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In response to the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush put in place a new organizational structure for ensuring the security of the American homeland, creating the Office of Homeland Security. This issue paper discusses the critical issues involved in designing the homeland security organization and in achieving its goals. It compares existing coordinating organizations responsible for national security, economics, intelligence, and drug control. It then presents the restructuring recommendations of four nongovernmental commissions, all of which recognized the need to integrate foreign and domestic counterterrorism activities, although they disagreed on whether to rely on the current National Security Council organization or create a new coordinating process, as well as on the need for consolidating some of the operating homeland security agencies and offices. The responsibilities of the new homeland security organization are described in some detail. Particularly striking is the minimalist character of the responsibilities defined in the executive order, in view of the extraordinary challenge ahead. Congressional views on the appropriate structure of a homeland security organization are emerging, and these too are described. Not surprisingly, the focus of the Congress has largely been on assuring its own statutory and budget prerogatives. The paper concludes by offering suggestions about how the new homeland security organization should proceed on some of the most critical issues that it will be confronting.

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This report is part of the RAND Corporation issue paper series. The issue paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003 that contained early data analysis, an informed perspective on a topic, or a discussion of research directions, not necessarily based on published research. The issue paper was meant to be a vehicle for quick dissemination intended to stimulate discussion in a policy community.

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