Federal Agency

Federal Agency

The Department of Homeland Security is the US federal government department that largely deals with matters relating to security. The spheres of focus border security, antiterrorism protection, customs, immigration, disaster preparedness and management as well as cyberspace security. The establishment of the department followed the September 11, 2001, the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. The body receives a large federal allocation, and it employs more than 240,000 workers (Coburn, 3). The head of the department is the Secretary of Homeland Security, and he/she has a deputy who assists in managing the operations. This paper seeks to examine the Department of Homeland Security with a focus on the primary functions, the history, the requirements for candidates, and the reason why the officers do not frequently appear in public compared to the police.

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The Primary Functions

The major function of the Department of Homeland Security is the protection of Americans from the terrorist threat. The reason for its formation is the September 11, 2001, the attack that took many lives and was similar to the bombing of the Oklahoma City in 1995 (Coburn 2). Among the strategies used in the counterterrorism operations there is the securing of borders, enforcing the immigration rules as well as securing the cyberspace. The aims of the above operations are preempting the entry of illegal immigrants and preventing the hacking of the government online security systems that may provide a loophole for the terror groups to strike. The task of preventing terrorism is not easy because the terrorists target the civilians, and thus, they do not have a uniform but they use unconventional means to execute their plans. The formation of the department was therefore primarily intended to tackle terrorism through the surveillance of borders to keep illegal immigrants, screening the points of entry such as airports, and monitoring the cyberspace for hacking threats (Coburn 2).

The History of the Department of Homeland Security

The idea of forming the Department of Homeland Security appeared in early 2001 when the United States Commission on National Security recommended the creation of the same to promote the security status (Rittgers 2). However, according to Rittgers (2), the actualization of the concept took place after the bombing. Immediately after the September 11, 2001, the attack on the Pentagon, the administration saw the need of expediting the formation of the team, and thus, using the Executive Order, the then President George Walker Bush formed the team. The Congress approved it and mandated it to mobilize twenty-two federal government organizations that pre-existed with the aim was to streamline the operations. The paramount objective was to enhance the collaboration of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Coast Guard, and the Border Patrol to work together on pre-empting the threats to National Security (Rittgers 2). The then President Bush appointed former governor Tom Ridge as the first head of the department, and later formed the Homeland Security Council. Ridge assumed office in October 2001 when his official duties began. The Obama administration, however, saw the creation of the Homeland Security Council as duplication, and thus, it was merged with the National Security Council (Rittgers 2). The move to create the department appears as the necessary security reorganization since the Cold War era. Tom Ridge did not, however, stay in the office for long as he chose to be reassign on November 2004, and the then President Bush had to appoint Michael Chertoff to succeed him in 2005 (Rittgers 2). The organization, therefore, appears to have faced some challenges.

The scope of the institution was also controversial, and thus, the Congress held debates several times. According to Rittgers (3), the size of the organization was also a bone of contention but the Homeland Security Act 2002 was implemented in the Congress in 2002 on a 299-121 vote while in the Senate the results were 90-9. The further development, therefore, proved that the establishment of the department was not a smooth course.

The Structure of the Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security came to oversee the operations of twenty-two pre-existing government agencies under the Departments of Justice, Agriculture, Treasury, Defense, and Transport among others (Rittgers 4). The examples of the organizations are the United Sates Custom under the Treasury, the Immigration and National Services under Justice, and the Coast Guard under the Transport among others. However, the incorporation of the numerous agencies had its problems such as the duplication of roles and inefficiencies in operations among others (Rittgers 4). The organization added bureaucracy into the already existing problems and hence making the operations difficult. According to Rittgers (4), a fundamental problem consisted in too many subdivisions of the organization. Regarding the above information, the formation of the Department of Homeland Security needed some considerations.

Requirements for the Candidates

The department has several offices including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the United States Citizens, and Immigration Services among others. The primary requirement for applicants for the position is the United States citizenship. However, the requirements may vary in the various subdivisions (Kraft). For example, in the Transport and Security Administration, in addition to the citizenship, the requirements include a minimum age of 18 years, a high school diploma, medical evaluation test, drug screening test as well as the background investigations. For other sub-units such as the cyberspace security, a university degree is complementary (Kraft). Regarding the above, the principle requirement is the US citizenship, but others may differ depending on a particular position.

Why the Officers from the Department of Homeland Security Rarely Appear in Public

The officers from the department deal with counterterrorism, and since terrorists apply unconventional means such as hiding amongst the civilians, the officers must employ the use of intelligence that may require disguising as civilians so that it would be difficult to detect them (Coburn 18). Since the Department of Homeland Security enforces immigration rules, the officers' work may be mostly along the borders and in the airports, and hence, it is not easy to find them in public as it happens with the police (Coburn 38-58). Regarding the cyberspace security, the officers mainly do their operations on the Internet, and thus, they don't often appear in the public (Coburn 99). Considering the above facts, the nature and the scope of the work the officers do may make them not easily seen in the public. 


The Department of Homeland Security is the US federal government department whose mandate concentrates on the security affairs. The organization mostly deals with the threat of terrorism through enhancing border and cyber security as well as enforcing the immigration rules. Regarding the history, the idea of forming the organization began before the September 11, 2001, the attack on the World Trade Center, but the actualization happened after the incident. The group faced some challenges in its formation. Concerning the structure, the body drew agencies from the various departments such as transport and agriculture among others. Regarding the candidate requirements, the principle point is the United States citizenship, but other demands may be applied depending on the profession. The reason why the officers appear in the public rarely lies in the scope and the nature of the work they do: unlike the police officers, they have their specific areas of operation. The Department of Homeland Security deals with a broad range of tasks, and thus, it is a vast organization.

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