Wednesday, June 3, 2009

QHSR Information Collection Request

Yesterday, DHS posted another information collection request (ICR) in the Federal Register. ICR’s are a required part of the justification process for a federal agency to collect information from the private sector. I frequently post quick notes about such ICR’s that might affect the chemical security community, just to share the information. This ICR requires a bit more explanation. The 9/11 Commission Implementation Act required the Department to emulate the Department of Defense and conduct a Quadrennial Review (Quadrennial Homeland Security Review) to ensure that the Department is adequately keeping their programs directed at the most important threats to Homeland Security. This is intended to be a wide ranging review of current threats, programs, agencies, regulations. DHS is supposed to include the views of internal agencies, other Departments, state and local governments and private sector stakeholders in this review. This would be a daunting task for any agency, but especially so for a new department of the size of DHS that is still trying to meld a wide variety of agencies into an integrated tool to defend the homeland against terrorist attacks and natural disasters. Rather than complain about how hard it will be to get all of these stake holders to sit down (even in working groups) and look at the wide range of problems the Department is required to deal with, DHS took a page from the NPPD play book and is developing an on-line tool to provide an organized discussion medium to take and sort input into a meaningful information exchange. Here is how the Federal Register notice describes the tool (74 FR 26410):
“A national dialogue platform will be created and hosted to engage homeland security stakeholders around the compelling questions, ideas, or concepts that emerge through the QHSR process. The dialogue platform is based on the principle of radical scalability: The more feedback that is received, the more clearly sorted participants' preferences and priorities become. In a national dialogue, users can submit their best ideas, refine them in open discussion, and use simple rating and tagging features to identify the most popular ideas and important overarching themes. The platform can host multiple simultaneous dialogues, and dynamically pose new questions, so that DHS can repeatedly ‘pulse’ participants over a three-month timeframe.”
Talk about the government implementing a Web 2.0 application; this sounds like one of the potentially most innovative uses of on-line technology since Al Gore developed the internet. As more information becomes available, I’ll certainly pass it along. I am also actively soliciting readers to do the same. This is BIG.

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