In remarks last week to the H1N1 Preparedness Summit, President Barack Obama made what might be his most accurate statement since becoming president. When talking about efforts to deal with a possible pandemic, President Obama said: “And we’ve looked at past cases of this being properly handled and situations like this being improperly handled, and one of the most important differences is where it’s well handled, state and local officials have complete ownership over this issue, they are providing good ideas to the federal government, they are critical links to inform us what’s working and what’s not.”


We can only hope that Obama’s words are followed up with actions out of Washington, D.C., that shift the powers that were taken by the federal government following September 11 and Hurricane Katrina back to states and localities. We have been the lone voice arguing for the last year and a half, through the Homeland Security and the States project, that we need to decentralize America’s homeland security efforts in the areas of preparedness/resiliency, disaster response, illegal immigration enforcement, and counterterrorism. Our reports have highlighted spending on homeland security at all levels of government, the federalization of disasters over the last 16 years, the interior illegal immigration enforcement efforts of states and localities, counterterrorism capabilities across America, and the deficiencies of the fed-centric model. The reports are:

Similarly, my book, Homeland Security and Federalism: Protecting America from Outside the Beltway provides the blueprint for effectively protecting America that properly adheres to the U.S. Constitution. Using case studies that highlight state and local innovations, the book makes the case that federalism isn’t just a theory–it works in practice every day in the United States. On pandemic flu preparedness, the case study to chapter six highlights the outstanding efforts in Seattle/King County based on their experience during the SARS crisis.

Perhaps someone inside the Beltway is listening…