Monday, August 31, 2009

QHSR Dialogue 2

Today the second phase of the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) Dialogue officially started. This phase of the web-based dialogue will be opened through September 6th. The study groups have taken the work they had previously done, combined it with the information provided in the first phase of QHSR Dialogue and come up with a series of goals that support the four action areas listed in the first Dialogue. Those action areas are: Counterterrorism and domestic security Securing our borders Tough, smart enforcement of immigration laws Preparing for, responding to, and recovering from disasters The other two study areas listed in the original Dialogue (Homeland Security Nation Risk Assessment, and Homeland Security Planning and Capabilities) were not continued into the current goal-setting portion of the current dialogue. Their ‘squares’ on the dialogue page were ‘grayed out’ for that reason. There are, however, provisions for continuing the discussion of ideas for those areas started in the previous dialogue. Counterterrorism and Domestic Security Like I did in the previous Dialogue, I will be spending most of my time looking at Counterterrorism and Domestic Security (CTDS) section. That happens to be where my interests lie, but the general outline of each of the areas will be the same. Everyone should certainly take at least a little time to look at all four areas. The QHSR Study Groups have identified three general goals for the CTDS section. They are:
“Terrorists and other malicious actors are unable to effectively operate within or against the homeland.” “Terrorists and other malicious actors are unable to acquire or move dangerous chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive materials or capabilities.” “Critical infrastructure assets, systems, networks, and functions are safeguarded and resilient.”
Rating the Objectives Each goal has a number of supporting objectives. The purpose of the second Dialogue is to rank each of the objectives supporting the goals. The set up for the rating is sort of unique; each goal is given an allowable number of points (equal to 10 points for each objective) that may be distributed between those objectives. Each objective has a scale with ratings from -30 to +30 in 10 unit increments. After rating each objective the sum of the ratings awarded must equal the available points. So, for example, on Goal #1 I assigned the following ratings for the five objectives:
Understand the Threat – +20 Stop the Spread of Violent Extremism – -10 Counter their Capabilities – +10 Interdict Threats – +20 Build Community Support – +10
There is a separate information page for each action area that provides a little bit of information on the Goals and their Objectives. The information is not extensive, but it does at least provide for a general definition of the objectives. It should help keep everyone on the same sheet of music anyway. Discussion of Ideas Once again the major information exchange process for the Dialogue takes place on the “Discuss” page. To date there are only two ‘ideas’ identified in the CTDS section. Every person has the ability to post an idea that is then open to discussion. The general set up is the same as in Dialogue 1. There is a serious improvement however; you can now formulate your idea or response to an idea off-line in MS Word® and cut/paste your entry into the dialogue. Security Issues Remain The security issues that were identified in the previous dialogue remain. The registration form that must be completed before one is allowed to make ratings or contribute to the discussion is still not protected in transmission. If anyone wants to make their comments to the discussion anonymously (there are people that cannot openly discuss policy issues for legal reasons) needs to realize that if they provide personally identifiable information in the registration process it is attributed to their comments. This is not readily apparent, nor is it fully disclosed.

1 comment:

Laurie Thomas said...

As I stated in the dialogue itself, in my opinion, the second phase of the QHSR is as opaque and counter-intuitive as the first phase. Maybe it's just me, but I find it distressing that the agency that is in charge of the internal security of my country produces a paragraph of directions that needs to be read three times before comprehension can occur. Again, my opinion, but this entire process should have been extensively beta-tested on a group of people across the U.S. before it was brought online. Now the comment function seems to be open to any kind of interchange between dialogue participants, including off-topic statements like "Get off my planet."

The cut-and-paste problem has not been solved for all Mozilla users.

The lack of "user-friendly" aspects of the process are worrisome in light of the fact that this is intended to be a conversation among people who traditionally wear many hats.

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