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Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Summary

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a large, complex federal organization whose mission is of the utmost importance: securing the nation. The 200,000 men and women who make up the DHS workforce have responsibilities that include preventing terrorist attacks from threats both foreign and domestic; securing the nation’s borders on land, air, and sea; safeguarding transportation systems; providing immigration and citizenship law enforcement; responding to natural disasters; cybersecurity; overseeing nuclear detection; and more. Those vast responsibilities rely on a workforce that is ready and resilient to meet DHS’s critical mission. The DHS Office of Health Affairs (OHA) asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to review its current workforce resilience efforts, identify gaps, and provide recommendations for a 5-year strategic plan for its workforce resilience program. To address that request, the IOM formed the Committee on Department of Homeland Security Workforce Resilience (see Box S-1 for the complete statement of task from OHA).

At the committee’s first meeting, OHA expressed concern that it was not having the impact that it had hoped to achieve with its resilience program. OHA relayed to the committee its desire for guidance and strategic direction from IOM, recognizing the need for advice on policy, programs, and measurement from outside the department. Acknowledging the tremendous burdens placed on DHS employees every day, OHA staff and leadership expressed a genuine desire to support the workforce in a comprehensive way. The committee commends DHS for recognizing the importance of its workforce in achieving the DHS mission and requesting support for this vital task.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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BOX S-1
Committee on Department of Homeland Security Workforce Resilience Statement of Task

An ad hoc committee will conduct a study and prepare a report on how to improve the resilience (physical and mental well-being) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) workforce, and identify the elements of a 5-year strategic plan for the DHSTogether program. The report will build on existing analysis of current capabilities, best-known practices, and gaps in current resilience programs. Specifically, the committee will

•   Explore existing tools for improved workforce resilience, including a review of employer resilience programs which includes, but not exclusively, military and law enforcement.

o   Assess current policies, programs, activities, and resources that address employee resilience across DHS.

•   Identify resilience gaps in the DHS workforce and recommend activities to close those gaps.

•   Develop the elements of a 5-year strategic plan with year-by-year recommended activities to close those gaps.

o   Priority activities will be identified based on potential impact, to enable DHS to make choices based on the value of the activity.

•   Identify measures and metrics to track continuous improvements and to mark successful implementation of DHSTogether and the improving resilience of the DHS workforce.

Overview of the Report

In the opening chapter, the committee provides background information on the history and makeup of DHS and the workforce challenges that it faces, an overview of the study process and of how the committee addressed its task, and background information on DHS’s current initiatives and programs related to workforce resilience, including efforts related to employee engagement, employee assistance, and peer support. Chapter 2 discusses the definitions of readiness and resilience, provides a vision for the DHS workforce readiness and resilience effort, outlines the preconditions for and goals of a successful program, and offers recommendations on the roles, responsibilities, and authorities needed for workforce readiness and improvement. Chapter 3 discusses and offers recommendations regarding leadership development and organizational communication and discusses how culture is intertwined with both. Chapter 4 offers a framework and recommendations for assessing, evaluating, and reporting on the

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
×

DHS readiness and resilience program. Chapter 5 presents recommended elements of the 5-year workforce readiness and resilience strategic plan.

Brief History of the Department of Homeland Security

Created in 2002 in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, DHS is the newest cabinet-level department, fashioned to serve as a unified organization to defend the United States against terrorist attacks. The DHS merger incorporated parts of 8 cabinet departments and 22 agencies in law enforcement, border management, and disaster preparedness and relief; it was in the largest government reorganization since the creation of the Department of Defense (DoD). DHS now consists of 7 core operating components1 and 18 supporting offices and directorates (see Appendix A for the DHS organizational chart). Its establishment was unusual in its size and scope, and it is now the third-largest federal department, behind DoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs. DHS was ordered by Congress to start up quickly after its enactment, leaving little time to strategically plan how to bring together 22 entities, each with its own culture; integration continues to be a challenge.

Workforce Resilience

To guide its work, the committee adopted the Joint Chiefs of Staff definition of resilience: “the ability to withstand, recover, and grow in the face of stressors and changing demands.” In its report, the committee also discusses the need for DHS workforce readiness, the capability of a unit or system to perform the missions or functions for which it was intended or designed. Throughout the report, the committee refers to the need for a ready and resilient workforce. Meeting that objective would result in a workforce that is healthy (physically, mentally, and emotionally), has high morale, is adaptable, finds purpose and meaning in its work, and is productive and engaged (see Box S-2). When the committee refers to workforce readiness and resilience (WRR), it refers to a holistic

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1Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), US Coast Guard (USCG), and US Secret Service (USSS).

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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BOX S-2
What Is a Ready and Resilient Workforce?

A ready workforce is

•   Trained with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to perform the mission.

•   Properly equipped with tools and protective assets to support the mission.

•   Healthy and fit to endure the environmental conditions required in the mission.

•   Guided by strong and effective leaders.

A resilient workforce

•   Is ready to perform its roles and missions.

•   Withstands and copes with stress.

•   Adapts and adjusts to challenging conditions.

•   Rebounds and grows from experience.

approach that includes attention to physical, mental, and emotional health; organizational culture; and the work and home environments (including families). The committee does not view this effort as an “initiative” or “program,” which would connote a short-term endeavor or something that is removed after it reaches its intended goal. The committee envisions a larger and overarching effort that becomes embedded in the culture of DHS.

Importance of a Ready and Resilient Department of Homeland Security Workforce

An organization’s most important asset is its workforce. To achieve its mission, DHS needs an informed, well-trained, well-led, and properly supported workforce. The DHS mission, “to ensure a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards,” cannot be taken lightly, nor can the role of its workforce in meeting that mission. The nature of the DHS work environment is inherently stressful, and the responsibilities can weigh heavily on DHS employees at every level and in every facet of the organization. If the workforce is not ready to per-

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
×

form its mission and resilient in responding to and bouncing back from crises and the everyday stressors that it encounters, it can compromise the DHS mission.

Resilience affects individual employee performance and overall operational readiness over time. It is crucial for the strategic plan for readiness and resilience developed by DHS to ensure that its most critical resource, its workforce, is linked with the department’s vision, mission, and goals. The performance of the DHS workforce affects the lives of people all over the nation. DHS is accomplished in performing the various parts of its mission, and its workforce does an astonishing amount of work that contributes to the safety of the country so that the American way of life can thrive. The workforce not only deserves to have excellent readiness and resilience resources, it needs the full support of DHS to continue to meet its day-to-day and long-term missions. A ready and resilient workforce will benefit DHS as a whole, resulting in improved staff performance, productivity, retention, and output by reducing absenteeism, addressing presenteeism, and increasing morale and recruitment of top talent.

DHSTOGETHER EMPLOYEE AND ORGANIZATIONAL RESILIENCE PROGRAM

At the request of Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute, the DHSTogether Employee and Organizational Resilience program was created by OHA in late 2009. As described to the committee, DHSTogether is a headquarters-based program that focuses on building resilience and wellness capacity in the components, primarily by providing guidance and limited seed money to help components develop solutions that can be used throughout the department. Although housed in OHA, DHSTogether was until recently a collaborative effort between OHA and the Human Capital Office, which houses the department’s work-life and employee assistance programs.

Early actions of the DHSTogether program included creating an inventory of existing related policies and programs and training already under way in the component agencies, conducting a DHS-wide Safety Stand Down to focus on resilience and wellness, and creating the Employee and Organizational Resilience Program Taskforce. DHSTogether also provided funding for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) to emphasize resilience in its curriculum for federal law enforcement, although this has not yet been formally implemented. In the

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
×

second year of the program, the focus shifted toward suicide prevention with the creation of online courses on stress management and suicide prevention and a focus on increasing awareness of available resources. DHSTogether contracted with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences for several resilience initiatives in August 2012; however, there have been no deliverables to date. OHA is also developing a peer support coordinator training program in collaboration with FLETC that focuses on crisis intervention and “care and concern” support; Strong Bonds for DHS, an interpersonal-relationship training course being developed with the CBP chaplaincy program; and an adaptation of the US Navy Operational Stress Assessment for use with DHS employees.

The program has had limited budget, resources, and support since its inception. Specific funding of $1.5 million was included for DHSTogether in the fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget; this appropriation called for no fulltime employees, relying instead on five employees to support the effort part-time as collateral duty. The FY 2013 budget reduced the appropriation to $500,000 but added two full-time employees, who began work with the program in December 2012 and February 2013. The planned budget for FY 2014 is $1.1 million. Because of the limited funding, few or no resources are tied to the policies that are promulgated by the program (Chapter 1 contains a full description of the DHSTogether program).

Four years into its Employee and Organizational Resilience Program, DHS still does not have a clear vision, a mission statement, specific goals, or measurable objectives for the program. There is no agreement on a working definition of resilience to use in DHS, and this leaves it impossible to establish a starting point for workforce resilience at this time. Without data collection, evaluation of the program’s effectiveness is not possible. Because there is no definition or validated measure of resilience being used in DHS, the committee cannot be certain that the DHS workforce has a resilience deficit. DHS has used the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS)2 as a surrogate of resilience, but this presumption has not been tested or proved. What is clear from the FEVS data is that the DHS workforce has low morale, which may be related to resilience. But it may be that the workforce has demonstrated a high lev-

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2“The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FedView survey) is a tool that measures employees’ perceptions of whether, and to what extent, conditions characterizing successful organizations are present in their agencies. Survey results provide valuable insight into the challenges agency leaders face in ensuring the Federal Government has an effective civilian workforce and how well they are responding” and is implemented by the Office of Personnel and Management (http://www.fedview.opm.gov).

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
×

el of resilience by executing its duties admirably in the face of low morale and numerous organizational challenges, which could take an additional psychologic and physical toll on the workforce. The DHSTogether program has been a series of disconnected small initiatives as opposed to a comprehensive, coherent, evidence-based program that follows a mission-focused strategy that is aligned with the various DHS operational needs.

STUDY PROCESS

To address its charge, the committee gathered information through a variety of means. It held two information-gathering meetings that were open to the public (see Appendix B for meeting agendas). The committee met in executive sessions for deliberative discussions throughout the study. Committee members and staff visited several DHS components in New York, New York (FEMA, S&T, USCIS), in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas (CBP and ICE), and in Washington, DC (TSA) to gain a better understanding of the physical work environments, daily jobs, and stressors of the DHS workforce. The committee also created an online public-comment tool to give all DHS staff the opportunity to provide comments (see Appendix C for a summary of the comments received). Although the information obtained from the site visits and online public-comment tool are not representative of DHS as a whole and therefore cannot be generalized throughout DHS, they did provide the committee with context and insight into some of the stressors that the DHS workforce encounters regularly.

During two workshops hosted by the IOM in September and November 2011 (also sponsored by OHA), experts spoke about a number of issues related to workforce resilience in general and in DHS specifically. Discussions focused on factors that potentially influence workforce effectiveness and resilience—including fatigue, work-family connections, and leadership effectiveness—and on challenges to implementing a resilience program in DHS. A workshop summary was published in 2012.3 The workshops were the precursors of this report and the committee relied heavily on the background information and deliberations presented in the workshop summary.

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3IOM (Institute of Medicine). 2012. Building a resilient workforce: Opportunities for the Department of Homeland Security. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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RECOMMENDATIONS

The IOM Committee on Department of Homeland Security Workforce Resilience was asked to provide guidance on improving the resilience of the DHS workforce. This report contains recommendations and guidance for the content and implementation of a 5-year strategic plan to support workforce readiness and resilience with the goal developing a healthy, mission-ready, and thus resilient workforce. Early in its work, the committee recognized that to address its charge it must take a broad look at factors that potentially contribute to workforce health as opposed to resilience alone because DHS was unable to provide any specific data that demonstrated a clear problem with workforce resilience in the department. DHS has focused on results of the FEVS, which has revealed issues of morale, engagement, and leadership in DHS, all of which, the committee recognizes, may affect workforce resilience. Through conversations with DHS staff during information-gathering sessions and site visits, the committee confirmed the existence of those issues, a general lack of an integrated organizational culture, and issues of communication in DHS.

The committee concluded that a top-down, fully standardized set of activities aimed at enhancing workforce readiness and resilience throughout DHS would not work, because of the diversity of missions, organizational culture, and organization among component agencies. However, there does need to be centralized strategic direction and resource investment, identification of core best practices, overarching policies, and measures of effectiveness at the department level that will unify efforts. This will ensure consistency while fostering component-agency ownership and flexibility in implementation because “you run organizations with purpose and pride and you run them successfully when you put that purpose and pride in their hands, in the hands of the people who are in the organization” (former Deputy Secretary Lute). It is with those sentiments in mind that the committee viewed its charge. The committee believes that achieving a high level of resilience means fostering a sense of pride in the workforce that will lead to a core culture of readiness and resilience and to the development of an informed, well-trained, well-led, and properly supported workforce that has “the ability to withstand, recover and grow in the face of [the] stressors and changing demands” that it experiences in carrying out its diverse missions.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
×

Workforce Readiness and Resilience:
Vision and Strategy

To be successful, the DHS WRR effort needs clarity of vision, a mission-oriented focus, and clear and measurable goals and objectives to guide those implementing the effort and to promote better understanding and acceptance by its beneficiaries. Such an organizational approach is necessary to instill confidence among the sponsors and funders of WRR, who will be hesitant to invest without clear measures of effectiveness. The current resilience program in DHS lacks a clear vision and unified strategy.

Recommendation 1: Develop and promote a unified strategy and common vision of workforce readiness and resilience in the Department of Homeland Security.

The committee recommends that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) adopt, commit to, and promote a unified strategy to build and sustain workforce readiness and resilience (WRR) throughout the department. The unified strategy should include overarching policies and measures of effectiveness in support of core goals. To guide the strategy the department, including all component agencies, should adopt the following vision of WRR to advance the core mission of DHS:

Vision: A ready, resilient, and sustainable DHS workforce working to ensure a safe, secure, and resilient nation.

Achieving that vision will require commitment from leadership at all levels of DHS. Policies, programs, and resources need to be aligned to realize the vision by establishing and promoting the conditions under which employees in the components and throughout the entire department perform optimally to achieve organizational effectiveness. The vision should be embraced by each DHS operational component, headquarters office, and directorate while allowing flexibility and innovation to support their specific mission and unique workforce.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Policies and Resources

In addition to assessing gaps in DHSTogether activities and programs, the committee was asked to assess gaps in policies and resources, of which the committee identified several. Cross-cutting programs require the authority to establish departmentwide policies, the ability to hold participating units accountable for policy implementation and adherence, and management responsibilities relevant to program needs. OHA does not currently have those capabilities. It lacks specific authority to task DHS offices and components to implement such a program, the needed breadth of resources, and adequate administrative support. In addition, there is no accountability for DHSTogether—there are no annual reports and no ties to performance. Therefore, the committee concludes that it is not possible for OHA, as currently constituted, to effect change for workforce readiness and resilience. To address the identified program, policy, and accountability gaps, the committee believes that the roles and responsibilities for WRR need to be clarified and expanded.

Recommendation 2: Clarify and expand the roles and responsibilities for workforce readiness and resilience in the Department of Homeland Security.

The committee recommends that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security review the current roles and responsibilities of the workforce readiness and resilience (WRR) effort and make any needed changes to ensure its success. A successful WRR effort requires

a.   Tasking authority to the operational components and headquarters offices for input, feedback, coordination, and development of programmatic content.

b.   Development, implementation, and execution of a long-term strategic plan informed by this report.

c.   Identification, coordination, and access to the necessary resources to ensure its viability and sustainability.

d.   Development and implementation of evidence-based performance metrics to assess program effectiveness.4

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4See Recommendation 6.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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e.   Use of data-driven decision making to continuously improve its quality and performance.

f.   Leadership and direction to the components for these purposes.

g.   Annual report to the Secretary on the state of WRR.

To ensure that readiness and resilience become embedded in the DHS culture, DHS needs to ensure authority and create accountability for building and maintaining WRR. In Recommendation 2g, the committee recommends an annual report on WRR to the secretary as a measure of accountability for the overall program. To ensure successful implementation at all levels of the department, the committee believes that clear, measurable goals and objectives for WRR need to be developed, and that DHS consider holding component heads accountable for WRR activities as part of their performance evaluations.

Authority

As noted earlier, the inability of OHA to implement departmentwide policies is a formidable gap, which probably will not be fully addressed through the roles and responsibilities outlined in Recommendation 2. The committee was not specifically charged to prescribe how the resilience program should be managed, so it does not provide a specific recommendation in this regard. However, given the inherent weaknesses in the current structure, the committee concludes that OHA is not currently well suited to house WRR. Any number of potential avenues to address the lack of authority and accountability for a departmentwide WRR effort exist, from restructuring the existing program unit to administrative placement of WRR under a centralized DHS authority.

On the basis of its review, the committee found that the current DHSTogether Employee and Organizational Resilience Program has not achieved its intended purpose, because of a lack of consistent leadership support, the absence of a strategic plan, a lack of needed authority and accountability, and suboptimal administrative placement of the program within the department. The committee views as major gaps OHA’s lack of necessary authority to carry out a departmentwide readiness and resilience program and the lack of a high-level point of accountability for component agencies.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Recommendation 3: Review and align responsibility and accountability for workforce readiness and resilience in the Department of Homeland Security.

Given the need for a fresh approach to workforce readiness and resilience (WRR), the committee recommends that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security examine the organizational placement of WRR in the department and ensure that it has adequate authority and resources to build, nurture, and sustain it.

The DHSTogether program currently lacks the authority, influence, branding, and name recognition needed to be successful. The committee was asked to identify gaps, and the current program’s inability to implement needed policies and provide the necessary breadth of resources for this vital endeavor to succeed are salient ones and call for a fresh approach and an examination of its organizational placement. Regardless of how the secretary decides to address this gap, the seven responsibilities, authorities, and functions outlined in Recommendation 2 are critical for the success of WRR in ensuring centralized direction, coordination, visibility, and support to communicate and promulgate a program of its caliber. Implementing these recommendations would send a strong message to the workforce and DHS component leadership that workforce resilience is a high priority of the Secretary.

Leadership Development

Strong leadership is essential for building and sustaining a ready and resilient workforce. The committee’s review suggests that there is substantial dissatisfaction with and distrust of leadership among the DHS workforce. The committee found inconsistent and non-systematic approaches to leader selection, development, and education, especially at the middle-management or “frontline” levels. In the FEVS and in public comments to the committee, claims of favoritism and cronyism in hiring and promotions and of leadership incompetence abounded. The committee found that leadership development programs were yet to be approved, were not adequately resourced, and did not appear to be tied to employee performance. The evidence suggests that this has had a serious adverse

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
×

effect on confidence in leadership, which negatively impacts mission readiness and resilience of the workforce.

Recommendation 4: Establish a sustainable leadership development program in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The committee recommends that the Department of Homeland Security develop a sustainable, resourced, and consistent leadership development program for all levels of management throughout the department, while providing flexibility to enable components to meet their missions. The leadership development program should include institutional education and training appropriate to the level of responsibility and distinct from management skills training.

The leadership development program should include mentorship, sponsorship,5 objective mechanisms for identifying high-potential employees, creation of leadership opportunities, and evidence-informed measurement of leadership performance.

Formal education for leaders at all levels should include emphasis on duty of care, compassion, camaraderie, communication, leading by example, and celebrating successes. That will supply leaders with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills to increase the readiness and resilience of the workforce. The committee believes that leadership is the key to the advancement of resilience of the DHS workforce, and needs to be one of the first areas of focus for DHS leadership to invest time and resources.

Communication

The committee found that members of the DHS workforce were largely unaware of existing resources and services that were available to them that may enhance readiness and resilience or that of their families. The committee also found that many in the workforce believe that accessing services would adversely affect their positions, security clearances,

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5Sponsorship is a corporate initiative to advance promising new leaders through the leadership pipeline, for example, identifying high-potential, motivated employees in senior roles who are ready to move to the next level and then establishing formal advocacy relationships for them with senior leaders.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
×

or suitability. That has resulted in barriers to seeking help, which has an overall adverse effect on workforce readiness and resilience. Moreover, the lack of cohesive identity and culture in DHS may exacerbate the unwillingness to take advantage of services offered to employees at the department level.

Recommendation 5: Improve organizational communication to enhance esprit de corps; cultivate a culture of readiness and resilience; and align public perception of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with its accomplishments.

The committee recommends that the Department of Homeland Security develop and implement a communications strategy to build and promote an organizational identity that increases a sense of pride in the department, enhances commitment to its mission, and moves toward a culture of readiness and resilience while leveraging the strong identities and traditions of its component agencies. The internal strategy should promote awareness of, educate about, and build trust in available resources that increase readiness and resilience and should put into place mechanisms to measure these outcomes. The strategy should recognize the diversity in the methods of communication among the workforce and use multichannel communication avenues. The strategy should engage frontline leaders as advocates for workforce readiness and resilience to engage the workforce at every level in every component and headquarters office.

The strategy should encourage bottom-up communication that ensures frontline input into decision making and idea generation.

Goals of the 5-year communications strategy should be

•   Consistent, repeated communication processes and messaging for internal and external audiences that enhance two-way communications.

•   A public that values the work and accomplishments of DHS and its components.

•   A workforce that is knowledgeable about and confident in the availability of resources and services that enhance individual and workplace health, readiness, and resilience.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
×

Attempts to create a common, collective core DHS culture that components identify with have been relatively unsuccessful. DHS needs to foster a shared ethos and culture of readiness and resilience throughout the department that is based on its core purpose, unified values, and innovation so that it can adapt to the ever-changing security environment in which it operates. Trust and engagement between leadership and employees appear to be lacking in the current DHS culture. It is important that DHS demonstrate, and the workforce believes, that it is essential for completing the mission. A key aspect is ensuring that the workforce knows that the department is institutionally invested in its readiness and resilience and that this investment is demonstrated by leaders at all levels of the department. Effective leadership and a strong communication strategy, as recommend by the committee, will help to create a culture in which employees feel cared for and valued. The committee believes that there needs to be clear and consistent communication of the desired DHS culture (for example, shared ethos, values, and norms), beginning with top leadership and permeating the entire organization. Leaders at all levels must live the culture, communicating its importance not only through words but, more importantly, through actions.

Measurement, Evaluation, and Reporting

The committee finds that DHS lacks a strategy, a framework, and a common set of metrics that promote, sustain, and monitor employee readiness, resilience, morale, engagement, and program effectiveness. Thus, DHS and its components lack a comprehensive, consistent, coherent, meaningful top-to-bottom view of the health, readiness, and resilience of the DHS workforce.

Recommendation 6: Develop and implement a measurement and evaluation strategy for continuous improvement of workforce readiness and resilience in the Department of Homeland Security.

The Department of Homeland Security should design and implement an ongoing measurement and evaluation process to inform and improve employee and organizational readiness and resilience initiatives. This will support planning, assessment, execution, evaluation, and continuous quality improvement of the strategic

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
×

plan. Before the introduction of any new measures or the collection of any new data, DHS should access and analyze existing workforce data.

Characteristics of the evaluation strategy should include

a.   A focus on structure, process, and outcome measures

b.   Implementation of a standardized core set of measures to be used DHS-wide

c.   Establishment of a baseline database for diagnostic and prescriptive purposes

d.   Establishment of clear program goals, with associated timelines, that can be tracked and monitored with DHS’s measurement and evaluation system

e.   Conducting ongoing assessment of program implementation, with regular quarterly reports on progress

f.   Use of evidence to inform resource allocation and reallocation

g.   Regular communication and dissemination of findings among components

h.   Submission of an annual measurement and evaluation report to the Secretary (see Recommendation 2)

The committee recognizes that this will require senior executive intervention to make data that have already been collected available for this purpose, that new data collection will be needed, and that all data elements should be integrated.

Strategic Plan

To ensure that DHS can establish a systematic departmentwide approach, it must have a strategy that recognizes and accounts for the various factors that affect workforce readiness and resilience. The goals and strategies identified by the committee throughout this report are the starting points on a roadmap to strengthen the department’s workforce readiness and resilience in the next 5 years. As DHS implements its plan, it must be updated and further developed through a collaborative and coordinated effort that promotes a strong identity throughout the department’s components. Input from and collaboration with the working level of all component agencies will be needed to gain insight on critical work-

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
×

force challenges facing the components and DHS as a whole. The strategic plan for WRR needs to be aligned with the department’s vision, mission, goals, and overall strategic plan.

Recommendation 7: Implement a 5-year strategic plan for workforce readiness and resilience in the Department of Homeland Security.

The committee recommends the Department of Homeland Security and its component agencies incorporate the elements and activities outlined by the committee in creating its 5-year strategic plan to develop and sustain workforce readiness and resilience and close the gaps outlined in this report (see Chapter 5).

WRR cannot be achieved by DHS headquarters alone. Success will require collaboration, input, and commitment by component agencies. As such, within the committee’s recommended elements of the strategic plan are specific roles and activities for component agencies.

CONCLUSION

During the writing of this report, DHS celebrated its 10th anniversary. The department and its workforce have many accomplishments to celebrate—a merger larger than any in the federal government since the creation of DoD, prevention of terrorist attacks on US soil and cyberspace, hardening and resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure, robust responses to major disasters, and much more. However, there is work to be done to improve the readiness and resilience of its workforce (see Box S-3 for a summary of the committee’s recommendations). Implementing the committee’s recommendations will be a big undertaking, and will require input from and coordination with every facet of the department. However, if DHS is serious about improving the readiness and resilience of its workforce to achieve its mission, it is an essential endeavor. If the committee’s recommendations are adopted and the strategic plan embraced and implemented, the committee envisions DHS on its 20th anniversary being highly regarded as one of the most desirable places to work in the federal government (for all components) with a workforce that is healthy, resilient, and ready to meet the daily challenges and mission of this complex organization.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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BOX S-3
Summary of Recommendations for Improving the Readiness and Resilience of the Department of Homeland Security Workforce

•   Develop and promote a unified strategy and common vision of workforce readiness and resilience in DHS.

•   Clarify and expand the roles and responsibilities for workforce readiness and resilience in DHS.

•   Review and align responsibility and accountability for workforce readiness and resilience in DHS.

•   Establish a sustainable leadership development program in DHS.

•   Improve organizational communication to enhance esprit de corps; cultivate a culture of readiness and resilience; and align public perception of DHS with its accomplishments.

•   Develop and implement a measurement and evaluation strategy for continuous improvement of workforce readiness and resilience in DHS.

•   Implement a 5-year strategic plan for workforce readiness and resilience in DHS.

Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." Institute of Medicine. 2013. A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18407.
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The responsibilities of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) range from preventing foreign and domestic terrorist attacks; securing the nation's borders; safeguarding transportation systems; responding to natural disasters; nuclear detection; and more. Created in 2002 from a merger that rapidly incorporated parts of eight cabinet departments and 22 government agencies, DHS has struggled to integrate its numerous components and their unique cultures. While DHS is very accomplished at performing its many missions, the nature of the DHS work environment is inherently stressful, and employees suffer from low morale.

A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security: Protecting America's Front Line reviews current workforce resilience efforts, identifies gaps, and provides recommendations for a 5-year strategy to improve DHSTogether, the current DHS workforce resilience program. This report stresses the importance of strong leadership, communication, measurement, and evaluation in the organization and recommends content for a 5-year plan that will promote centralized strategic direction and resource investment to improve readiness and resilience at the department.

While all DHS component agencies share a common mission, each have distinct roles with different stressors attached, making implementation of an organization-wide resilience or wellness program difficult. The recommendations of A Ready and Resilient Workforce for the Department of Homeland Security outline how DHS can focus its efforts on creating a common culture of workforce readiness and resilience, while recognizing the distinct, proud, celebrated cultures of its component agencies.

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