Chertoff, Ridge extol private sector partnerships
Regulations and procedures about engaging with the private sector are hindering federal homeland security efforts, according to two former homeland security secretaries.
Experts believe that sharing information about potential terrorist threats with companies that control transportation, energy, finance, health care, telecommunications and other parts of national infrastructure is as important to developing a resilient society as the public providing tips to the government. A factor that inhibits the Department of Homeland Security from real-time sharing of information with the private sector is the security clearance process, Michael Chertoff said Tuesday during a panel discussion at Georgetown University that coincided with the department’s eighth anniversary.
Simplifying some of the arcane requirements on how to obtain and maintain a clearance to receive sensitive information ‘would go some distance to making information available more quickly,’ he said.
Chertoff heads his own security and government affairs consulting firm, The Chertoff Group.
Tom Ridge, who under President George W. Bush was the first DHS secretary, complained that lobbying rules are so tight that it is difficult to get input from experts in the private sector about ways to solve tough policy challenges.
‘It would be great if Congress would revisit the rules and restrictions and regulations about engaging the private sector more intimately in developing partnerships with the federal government.
‘The regulations are written to the extent that we’re really not going to trust people in the private sector because heaven forbid they might be financially advantaged either with a contract or just general information. And I think it’s about doggone time that this country recognized that as talented a pool of people as we have in the federal government the wealth of experience and capability in the private sector ought to be brought into the federal government to deal with a lot of issues,’ he said.
Ridge, who formed his own strategic consulting firm, Ridge Global in 2007, said the rules are intended to prevent rogue behavior, but end up cutting off the government from good sources of ideas.
President Obama issued an executive order last June officially directing agencies not to appoint or reappoint lobbyists to serve on government advisory committees, but Ridge said the problem predates the Obama administration. White House officials argue that it is not fair for lobbyists to have the opportunity to advocate for their clients from within the government.
The Department of Homeland Security and component agencies rely on at least nine advisory bodies for policy assistance, including the Commercial Operations Advisory Committee, the National Maritime Security Advisory Committee, the Homeland Security Advisory Council, the National Infrastructure Advisory Council and the Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee. ‘ Eric Kulisch