Taking Additional Actions to Protect the Homeland

Video Message: Cathleen A. Berrick

Cathleen A. Berrick

Director, Homeland Security and Justice


(202) 512-3404

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began operations in March 2003 with the mission to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce vulnerabilities, minimize damages from attacks, and aid in recovery efforts. The department has initiated and continued the implementation of various policies and programs to address these missions, including programs to secure the border and critical infrastructure sectors and defend against, prepare for, and respond to threats and disasters. DHS has had to undertake these critical missions while also working to transform itself into a fully functioning cabinet department—a difficult undertaking for any organization and one that can take years to complete even under less daunting circumstances. As the unifying core of the vast national network of organizations and institutions involved in securing the nation, the department must ensure that it is prepared and vigilant—particularly during the presidential transition period, when the nation can be viewed as being especially vulnerable. Moreover, the new administration and Congress should work to further strengthen departmental operations and address critical issues that, as GAO has reported, affect the nation's security and preparedness. These efforts include

Homeland Security Advisory System

Homeland Security Advisory System

Source: Department of Homeland Security

  • coordinating with federal, state and local governments, and private sector partners to prevent, prepare for, and respond to acts of terrorism and other disasters.

    Highlights of GAO-08-868T (PDF)

  • strengthening the protection and resiliency of the nation's cyber and other critical infrastructure, including the banking and finance, transportation, and energy sectors, against acts of terrorism and natural disasters.

    Highlights of GAO-07-1075T (PDF)

  • more aggressively pursuing the development and deployment of nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological detection capabilities and other countermeasures to address emerging threats.

    Highlights of GAO-08-598 (PDF)

  • strengthening key multibillion-dollar homeland security acquisitions to ensure that needed security capabilities are delivered at acceptable levels of cost and risk.

    Highlights of GAO-08-1164T (PDF)

  • improving the sharing of intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security information between federal, state, local, private sector, and international partners to assist in the successful prevention, response, and recovery from terrorist and natural disasters.

    Highlights of GAO-08-492 (PDF)

^ Back to topKey Reports

Critical Infrastructure: Sector Plans Complete and Sector Councils Evolving
GAO-07-1075T, July 12, 2007
Emergency Management: Observations on DHS's Preparedness for Catastrophic Disasters
GAO-08-868T, June 11, 2008
Nuclear Security: NRC and DHS Need to Take Additional Steps to Better Track and Detect Radioactive Materials
GAO-08-598, June 19, 2008
Information Sharing Environment: Definition of the Results to Be Achieved in Improving Terrorism-Related Information Sharing Is Needed to Guide Implementation and Assess Progress
GAO-08-492, June 25, 2008
Department of Homeland Security: Progress and Continuing Concerns with Acquisition Management
GAO-08-1164T, September 17, 2008