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 Key DOD documents are outdated, not integrated, or not comprehensive.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 Because DOD's law enforcement support directive has not been updated or superseded since 1989, it is unclear which entity is responsible for certain coordination activities with law enforcement agencies.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.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, DOD issued the following strategies, polcies, guidance, and joint doctrine documents: (a)an updated Homeland Defense and Civil Support Strategy; (b) DOD Directive 3025.18, Defense Support of Civil Authorities; (c) DOD Directive 3025.13, Employment of DOD Capabilities in Support of the U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS); (c) DOD Instruction 3025.19, Procedures for Sharing Information with and Providing Support to the U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Department Of Homeland Security (DHS); (d) DOD Instruction 3025.20, Defense Support of Special Events; (e) DOD Instruction 3025.21, Defense Support for Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies; (f) an updated Joint Publication 3-08, Interorganizational Coordination During Joint Operations, in June 2011; and (g) an updated Joint Publication 3-28, Defense Support of Civil Authorities, in July 2013. We believe these actions meet the intent of our recommendation and that DOD is better positioned to enhance and institutionalize its interagency coordination efforts for homeland defense and civil support.

    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

  2. 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. We believe this action meets the intent of our recommendation and that the guide will 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.

    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

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, in October 2013, the Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security signed an updated memorandum of agreement that addressed the exchange of liaisons within the national capital region. Appendix A of the agreement identifies the descriptions of all DOD liaisons authorized to represent a DOD component at DHS headquarters. In an effort to manage the number of liaisons at DHS headquarters, the agreement stipulates that liaisons must be specifically referenced in Appendix A if the liaisons are to remain at DHS within the national capital region. Additional liaisons cannot be added without amending the memorandum of agreement. We believe that this agreement addresses a significant number of liaisons (i.e. more than 100 DOD liaisons to DHS headquarters alone at the time of our review), generally meets the intent of our recommendation, and led DOD to having better situational awareness and controlling the number of liaisons assigned to DHS headquarters.

    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

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In October 2013, the Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security signed an updated memorandum of agreement that addressed the exchange of liaisons within the national capital region. The agreement, which was updated in October 2013, includes a section that states that DOD and its components will ensure that workforce management policy and guidance for its liaison cadre at DHS and its components are structured in a manner that ensures that: (1) regular assessments are conducted in accordance with individual interagency agreements, with DHS participation and input, to establish the continuing need for each DoD liaison positioned at DHS and its components; (2) DOD provides liaisons who are familiar and proficient with the roles, responsibilities, relationships, and procedures for providing liaisons at DHS and its components during steady-state operations and during crises; and (3) performance and contribution feedback is provided by the DHS or DHS component sponsor to the DoD liaison's parent organization upon request by the DoD liaison's immediate supervisor. In addition, the Appendix B of the memorandum of agreement identified a list of training courses that to assist liaisons in identifying and correcting personal knowledge deficiencies prior to and during the performance of liaison duties. We believe that this agreement addresses a significant number of liaisons (i.e. more than 100 DOD liaisons to DHS headquarters alone at the time of our review), generally meets the intent of our recommendation, and led to DOD adopting key practices for managing its liaisons to DHS.

    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

 

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