With support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, FPRI’s Center of Terrorism and Counterterrorism examined the Commonwealth’s overall state of readiness, as well as the state’s success and failures in using Homeland Security resources.
On Tuesday, November 22, 2011 Governor Tom Corbett announced that the Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security (OHS) would be moved from its former location at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and would instead be co-located with the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP). This move, though not widely reported, is extremely important, as it seeks to address a significant shortfall in a key Homeland Security responsibility: the protection of the Commonwealth’s Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources.
Since the events of September 11, 2001, Homeland Security has become one of the most important responsibilities at all levels of government. From the widespread changes brought on by the creation of a new federal department to the increased roles and responsibilities of local first responders, the prevention, protection, response to and recovery from terrorist attacks, natural disasters and other emergencies has become one of the foremost issue areas of the day. New ideas and technologies are constantly emerging to increase institutional collaboration and promote greater program efficiency.
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, however, systemic inefficiencies arose that precluded such progress from being made. In particular, these inefficiencies stifled the ability of the state to perform virtually any of its Critical Infrastructure Protection duties, which are intended to facilitate the resiliency of the Commonwealth through the identification of assets, the analysis of risk, and the development of strategies to mitigate that risk. While some attempts were made to address these issues in the decade since September 11, 2001, the results mostly exacerbated the existing issues rather than instilling any long-term solutions.
Now, though, with OHS being co-located with the State Police, the opportunity exists for just such a solution to come about. First and foremost, this move will enable better coordination between the intelligence gathering operations at the State Police and the intelligence dissemination functions of the Office of Homeland Security. More important still, this move will position the Office of Homeland Security to offer greater protection of Pennsylvania’s critical infrastructure and key resources.