Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas convened the fourth in-person meeting of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC). The Council discussed the Department’s progress on AI, workforce adaptation, and the Homeland Security Grant Program. Additionally, Secretary Mayorkas officially swore in Los Angeles Fire Chief Kristin M. Crowley to the Council, the second fire chief to sit on the HSAC, demonstrating that fires are increasingly a threat to homeland security.
“The threat landscape our homeland faces has constantly evolved and grown in the 20 years since our Department was founded,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “The safety and security of the American homeland depends on our Department’s continued ability to evolve and grow alongside it. The Homeland Security Advisory Council has long been essential to the Department’s efforts to do so – their impact can be felt across DHS, including in our ongoing work to leverage the power of AI, streamline our service delivery, and support our workforce. I am immensely grateful that this bipartisan group is offering their time, experience, and expertise to help safeguard our nation.”
During the meeting, three HSAC subcommittees, formed at the direction of Secretary Mayorkas, presented their final reports on several taskings. The reports presented by the Workforce Adaptation and the Homeland Security Grant Program subcommittees were approved unanimously by the Council. The AI Mission Focused report had an amendment presented by the Council that clarified the importance of humans remaining involved in the decision-making process with AI and that the workforce remain at the forefront of any implementation.
The AI Mission Focused Subcommittee’s final report outlines ways to leverage AI to advance critical missions. Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas directed this Subcommittee to address the increasingly prevalent issue of AI and its implications for society. In addition to this report, the Department also announced new policies this week to promote the responsible use of AI technology. Key recommendations from this subcommittee include the creation of a central office to advance AI policy, increase and utilize AI to complement many areas of the Department’s work, and to use federated data systems and lakes for AI use.
The Workforce Subcommittee’s final report outlines potential ways DHS can utilize existing and emerging technology to ensure the workforce is responsive to stakeholder needs – such as through updating training modules, ensuring work environments are conducive to remote and hybrid work, and the proper tools are in place to assess occupancy of facilities. Additionally, the subcommittee recommended that the Department continue to highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion for recruitment and personnel retention.
The Homeland Security Grant Program Subcommittee’s final report outlines policy and legislative recommendations to improve the funding distribution and allocation for the Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP). Key recommendations include proposed changes to the threat risk methodology to better inform the allocation of funding, increased coordination to develop a proper threat index, and a legislative proposal to provide the Secretary of Homeland Security with the ability to manage the allocation process and lead coordinating agency.
During the meeting, DHS leadership also provided an implementation update for previously recommended Council actions across six prior reports, including those to improve the Department’s mission delivery and focus on customer experience. Earlier this week, a new Customer Experience Directorate was formed at DHS to help deliver services that are simple to use, accessible, equitable, protective, transparent, and responsive for all DHS customers. This was a direct result of Council collaboration and investment in the Department’s mission.
DHS interacts more frequently and provides more services to the American people than any other federal agency across the government. Since 2021, DHS has been committed to reducing the public burden associated with accessing available services. In response to President Biden’s Executive Order 14058 “Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government,” Secretary Mayorkas established the DHS Burden Reduction Initiative (BRI) to remove administrative barriers, increase equity, build trust, and strengthen security. This effort has proven successful as DHS has already reduced public burden by 20 million hours, achieved by each subagency reducing paperwork burdens by 10 percent.
In 2022, Secretary Mayorkas reconstituted and re-envisioned the Council to better meet the challenges of the evolving threat landscape and seize the opportunities to better serve the American people. The Council includes former Cabinet Secretaries from both Democratic and Republican administrations; chief executive officers from the technology, energy, transportation, financial, food and consumer products, and venture capital industries; executive leaders of national law enforcement and fire service organizations; Presidents and CEOs of non-profit organizations dedicated to human rights, government accountability, and community security and empowerment; leaders of nonpartisan policy institutes; and other leading professionals. The Secretary and the HSAC members work with subject matter experts in and outside the Department to develop strategies in the domestic and international domains. The members provide independent advice and recommendations to the Secretary.
To learn more about the Council, including its taskings, reports, and recommendations, visit DHS.gov/Homeland-Security-Advisory-Council.
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