The Department of Homeland Security Unity of Effort Initiative

In late 2014, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) hosted two not-for-attribution roundtable discussions with current and former senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS), industry, and think tank officials to explore Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s “unity of effort initiative,” offer insights and experiences, and develop practical recommendations to help the department achieve the initiative’s stated goals: to deepen understanding of the DHS mission space and empower the department’s components to effectively executive their operations. After identifying and discussing three overarching challenges—cultural resistance, availability of training resources, and career development opportunities—the roundtable participants highlighting seven principal areas for action: (1) a focus on individuals who can drive change; (2) a robust exchange or liaison “intra-DHS” program; (3) the potential for private-sector rotations; (4) amending standards for the Security Administration job series; (5) more focused formal engagement with career civil servants; (6) a periodic training seminar; and (7) the power of informal forums. This paper outlines key steps to implement recommendations within each of these areas.