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Over a decade after September 11, American citizens are still asking themselves: ‘how much safer are we today?’ This question is also pertinent for scholars seeking to understand the post-September 11 homeland security reforms. This paper, drawing on the public administration literature and using Don Kettl's ‘contingent coordination’ framework, sets out to discuss how well these efforts have addressed the central coordination challenges posed by homeland security. In doing so, it makes two contributions: one methodological (e.g., operationalizing the contingent coordination framework) and one empirical (e.g., assessing the effectiveness of post-9/11 homeland security reforms). The paper concludes with an overall assessment of how to find ways to further strengthen the capacity of the US homeland security system.