A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that defending the country against terrorism should be the No. 1 priority for the federal government. It was ranked as a priority higher than the economy, jobs, education and Social Security. For the first time in the past five years, homeland security received more support than the economy as the top issue of concern in the Pew Survey.
There are a variety of factors that have contributed to the focus on homeland security by the American public. These include: the rise of extremist Islamist terrorism in the Middle East and the recent incidents in Europe and Africa; the public debate on a growing concern for protecting our borders; recognition of the increased sophistication in transportation-related threats; and the new realities of cybersecurity attacks and breaches in today’s increasingly connected society.
Because of its prominent role among federal agencies, it is easy to overlook that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was only created a little more than a decade ago. After the horrific events of 9/11, the DHS was molded from 22 different agencies with separate cultures and processes. Some of these high-profile agencies included the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Secret Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Citizens and Immigration Service, U.S. Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. The Science and Technology Directorate and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) were created during the early formation and operations of the DHS.