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  4. Creation of DHS

Creation of the Department of Homeland Security

Below are key documents highlighting how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created through the combination of all or part of 22 different federal departments and agencies into a unified, a more effective, integrated Department, creating a strengthened homeland security enterprise and a more secure America that is better prepared to confront the range of threats we face.

Eleven days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge was appointed as the first Director of the Office of Homeland Security in the White House. The office oversaw and coordinated a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard the country against terrorism and respond to any future attacks.

With the passage of the Homeland Security Act by Congress in November 2002, the Department of Homeland Security formally came into being as a stand-alone, Cabinet-level department to further coordinate and unify national homeland security efforts, opening its doors on March 1, 2003.

Secretary Michael Chertoff took office on February 15, 2005, and initiated a Second Stage Review (2SR) to evaluate the department’s operations, policies, and structures. More than 250 members of the department and 18 action teams participate in this effort. The teams also consulted public and private partners at the federal, state, local, tribal, and international levels. On July 13, 2005, Secretary Chertoff announced a six-point agenda, based upon the findings, which included a significant reorganization of the department.

On October 13, 2006, Congress passed the Security Accountability for Every Port Act, or SAFE Port Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-347). The act authorized the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) and completed the reorganization of FEMA, transferring the Radiological Preparedness Program and the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program to FEMA.

The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-53) was enacted on August 7, 2007. The Act built on the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006, focusing on the reorganization of the grant process as administered by FEMA. The Act also reorganized intelligence operations at the Department, elevating the Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis to the Under Secretary level, requiring Senate confirmation. Additionally, many of the features of the new homeland security architecture align with recommendations contained in the 9/11 Commission Report.

The President’s fiscal year 2010 budget requested the transfer of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD)—streamlining decision-making and aligning the protection of federal buildings with DHS’ broader critical infrastructure protection mission and the provision was included in the DHS appropriations bill President Obama signed into law on Oct. 28, 2009. It also elevated the Office of Intergovernment Programs from NPPD to a direct report to the Secretary and renamed it to the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

In 2010, Secretary Janet Napolitano led the completion of the first-ever Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR), which established a unified, strategic framework for homeland security missions and goals. Subsequently, DHS conducted a Bottom-Up Review (BUR) to align our programmatic activities and organizational structure to better serve those missions and goals. The QHSR reflects the most comprehensive assessment and analysis of homeland security to date. DHS worked closely with the White House, National Security Staff, other Federal departments and agencies, and our state, local, tribal and territorial partners to represent the whole-of-government approach to national security envisioned by the Administration.

Last Updated: 05/08/2023
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