2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review:
Evolution of Strategic Review
Shawn Reese, Analyst in Emergency Management and Homeland Security Policy
August 6, 2014 (IN10127)
In June 2014, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported the second iteration of
the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) to Congress. The QHSR is a "comprehensive
examination of the homeland security strategy of the Nation, including recommendations regarding
the long-term strategy and priorities of the Nation for homeland security."
The quadrennial homeland security review is a process in which DHS examines the nation's homeland
security strategy; the report provides an explanation of this process. Neither the review process nor
the report to Congress is a strategy, instead the 2014 QHSR (both the process and report) are part of
the constant reevaluation of the nation's homeland security and part of the process by which the
combined National and Homeland Security Staff develops the next iteration of the national security
strategy. In 2010, the Obama Administration combined the national and homeland security strategies
with its 2010 issuance of the National Security Strategy.
Originally Congress, in Section 904 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (HSA), tasked the National
Homeland Security Council and staff to assess homeland security objectives, commitments, and risks.
Additionally, the council was to oversee and review homeland security policies.
Review and Report Requirements
With the enactment of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (9/11
Act), Congress required DHS to conduct a quadrennial homeland security review.
Congress required both the QHSR process and report to include
a description of the interagency cooperation, preparedness of federal response assets,
infrastructure, budget plan, and other homeland security elements; and
an assessment of DHS's organizational structure with the national homeland security
Congress, specifically, required the DHS Secretary to consult with other federal entities, and required
the review process to include
a delineated and updated national homeland security strategy; and
a review and assessment of the effectiveness of DHS mechanisms for meeting the
QHSR's requirements, and turning those requirements into an acquisition strategy and
expenditure plan within the department.
Additionally, Congress required the DHS report on the review to
provide a result of the review process,
describe national homeland security threats,
discuss the status of cooperation among all levels of governments in preventing terrorist
attacks and responding to emergencies, and
explain any underlying assumptions used in conducting the review.
Meeting QHSR Process and Report Requirements
Congress specifically tasked DHS with the QHSR process and report requirements in Section 707 of
the HSA (as amended). It could be said that DHS met a significant number of the review process and
report requirements with the FY2014 QHSR. DHS, however, only partially met the requirement to
prioritize missions because the department only identified cross-cutting priorities instead of prioritizing
missions. DHS did not provide a review and assessment of DHS mechanisms and programs for
meeting the QHSR's requirements, or for turning those requirements into an acquisition strategy and
expenditure plan. Finally, as stated earlier, DHS has not provided an updated national homeland
security strategy, but instead provided the review, and its explanation, of the nation's homeland
security strategy as embodied in the 2010 National Security Strategy.
DHS's Response to 2010 QHSR Shortcomings
In 2010, DHS issued the first Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR), and it was criticized for
not communicating the nation's homeland security priorities, not comparing favorably to the
Department of Defense's Quadrennial Defense Review, and not identifying a budget plan or resources
to secure the nation.One of the primary criticisms of the 2010 QHSR was the absence of homeland
security strategic priorities.
In the 2014 QHSR, DHS states it will adopt strategic shifts and renewed emphases on the following
securing against the evolving terrorism threat;
safeguarding and securing cyberspace;
countering biological threats and hazards;
securing and managing flows of people and goods; and
strengthening the execution of DHS's mission through public-private partnerships.
The 2014 QHSR updated the missions and goals originally identified in the 2010 QHSR. DHS states
that this reflects changes in the strategic environment where it; other federal, state, local, and tribal
government entities; private sector partners; and other members of the homeland security enterprise
have "matured, evolved, and enhanced" their homeland security capabilities. The 2014 QHSR has a
section that provides an in-depth framework of the nation's basic homeland security missions. DHS's
examination and work on missions and priorities is an attempt to address some of the 2010 QHSR's
Another attempt to address criticism of the 2010 QHSR is the identification of federal, state, local, and
tribal entities and private sector partners with homeland security responsibilities. Some of these
partners include the Departments of Justice, State, Defense, Health and Human Services, Treasury,
Agriculture, Commerce, Education, and Energy, and businesses and industry. Included in the 2014
QHSR is a table that identifies federal entities with National Response Framework responsibilities.
Finally, DHS explains the process, and the corresponding stakeholder engagement activities, through
which it developed and wrote the 2014 QHSR. Figure 1 displays the 2014 QHSR Process.
Figure 1. 2014 QHSR Process
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security
Review, p. 95.
Potential 2014 QHSR Issues for Congressional Concern
The following list provides potential issues Congress may examine in relation to the 2014 QHSR:
The continued absence of prioritized national homeland security missions.
The continued absence of an acquisition, budget, or fiscal plan associated with national
homeland security missions.
Congress may wish to address the core issue of requiring DHS to review the nation's homeland
security considering the nation's homeland security encompasses an endeavor that is more than the
activities of DHS. In FY2014, the Office of Management and Budget reported that DHS was
appropriated 49% of total "homeland security" funding, with 51% being appropriated to a number of
other federal entities.