Whatever one thinks of the just concluded tumultuous campaign season, one thing is clear: most of the electorate is unhappy with the way Washington works. Restoring the public’s faith in our governing institutions should be a priority for the incoming president and Congress. There is one concrete step that could be taken right away that would signal a new approach to governing. Better yet, it already has bipartisan backing and it involves making our country safer from terrorism. Twelve years ago, the 9/11 Commission called on Congress to straighten out its dysfunctional oversight of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Now is the time to finally do so.
By 2014, 92 congressional committees and subcommittees claimed a piece of DHS oversight.
In the report of the 9/11 Commission, which we chaired, five Democrats and five Republicans unanimously recommended 41 changes to make our country more secure and defeat the terrorist threat. Since the report was released in 2004, nearly all of those recommendations have been implemented in whole or in substantial part, spurring a dramatic reorganization of our intelligence community and boosting our ability to stop terrorist attacks. These changes have made our government far better prepared than it was before 9/11.
Yet while Congress has imposed major reforms on the intelligence community, it has not updated its own structures, even as the terrorist threat has become arguably more dangerous.