First, I’d like to recognize Secretary Chertoff and his team for the work they have done to ensure a smooth transition. I am honored to join Homeland Security and continue the important work begun by my predecessors to protect our borders, safeguard our infrastructure, and improve our nation’s abilities to prevent, respond to, and recover from natural and manmade hazards.
One of my first priorities as Secretary will be to meet with as many of the Department’s leaders and employees as possible. This past week, I met with leadership from each DHS component and will be visiting each of our headquarters in the coming days. On Thursday, I had the opportunity to visit with many of the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard and received an in-depth briefing from Admiral Allen about major issues facing this agency. I look forward to similar visits to other components this week including TSA, ICE and USCIS.
I also initiated a process to assess and solicit employee input about the Department’s performance across what I see as its five core mission areas: protection, preparedness, response, recovery, and immigration. These action directives will measure the Department’s effectiveness at meeting its critical functions, from protecting our transportation systems and critical infrastructure to distributing homeland security grants, assessing risk, and sharing intelligence with our state, local, and tribal partners.
Our goal is to identify those areas that require immediate attention, develop strategies to address short-term needs and long-term goals, and provide clear, consistent direction on how we can more fully unify the Department. DHS has come a long way in its short history. Through these Action Directives, we can continue to focus on growth, integration and greater efficiencies.
There is no more important function of government than the protection of its people. Over the past few days, I’ve seen the dedication of the men and women in this Department in action. In the weeks and months ahead, we will continue to meet this challenge head-on, with the sense of urgency and purpose our citizens expect and our nation’s security requires. It is time to get to work.