The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was formed by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The Act brought together approximately 22 separate federal agencies to establish the DHS and establishes the primary missions of the department. Since 2002, DHS has grown to involve communities and citizens in various interests such as emergency preparedness and rulemaking. If you’re interested in a homeland security degree or if you want to volunteer, this list can help you learn more about the DHS and its various components, including travel and civil rights.
Groups, Volunteerism, and News
- Citizen Corps: The mission of Citizen Corps is to harness the power of every individual through education, training, and volunteer service to make communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to the threats of terrorism, crime, public health issues, and disasters of all kinds.
- Community Engagement: Public engagement with diverse American communities whose civil rights may be affected by Department activities is a priority for the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL). CRCL leads or plays a significant role in regular roundtable meetings among community leaders and federal, state, and local government officials.
- Get Involved in Rulemaking: This fact sheet tells citizens how to get involved and stay informed in laws and regulations that DHS develops to regulate homeland security at all levels. This list includes news sources, regulations under review, and contact information.
- Homeland Security News Wire: This online publication covers all the topics that Homeland Security touches, including cybersecurity, disasters, public health, and immigration.
- National Preparedness Coalition: Part of the Ready site, created by FEMA, this effort is geared toward teaching residents how to prepare for disasters. As a Coalition Member, you will have access to resources and be able to collaborate with thousands of fellow members across the country on ways to participate and get your community involved.
- Operation Community Shield/Transnational Gangs (OCS): Since the launch of OCS, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and its partners have arrested more than 23,900 gang members and associates, representing more than 2,200 different gangs and cliques. Through this initiative, ICE has also seized more than 2,400 firearms.
- OSTP Student Volunteer Program: Student Volunteers are accepted for one of three annual terms (Spring, Summer, or Fall), each lasting no more than 90 days. One area where students can volunteer is in National Security & International Affairs (NSIA). NSIA seeks Student Volunteers with practical experience and an interest in applying the intersection of science and policy to meet critical national security needs.
- Citizen Guidance on the Homeland Security Advisory System [PDF]: If you ever wondered how and why those colors matter, this is your guide to their meanings. Also contains a brief checklist of items you might consider during a crisis.
- Communicating in a Crisis: If you ever wondered how the government might contact the public during biological, chemical, IED (improvised explosive device), nuclear, or radiological attacks, this list of fact sheets can inform you. The information is targeted to journalists, first responders, public information officers and science and medical experts.
- Disability Preparedness: The government created an entire site filled with practical information on how people with and without disabilities can prepare for an emergency. It also provides information for family members of, and service providers to, people with disabilities. In addition, this site includes information for emergency planners and first responders to help them to better prepare to serve persons with disabilities.
- National Security Preparedness Group (NSPG): This bipartisan group reassesses progress on the initial 9/22 Commission recommendations. The NSPG intends to follow a process that mirrors the original commission approach to provide useful public discourse on the issues as well as suggest policy options as solutions.
- FEMA Regional Contacts: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides links for residents to learn more about their regional contacts in times of emergency. Information on these regions includes general contacts, including phone numbers, mailing addresses, and media inquiries.
- Immediately After a Disaster: Learn from FEMA how to find your family, get food and water, find a place to stay, and cope with disaster. They also provide information on helping children cope with disaster.
- Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI): The CNCI consists of a number of mutually reinforcing initiatives with the following major goals designed to help secure the United States in cyberspace, including defending against security threats and strengthening the cybersecurity environment against threats.
- National Vulnerability Database (NVD): NVD includes databases of security checklists, security related software flaws, misconfigurations, product names, and impact metrics using the Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP). NVD provides five mailing lists to the public. For information and subscription instructions please visit NVD Mailing Lists.
- Research and Development (R&D): The Cyber Security R&D Center was established by the Department of Homeland Security in 2004 to develop security technology for protection of the U.S. cyber infrastructure. The public often is invited to comment on various findings and reports.
- Secret Service: The United States Secret Service is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the nation’s financial infrastructure and payment systems. As a part of this mission, the Secret Service constantly implements and evaluates prevention and response measures to guard against electronic crimes as well as other computer related fraud.
- SAFTEY Act: The “Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002” provides legal liability protections for providers of Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technologies – whether they are products or services. The goal of the SAFETY Act is to encourage the development and deployment of new and innovative anti-terrorism products and services by providing liability protections.
- Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies: This subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes cybersecurity, critical infrastructure protection, securing government infrastructure assets, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear detection programs, including Securing the Cities. They also manage the Science and Technology Directorate, the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, the SAFTEY Act (see above), and the Federal Protective Service.
- Activities & Programs for Travelers: The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for securing the nation’s transportation systems, checking travelers’ documents, securing travelers and their luggage, ensuring an efficient screening process, and managing the Trusted Traveler programs that provide expedited travel for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. If things get screwed up, this is the place you need to visit to learn about how to address certain situations.
- Transportation Security Administration: If you want to travel without hassle, this is the site you need. You can learn about what you can travel with, how to travel with children, medical conditions and disabilities, and the identification you’ll need along the way.
- Travel Advisories: Unlike other travel advisories that talk about dangerous travel, this list explains what you can take, leave behind, or bring into the country with this list. The advisory also covers various passport and visa limitations.
- Travel Alerts: This is the site you want for airport security checkpoint wait times, alerts from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, international travel warnings, and health alerts.
- TSA PreCheck: This screening concept enhances aviation security by enabling TSA to focus on passengers the agency knows less about and those who are considered high-risk, while providing expedited screening for travelers who volunteer information about themselves prior to flying. It is only implemented in LAX (Los Angeles International Airport and five other locations.
- US-VISIT: This program supports DHS by providing biometric identification services that identifies people they encounter and determines whether those people pose a risk to the United States. US-VISIT’s most visible service is the collection of biometrics—digital fingerprints and a photograph—from international travelers at U.S. visa-issuing posts and ports of entry.