with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to establish a time line to ensure implementation of DOD's current instruction on the tracking of DOD liaisons assignments to other federal agencies, as well as the establishment of position descriptions for uniformed military and DOD civilian personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2012, DOD informed us that the department is developing a DOD Instruction to address this recommendation. DOD estimated that it will issue this Instruction in January 2013.

    Recommendation: To facilitate and institutionalize a unified approach between DOD and its federal partners for interagency coordination for homeland defense and civil support missions, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, in coordination with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to establish a time line to develop and issue a partner guide that identifies the roles and responsibilities of DOD entities, processes, and agreed-upon approaches for interagency coordination for homeland defense and civil support efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In November 2011, in response to our recommendation, DOD issued its Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) Interagency Partner Guide. A copy of the partner guide can be obtained on DOD's website at http://policy.defense.gov/hdasa/references/refdocs/dsca_interagency_partner_guide.pdf.

    Recommendation: To more clearly define roles and responsibilities for interagency coordination within DOD, the Secretary of Defense should establish a time line and update and ensure the integration and comprehensiveness of DOD policy and guidance that delineate the roles and responsibilities of and relationships between DOD entities, such as Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas' Security Affairs (ASD/HD), the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict and Interdependent Capabilities, the combatant commands, the National Guard Bureau, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and DOD intelligence agencies. Specifically, updates of such policy and guidance should include: (1) DOD's Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support; (2) DOD's law enforcement support policy (or policies) that address the different missions of such support, including civil support, counterdrug, and counterterrorism support; (3) DOD's series of civil support policies and guidance (i.e., DOD's directive and instruction 3025 series); (4) DOD's joint interagency coordination guidance (i.e., Joint Publication 3-08), ensuring sufficient and comprehensive coverage of homeland defense and civil support interagency coordination requirements and partners; and (5) a policy document that clearly and specifically defines the relationships among ASD/HD, NORTHCOM, and other combatant commanders, including interagency coordination and external communication roles and responsibilities for homeland defense and civil support.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2012, DOD had initiated or completed many of the actions identified within the recommendation and continues its work to address the remaining actions. Specifically, 1. DOD plans on issuing an updated version of the department?s Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support in the fall of 2012. 2. DOD had planned on issuing DOD Instruction 3025.ff, Defense Support of Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies in July 2012. However, as of November 7, 2012, the instruction had not been posted on DOD?s official website for DOD issuances (http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/). 3. DOD has updated several of its civil support policy and guidance series documents since our report was issued in January 2009. For example, DOD has updated DOD Directive 3025.18, Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) (Dec. 29, 2010); DOD Directive 3025.13, Employment of DOD Capabilities in Support of the U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (Oct. 8, 2010); DOD Instruction 3025.16, Defense Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer (EPLO) Programs (Sep. 6, 2011); DOD Instruction 3025.19, Procedures For Sharing Information with and Providing Support to the U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (Nov. 29, 2011); and DOD Instruction 3025.20, Defense Support of Special Events (Apr. 6, 2012). 4.In June 2011, DOD issued an updated version of Joint Publication 3-08, Interorganizational Coordination During Joint Operations, to provide joint doctrine for the coordination of military operations with US Government agencies; state, local, and tribal governments; intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector. As of July 2012, DOD is also in the process of updating Joint Publication 3-28, Civil Support, to provide overarching guidelines and principles to assist commanders and their staffs in planning and conducting joint civil support operations. 5.DOD has told us that a new policy document describing Office of the Secretary of Defense, Joint Staff, combatant command, Service, and Defense Agency interagency coordination and communication roles and responsibilities for homeland defense and civil support is in coordination. We will continue to monitor DOD's actions in response to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD has adopted and implemented key practices for managing homeland defense and civil support liaisons, the Secretary of Defense should direct ASD/HD, in coordination with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to establish a time line to develop and issue additional workforce management policy and guidance regarding DOD liaisons to other federal agencies, as well as other federal agencies' liaisons to DOD. Such policy and guidance should ensure that: (1) routine staffing-needs assessments are conducted; (2) position descriptions or memoranda of understanding are developed; (3) appropriate interagency coordination training is available to liaisons; and (4) routine performance assessments of liaison personnel are conducted, to include feedback from the host agency or component.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2012, DOD officials told us that the department is developing guidance that will address DOD liaisons sent to other federal agencies and other agencies' liaisons that are sent to DOD.

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