Homeland Security Research Project


With the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the department faced several challenges which were specifically evident through the organizational problems of the department. The present paper identified several problems that stemmed from the existent pattern of bureaucracy, characteristic of the government agencies. The problems were represented through the lack of coordination, collaboration, and information sharing between agencies and departments. With the problems identified being mostly related to management, the present paper suggested a strategic plan, with the main focus on implementing an adaptive management model in the department as well as emphasizing the role of leadership. In that regard, this section provides an action plan for implementing the aforementioned solution.

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The purpose of the plan of action is to integrate adaptive management model within the organizational structure of the Department of Homeland Security, and develop a model for integrating collaborative leadership practices into the organizational culture of the Department of Homeland Security.

Procedures for Adaptive management

The action plan consists of five phases, based on the standard project management life cycle, which are as follows (Dinsmore & Cabanis-Brewin, 2006, p. 471):

  • Initiating the process
  • Planning the process
  • Executing the process
  • Controlling the process
  • Closing the process

The initiation of the process is linked to the process of setting the genera framework, assigning the responsibilities and establishing the timeline for the project. Perhaps the most fundamental stage of project implementation would involve setting up a team that will ensure the suggested policies are followed to the letter. An implementation team needs to define roles and responsibilities to enhance accountability for change. An established communication channel is essential as it will ensure the entire team works in unison because progresses are shared. In general, progressive and efficient project calls for a world class organization whose implementers enjoy mutual relationship amongst themselves. The initiation phases are to take a period of 5-7 weeks. During such period workshops from various departments will summarize common elements justifying the need for adopting the adaptive model of management.

The planning process is involved on outlining the benchmarks that will be used, the milestones, and the main areas applicable for such model of management. As it was stated earlier, the hierarchical structure is not to be abandoned, where specific hierarchies of authorities and communication patterns are likely to persist. Additionally, during a theoretical model will be adopted for the conceptualization of a model that would be followed in collaborative decisions. Accordingly, a model for collaborative leadership practices will be planned and emphasized during such period. The duration of the planning phase will be approximately 8-12 weeks. The actions of during the planning process are guided through the following goals:

  • Identifying the stakeholders in the process.
  • Assigning the responsibilities
  • Translating the theoretical framework into applicable practical structure.
  • Investigating the mechanisms to identify the methods of agency to agency cooperation.
  • Setting the benchmarks for assessing the improvements in performance.
  • Determining the budget for implementation and the required resources.

The rational of this goal can be seen through the challenges in outlining strategic for homeland security, overcoming which would be facilitated, if the strategy includes “definitions of measurable objectives, clarifications of responsibilities among federal agencies and other entities, affordable, long-term budget priorities, and addressed management capabilities and accountability” (United States General Accounting Office, 2002, p. 37).

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Execution the plan

The execution part of the plan is concerned with the way the framework for adaptive management and collaborative leadership is implemented. With the adaptive management model being an iterative process, it can be stated that there are no specific duration for this phases, rather than a milestone that would be established to review and revise the process, along with assessing the improvements in performance. In that regard, it can be stated that choosing the first milestone to be at the time of preparing the annual report DHS might be a good preposition, during which not only the result of the implementation will be assessed, but also the results can be compared on other metrics not included initially in the plan.

The framework for the adaptive model that should be adopted in all agencies can be seen through the following graph:

Defining the challenge: such step is concerned through the identification of in the uncertainties of the problem at hand. Taking the example of Katrina, the implementation of this step might be represented through the problem of dividing the responsibilities, where the uncertainty might be seen through the priority of the initiatives and defining the roles (Wise, 2006, p. 303). At this stage a draft of challenges/uncertainties should be prepared.

Designing a concept: at this stage a review of the practices and policies will be conducted in order to select the most suitable for implementation. In case the issue of uncertainty is not related to an existing practices and policies, brainstorming workshops can be suggested with all the stakeholders involved. Two conditions of adaptive management should be present so that its implementation is appropriate in a particular situation: The first one is the existence of a mandate to take action, and the second one is the existence of institutional capacity for the action to be undertaken and sustained (Benson, 2010, p. 91). According to the Technical Guide for adaptive management, another six conditions can be derived, which meeting can be seen essential for the application of adaptive management (p. 92). Such conditions include the following:

  • The decisions are consequential.
  • An opportunity to apply learning.
  • Clear management objectives.
  • High value of reducing certainty.
  • Uncertainty can be expressed “as a set of competing, testable models” (Benson, 2010, p. 92).
  • An experimental design can be implemented, the results of which can reduce uncertainty.

With such consideration in mind a concept can be designed to deal with specific uncertainties, once they occur during the course of DHS operations.

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Implementing the concept: The results reached from the previous step will be implemented in the situation which uncertainty hindered effective management. Considering the concept of adaptive management it should be noted that in certain cases, in which the uncertainty is handled in policies and procedures, the first two steps might be omitted. Accordingly, the same can be stated about situations in which there are no uncertainties. Being an iterative process, the cycle of the adaptive management will gradually reduce the situation for which no policies were established, increasing the knowledge base of all the parties involved.

Monitoring the results: The monitoring process is concerned with the metrics and indicators established during the designing concept, which are basically the signs of success. Taking the case of Katrina as a model situation, the signs of success that would be monitored might include resources used, time of completion, compliance protocols, conflict situations raised, etc. The monitoring mechanisms might be revised during next iteration cycles for similar process, with the effectiveness of metrics used being documented for further policies development.

Evaluation of results: such step is conducted after the implementation of the designed concept, where the monitored indicators will be assessed against the established objectives for the specific problem in question. In that regard, the basis of the evaluation phase can be summarized as the “analysis of the management outcomes in consideration of the original objectives (Dinsmore & Cabanis-Brewin, 2006, p. 471).

Adjust the concept: at this stage the results of the implementation will be incorporated in to the framework for making future decisions in similar situations. In case the concept needs adjustments, such factor should be considered prior to incorporating the results in the future.

Closing the Process

As soon as the aforementioned model is incorporated into a policy, if proven successful, the process for this particular management decision can be considered close, where the iterative cycle will be repeated for the next problem. In terms of problems, for which the procedures are established, the hierarchical model might still be used. It can be stated that generally, the hierarchical structure would be suitable for routine situations, while the adaptive model can be implemented for most unpredicted events, in which no routine process is assigned.

Procedures for Leadership Plan

The key aspect of the leadership plan is the utilization of leadership and collaborative governance theories. In that regard, the core aspect can be seen in establishing the framework of the plan is the elimination of boundaries when working in collaboration. The significance of this plan can be seen through the results of 2007 national survey, in which “77% of Americans agree that our nation is in the midst of a leadership crisis” (Getha-Taylor, 2008, p. 152). Seventy nine percents of the respondents added that unless leadership will improve, the country will decline. The significance of the role of leadership can be also evident through the questions raised after Katrina by Members of Congress about who was really in charge of the total response effort (Wise, 2006, p. 305). In that regard, the plan of applying collaborative leadership, outlined in previous chapters, can be seen through presenting a model for conceptualizing and exercising leadership in collaborative situations. The proposed conceptualization is based on the results of a study conducted in Getha-Taylor (2008), in which personal interview data were examined on three models of leadership. Thus, utilizing the findings and the method of changing organizational culture, adapted from Cameron and Quinn (2006), the following section provides the framework for such change.


The suggested steps for conducting a change in the organizational culture, in order to change leadership style, are as follows:

Assessment. Complete organizational culture assessment instrument (OCAI), a tool used to assess the key dimensions of organizational culture in the organization. One of the portions of the survey is the assessment of the leadership style in the organization (Cameron & Quinn, 2006). Through such process the organization will be able to determine the current position of the company in terms of leadership. It is suggested that the survey should be modified to include the items identified in Getha-Taylor (2008), such as interpersonal skills, oral communication, external awareness, and continual learning. Approximate time for implementation is 3-5 weeks. The assessment should include all of the sub-departments in the DHS.

Profiling. This phase is concerned with computing an organizational culture profile for the current culture in the organization. The procedures for such steps include calculating the scores for the items under the Now and Preferred column, computing the average across all departments, and identify the profile used. Approximate time for implementation is about 2-3 weeks.

Discussions. This phase is concerned with holding a consensus on the characteristics among the different department regarding the profile of the organizational culture. The implementation of this phase is suggested to be held in several workshops or seminars, with all the stakeholders in the process involved. Approximate time for the implementation of this phase is to be determined during implementation, so that dispersion in the periods is avoided.

Rating. This phase mirrors the first phase of the plan. However, at this time the survey will be concerned with the way the organization should be in the future. Similarly, the modified version that includes the elements of collaborative leadership might be suggested, and in case they were used in the first assessment, they should be repeated at this phase too. The profiling the discussions phases should be repeated for this rating too, with the following distinctions:

  • The Profiling is concerned with the desired organizational culture.
  • The discussions should identify the differences between the two profiles and the key aspects at which the largest gap is observed.

Determination of the change aspects. At this stage with the elements of the desired culture established the organization will identify the practices that imply increasing the rating of the element. Similarly, at this stage, workshops might be established with representative from all departments, who will discuss the practices under each point. The usage of illustrative stories might prove beneficial, and in the present case working out through the process might be demonstrated through using the Katrina disaster response as an illustrative story, in which increasing the rating of a specific element will be shown as a real life example of “what could have been done” scenario. The areas in which the change should occur will be identified as well. Approximate time for implementation is about 1-2 weeks.

The last steps are concerned with designing and implementing a strategy for change, where the strategy will be based on the result and the process identified in the aforementioned framework. In the present case such step will be mainly concerned with such activities as conducting training sessions for the development of specific skills, changes in the HR recruitment strategies, and changes in the collaborative protocols between departments, which will emphasize the identified processes, and develop identified skills.


Benson, M. H. (2010). Adaptive Management Approaches by Resource Management Agencies in the United States: Implications for Energy Development in the Interior West. Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law, 29(1), 87-118. Web.

Cameron, K. S., & Quinn, R. E. (2006). Diagnosing and changing organizational culture : based on the competing values framework (Rev. ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Dinsmore, P. C., & Cabanis-Brewin, J. (2006). The AMA handbook of project management (2nd ed.). New York: AMACOM.

Getha-Taylor, H. (2008). Reconsidering leadership theory and practice for collaborative governance: examining the U.S. Coast Guard. In R. Fleishman, C. Gerard & R. O’Leary (Eds.), Pushing the Boundaries: New Frontiers in Conflict Resolution and Collaboration (pp. 151-173): Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

United States General Accounting Office. (2002). HOMELAND SECURITY: Management Challenges Facing Federal Leadership. (Report No GAO-03-260). Web.

Wise, C. R. (2006). Organizing for Homeland Security after Katrina: Is Adaptive Management What’s Missing”. Public Administration Review, 302-318. Web.

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