Washington, D.C. – Today, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) and Ranking Member Rob Wittman (R-Va.) convened a hearing to receive testimony from independent experts on pragmatic, near-term steps that can be taken by Congress to improve interagency coordination and collaboration on national security matters.
“As with the Goldwater-Nichols reforms and the shift towards ‘jointness’ in the military, interagency national security reform will be a long, difficult process,” said Chairman Snyder. “But we must start with practical steps in the right direction, and Congress must lead the way. Our witnesses have helped clarify what some of those steps should be, but we didn’t solve the problem here today. Improving interagency coordination and cooperation is critical to national security—as difficult as it is, we need to keep after it.”
“The need for interagency reform and coordination is real and cannot be more pertinent given the recent attempted attack in Times Square, the Christmas Day airline bombing, and the recent attack at Ft. Hood, all of which cited lack of interagency cooperation and information sharing as areas of concern,” said Ranking Member Wittman. “The Project on National Security Reform provides some excellent suggestions for changes in the government and includes action items for not only Congress but also all the federal agencies.”
Witnesses at today’s hearing included Mr. James R. Locher III, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Project on National Security Reform; Dr. Gordon Adams, a Distinguished Fellow at The Henry L. Stimson Center; Dr. James R. Thompson, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Public Administration at the University of Illinois–Chicago; and Mr. John H. Pendleton, Director of Force Structure and Defense Planning Issues at the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
The witnesses provided their perspectives and recommendations for practical, near-term steps to reform the interagency national security system. Calls for such reform have grown louder and more numerous—in the past decade, dozens of major reports by government commissions, think-tanks, and other experts have recommended significant changes in the way agencies work together. The Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, and National Security Advisor have all recently stated their support for national security reform. In addition, President Obama’s National Security Strategy released in May included “a whole of government approach” as a cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s national security policy, outlining several key steps that should be taken to foster coordination and collaboration across departments and agencies.