DHS Secretary Napolitano announces 60-day review of homeland security advisory system

July 14, 2009 -- Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced the formation of a task force to conduct a 60-day review of the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS). The mission of the task force is to assess the effectiveness of the system in informing the public about terrorist threats and communicating protective measures within government and throughout the private sector.

Secretary Napolitano appointed Fran Townsend, former Assistant to President George W. Bush for Homeland Security, and Judge William Webster, former director of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), to co-chair the task force and lead the review.

“I have assembled a task force, made up of Democrats and Republicans, elected officials at the state and local level, security experts, law enforcement officials and other professionals to assess our current threat level system and provide options for any improvements that are needed,” said Secretary Napolitano, “My goal is simple: to have the most effective system in place to inform the American people about threats to our country.”

The review will include broad consideration of HSAS and the system’s impact on state, local, tribal, territorial and international law enforcement partners, the private sector and the American people. The task force will consult with the Department of Justice—under which HSAS was originally created—and provide opportunities for public input. In addition, DHS will take public comment directly via email at hsasreview@dhs.gov.

Following the 60-day review period, the task force will present its findings to Secretary Napolitano, who will, in turn, discuss the findings with other Cabinet officials before making a recommendation about the future of the system to the White House.

This review is one of a number of steps Secretary Napolitano has taken to bolster the Department’s counterterrorism efforts. She recently completed a weeklong trip to Europe and the Middle East where she signed agreements with Spain and Portugal to allow for the exchange of biometric and biographic data to bolster counterterrorism and law enforcement efforts while emphasizing privacy protections. She also visited Ireland, England, Kuwait and Pakistan, where she met with top security officials to increase coordination against transnational terrorism.

Over the past five months, Secretary Napolitano has embarked on new security agreements with international partners, bolstered intelligence information sharing with domestic law enforcement partners, announced $1.7 billion in Homeland Security grants to strengthen risk-based preparedness activities across the nation for all disasters and implemented programs and directed funding for infrastructure protection, transportation and air travel security and cybersecurity efforts, among other efforts to protect the nation from threats of terrorism.