The events of September 11, 2001 highlighted the importance of homeland security across the nation. As our federal government moved to refocus its organization, EPA also examined its own functions and capabilities.
EPA quickly responded to its new post 9/11 responsibilities in emergency response cleanup, infrastructure and building protection, and advancing science to better prevent and respond to terrorist events by aligning agency personnel and resources to support new responsibilities. This realignment of resources and priorities was reflected in the 2002 EPA Homeland Security Strategy. It detailed the results of strategic planning for homeland security efforts within the Agency and outlined EPA's activities and initiatives involving homeland security. This compendium of taskings realized the Agency's standing responsibilities to homeland security, and further emphasized the need for coordination and collaboration across the Agency.
January 23, 2003 brought about the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate homeland security efforts, resulting in the most significant realignment of the U.S. government in the last fifty years. Two weeks later, on February 6, 2003, Administrator Christine Todd Whitman established the EPA's Office of Homeland Security (OHS), fulfilling the Agency's need for a similar coordinating body.
Operational since 2003, OHS has been coordinating the Agency's implementation of homeland security taskings and initiatives. OHS works closely and collaboratively with the program and Regional offices to ensure that homeland security policy is carried out in a consistent and efficient manner and that redundancies and gaps are identified and addressed.