The Center on Law and Security at NYU School of Law today released its latest report, Reforming the Culture of National Security: Vision, Clarity, and Accountability, which provides recommendations for cultural - not structural - reform of the national security establishment to provide effective assessment of and response to evolving, cross-cutting, and interrelated threats.
The report is the result of a working group of the Center, sponsored by the Markle Foundation. Members of the working group include three current Obama administration officials - Dennis Ross, special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Carol Browner, assistant to the president for energy and climate change; and Margaret Hamburg, President Obamas nominee for FDA commissioner - as well as notable former Clinton and Bush administration officials, including counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke and Michael Sheehan, who served on the National Security Council staff and is a distinguished fellow at the Center on Law and Security. Participants identified the range of present and future challenges requiring an integrated response by the range of national security agencies and departments, and offered strategies and approaches to effectively address these threats.
The report makes the following conclusions:
- 1. Bureaucratic culture and lack of leadership, rather than structural issues, cause integral weakness in our national security system.
- 2. Stovepiping and lack of information sharing present the key vulnerability to threat assessment and response.
- 3. Current mechanisms for accountability are insufficient.
- 4. Complex and evolving threats, including but not limited to terrorism, are among the central national security issues confronting the Obama administration. Climate change, energy requirements, economic challenges, and the possibility of pandemics are all part of the threat matrix.
The report also makes the following recommendations:
- 1. Responsibility for threat assessment and response should be clearly assigned to minimize interagency competition.
- 2. Reform should focus on collaboration and information sharing among agencies.
- 3. Accountability mechanisms must be created and instituted throughout the national security system.
- 4. Integrated approaches for threat management and response that include officials from all pertinent agencies must be established. Clear delineation of the lines of authority and responsibility are essential to their success.
According to the report, effective policy begins with clarity and ends with accountability, rather than repeated, cumbersome structural reform. Its recommendations can be implemented quickly and can provide the basis for further interagency improvements. The full report may be found at http://www.lawandsecurity.org. For more information, please call the Center on Law and Security at 212.992.8640.