Last week, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas convened a meeting of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (“the Council”) at the White House to discuss how the Department can enhance supply chain security, improve efforts of intelligence and information sharing capabilities, promote greater transparency, improve customer service, and expand on its Homeland Security Technology and Innovation Network.
“No federal Department touches the lives of more people on a daily basis than the Department of Homeland Security, and those we serve deserve to see our government working to become more innovative, more efficient, and more responsive. The work of the Homeland Security Advisory Council is central to informing those efforts,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “Members of the HSAC include former advisors to U.S. presidents, executive leaders of national law enforcement organizations, CEOs of some of the world’s largest companies, Presidents and CEOs of non-government organizations dedicated to human rights, government accountability, and community empowerment. From combatting forced labor around the world to fortifying our critical infrastructure, we cannot succeed in our mission without robust collaboration with community and private sector partners. I am confident the recommendations made by members of the Council will help our 260,000-person workforce better deliver on our critical mission and continue to build trust in our Department for years to come.”
During the meeting, Former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, who led DHS from 2005 to 2009, spoke about how the Department’s development over 20 years reflected the evolution in the threat landscape. Secretary Chertoff emphasized that the Department is fit for purpose for the threats of today and tomorrow.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also addressed the Council, discussing the convergence of homeland security with national security. He recognized the Department’s 20th Anniversary and echoed the message that President Biden delivered to the workforce on March 1, 2023 highlighting the dedication and resolve of the DHS workforce over the past 20 years.
Secretary Mayorkas presented Judge William “Bill” Webster, the HSAC Chair Emeritus, with a Distinguished Service Medal for his 20 years of service to the Department. Judge Webster, who recently turned 99 years old, was initially appointed by Secretary Tom Ridge in April 2003. Judge Webster has extensive public service experience, he served as Director of the CIA from 1987-1991, Director of the FBI from 1978-1987, a Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit from 1973 to 1978, and a United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Missouri from 1970 to 1973. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Intelligence Medial, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Security Medal.
Secretary Mayorkas also recognized AFL-CIO Liz Schuler for her work so far and officially swore her in as the newest member of the Council.
During yesterday’s meeting, four HSAC subcommittees formed at the direction of Secretary Mayorkas, presented their final reports on several taskings:
- The Supply Chain Security Subcommittee’s final report outlines steps the Department can take to enhance the security, resiliency, and efficiency or the nation’s supply chains.
- The Information and Intelligence Sharing Subcommittee’s final report outlines steps that the Department can take to improve information sharing with federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, and private sector partners.
- The Transparency and Open DHS Review Subcommittee’s final report outlines how the Department can improve openness and transparency across the Department.
- The Homeland Security Technology and Innovation Network Subcommittee’s report outlines how the Department can improve the Department’s innovation, research and development, and technology network with the private sector.
Following the presentations, the four reports were unanimously accepted by the Council. They will be made available to the public in the coming days.
Last March 2022, Secretary Mayorkas reconstituted and re-envisioned the Council to work more closely with the Department to better meet the challenges of the evolving threat landscape and seize the opportunities to better serve the American people. The Council includes former Cabinet Secretaries from both Democratic and Republican administrations; chief executive officers from the technology, energy, transportation, financial, food and consumer products, and venture capital industries; executive leaders of national law enforcement organizations; Presidents and CEOs of non-profit organizations dedicated to human rights, government accountability, and community security and empowerment; leaders of nonpartisan policy institutes; and other leading professionals. The Secretary and the HSAC members work with subject matter experts in and outside the Department to develop strategies in the domestic and international domains. The members will provide independent advice and recommendations to the Secretary.