Collaboration over Adaptation: The Case for Interoperable Communications in Homeland Security


William O. Jenkins is the director of homeland security and justice issues for U.S. Government Accountability Office. He has been with the GAO since 1979. Among other areas, he is responsible for the GAO’s work on emergency preparedness and response.


Analogizing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to a corporate conglomerate consisting of multiple, formerly independent operating units with little in common and even less history of cooperation, this response to Professor Charles Wise prescribes the “bitter medicine” of interoperable communications. The critical function of assuring homeland security and disaster preparedness cannot depend on the uncertain trajectory of adaptive response.