from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2012, Issue No. 101
October 3, 2012

Secrecy News Blog:


The Department of Defense this week established a new Defense Security Enterprise that is intended to unify and standardize the Department's multiple, inconsistent security policies.

The new security framework "shall provide an integrated, risk-managed structure to guide DSE policy implementation and investment decisions, and to provide a sound basis for oversight and evolution."

The Defense Security Enterprise, launched October 1 by DoD Directive 5200.43, is a response to the often incoherent and internally contradictory state of DoD security policy.

An Inspector General report earlier this year said that there were at least 43 distinct DoD policies on security that could not all be implemented together.

"The sheer volume of security policies that are not coordinated or integrated makes it difficult for those at the field level to ensure consistent and comprehensive policy implementation," the DoD IG wrote. ("DoD Security Policy is Incoherent and Unmanageable, IG Says," Secrecy News, September 4, 2012.)

But under the new Defense Security Enterprise, "Standardized security processes shall be implemented, to the maximum extent possible and with appropriate provisions for unique missions and security environments," the DoD directive said.

The new structure is supposed to "ensure that security policies and programs are designed and managed to improve standards of performance, economy, and efficiency."

But the directive does not explain how to proceed if "performance, economy, and efficiency" prove to be incompatible objectives.

Nor does it provide a working definition for the crucial concept of "risk management." This term, often contrasted with "risk avoidance," implies an increased tolerance for risk (i.e. risk of failure). But the practical meaning (or the limit) of this tolerance is nowhere made explicit.

The Defense Security Enterprise will be managed by "a core of highly qualified security professionals," the DoD directive said.


The state and local fusion centers supported by the Department of Homeland Security have produced little intelligence of value and have generated new concerns involving waste and abuse, according to an investigative report from the Senate Homeland Security Committee Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

"It's troubling that the very 'fusion' centers that were designed to share information in a post-9/11 world have become part of the problem. Instead of strengthening our counterterrorism efforts, they have too often wasted money and stepped on Americans' civil liberties," said Senator Tom Coburn, the ranking member of the Subcommittee who initiated the investigation.

While it may not be the last word on the subject, the new Subcommittee report is a rare example of congressional oversight in the classical mode. It was performed by professional investigators over a two-year period. It encountered and overcame agency resistance and non-cooperation. And it uncovered -- and published -- significant new information that demands an executive branch response. That's the way the system is supposed to work.


New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been made available to the public include the following.

Puerto Rico's Political Status and the 2012 Plebiscite: Background and Key Questions, October 2, 2012:

The Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program and Homeless Assistance, October 5, 2012:

Federal Freight Policy: An Overview, October 2, 2012:

The Peace Corps: Current Issues, updated October 2, 2012:

Chemical Facility Security: Issues and Options for the 112th Congress, updated October 2, 2012:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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