Public Administration Case Study

Reinventing Government: Homeland Security (Case Study #1)

The attacks of September 11, 2001 exposed weaknesses in the government’s defense of the nation. To address this, the president proposed, and Congress approved, in 2003, the Homeland Security Act, and a new cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

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The strategy was described as a “national effort,” and not merely a federal plan. A vast reengineering of federal agencies was undertaken to bring them within the jurisdiction of the DHS, for better coordination and control. Many of these agencies are reorganized under the DHS with each of their individual core missions superceded by the primary mission of homeland security. The transition period saw a number of personnel practices, organizational cultures, and operations undergoing significant change.

The DHS created a National Response Plan (NRP), and a National Incident Management System (NIMS). These units provide the opportunity for the nation to identify, reduce, and eliminate duplication within the federal, state, and local governments. The secretary must plan for and address the vulnerabilities of each sector in order to prevent danger to human life, and to avoid potential economic or environmental catastrophes. Five of these sectors (agriculture, food, water, energy, chemical industry, and hazardous materials) have direct impacts on the nation’s environment. They are vulnerable targets for terrorists. As a global military and economic super-power, the government of the United States could not let its economy be crippled by attacks on its critical infrastructure sectors. It is hoped that this broad and deep reengineering effort of agencies will provide the security that was lacking on September 11, 2001.

Source: Coates, B.E., PA600, Scope of Public Administration, San Diego State University—IVC, Fall 2003. Adapted from “Environmental Issues In Homeland Security,” by Crocker, James W., Army War College, March 31, 2003.

Questions:

1. Discuss the major thrust behind reinvention of government via the Homeland Security Act.

2. How do you think the various organizational cultures of the once-separated agencies are faring under their newly reconstructed mission?

Hurricane Katrina: Lessons in Contemporary Intergovernmental Relations (Case Study #2)

Watch the PBS Frontline program, The Storm. The full length video is available at: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/storm/. After viewing the program, consider the extent to which Katrina was a political disaster in intergovernmental relations.

Questions:

1. What government leaders, agencies, and officials were responsible for the political fallout of Katrina?

2. What went wrong?

3. Who is to blame?

4. How do the complexities of the failed governmental response to Katrina highlight the complexities of contemporary intergovernmental relations?

*** I have attached a PDF of the textbook (Chapters 3 & 4) that may be referenced in answering these questions if needed.

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