There’s just one Department of Homeland Security. So why does it have so many bosses in Congress?

This piece was originally published in The Washington Post and can be found here.

When Congress established the Department of Homeland Security after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it represented the largest federal government reorganization in 55 years. DHS subsumed 22 existing agencies and is now the U.S. government’s third-largest department and largest law enforcement agency.

As such, we might expect effective congressional oversight to be an essential component of ensuring that DHS performs its functions well and within the bounds of democratic and ethical norms. Yet 20 years on, congressional oversight of the department remains fractured. Of the 9/11 Commission’s major recommendations, only consolidating DHS oversight remains unimplemented. Why is congressional oversight so convoluted? How does this affect the bureaucratic functions of the department? And why hasn’t this situation changed?

Read the full piece in The Washington Post

About the Authors

Scott Welder

Former Staff

Scott Welder is an impact associate at Protect Democracy. His work focuses on securing accountability for abuses of power and combating anti-democratic disinformation.

Christine Kwon


Christine Kwon is counsel at Protect Democracy. Christine focuses on legal and policy advocacy to deter, mitigate, and create accountability for abuses of power. She has led Protect Democracy’s work to prevent the president’s deployment of militarized law enforcement for political ends.

Jennifer Dresden

Policy Strategist

Jennifer Dresden is a policy advocate at Protect Democracy, where she helps teams leverage leading social science research to inform their work in defense of democracy. She was previously the Associate Director of the Democracy and Governance Program at Georgetown University.

Jennifer Dresden

Related Content