A couple of years ago someone at DHS got an absolutely brilliant idea, publish a document on the web that provided a summary of, and point of contact information for, each of the public programs operated by each of the various components of DHS. Today, DHS published the latest update of this document on the Private Sector Resources Catalog (PSRC) web site.
One can download the entire PSRC, an unwieldy 75 page document, or you can access individual sections of the document. During the previous update last summer DHS changed the format of the information somewhat, aligning the sections with the five missions of the Department. Adding some general department information and points of contacts the PSRC offers the following links:
Most readers of this blog are going to find the ‘Preventing Terrorism’ and ‘Securing Cyberspace’ sections most valuable. The ‘Key Contacts’ section provides either an email address or a phone number for (in some limited number of cases) for the various programs in DHS; listed by organization.
Suggestions for Improvements
This really is a great idea, but I just can’t leave well enough alone; there are some changes that I would like to see.
First off, too many of the programs listed in the PSRC do not have their own web page for people to go for more information. These programs typically have an email address to get more information. Each time I have used that contact method I have gotten an informative reply within a day or two; a very reasonable response given that the action agency is typically a small shop with just a couple of people working on the project.
If each program had a small web site with links to the documents that are readily sent to the public, the response would be more efficient; with a more timely exchange of information and less work by the office involved.
I know this isn’t possible for all of the programs. There are some programs where there are vetting requirements before DHS can share the information. For those, we will just have to live with the email point-of-contact.
The second change deals with the Index page provided for the PSRC. The current version is a low-tech index with just a page number for each of the listed programs. It is only useful if you have downloaded the entire PSRC since it doesn’t tell you in which section the page number will be found (though for many you’ll probably be able to guess).
Instead of being a .PDF document this page should be an HTML document with active links to each of referenced programs.
And really, that’s all I’ve got for improving this document. The folks at the Private Sector Office at DHS have done a pretty good job with this information sharing program. Keep it up.