Leadership Vacuum At The Department of Homeland Security

HomelandSecurity9212014The Office of Homeland Security was formed in the aftermath of the worst Terrorist Attack ever committed on American Soil, in the days following September 11, 2001.  President George W. Bush picked Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge (1945-) as the first Office of Homeland Security Advisor.

The office became a department on November 25, 2002, as President Bush signed into law the Homeland Security Act, which created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and mde Ridge a cabinet-level administrator.

The DHS pledged to carry out new initiatives to, the extent possible, protect the nation from further attacks.

In creating Homeland Security, Congress lumped together 22 previously unconnected federal agencies under a new Cabinet secretary. 108 congressional committees and subcommittees oversee the department’s operations.

In an Organization so huge, as you can imagine, some “little things” may “slip through the cracks” from time to time.

Some “BIG THINGS”, too.

Back on September 8th, Reuters.com reported that

The Department of Homeland Security failed to assess the supplies it needed to deal with a potential pandemic and now has expired stockpiles including medications, 200,000 respirators and 4,184 bottles of hand sanitizers, an inspector general report showed.

The department bought 16 million surgical masks and 350,000 white coverall suits without establishing the need for them, according to its inspector general’s report, which included photographs of stacks of unopened boxes piled high in a storeroom.

Eighty-one percent of DHS’ supply of 296,000 doses of antiviral medication, called medical countermeasures, will expire next year, according to the report completed in late August and released on Monday.
 
DHS also did not keep track of its supplies or where they were kept.

“As a result, the department has no assurance it has sufficient personal protective equipment and antiviral medical countermeasures for a pandemic response,” it concluded.

The report comes as the United States prepares to help African countries devastated by the rapid spread of the Ebola virus and work to keep it from spreading to its shores.

The inspector general said DHS spent $47 million Congress appropriated in 2006 for a potential pandemic on the preparedness equipment, medication, research and exercises.

The Transportation Security Administration’s stock of pandemic preparedness equipment includes 200,000 respirators that are past the five-year manufacturer’s guaranteed usability, the report said.

The inspector general said 84 percent of the department’s 4,982 bottles of hand sanitizers were expired, some by up to four years.

The inspector general made 11 recommendations.

“While DHS concurs with the OIG’s recommendations, we had already previously identified many of the issues prior to the review, and have taken comprehensive actions to address them,” including finalizing the recall of the expired medicines, DHS spokesman S.Y. Lee said in a statement.

So, with a virus attacking young asthmatic Americans from coast to coast, and with Obama sending 3,000 of our Brightest and Best into the heart of Africa’s Ebola Outbreak, it has been shown that DHS is not prepared to handle the possibility of a pandemic in our country.

Unfortunately, that “little problem” appears to be just the tip of the iceberg.

According to The Washington Post,

An exodus of top-level officials from the Department of Homeland Security is undercutting the agency’s ability to stay ahead of a range of emerging threats, including potential terrorist strikes and cyberattacks, according to interviews with current and former officials.

Over the past four years, employees have left DHS at a rate nearly twice as fast as in the federal government overall, and the trend is accelerating, according to a review of a federal database.

The departures are a result of what employees widely describe as a dysfunctional work environment, abysmal morale, and the lure of private security companies paying top dollar that have proliferated in Washington since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The department’s terrorism intelligence arm, for example, has cycled through six directors during the Obama administration, decimating morale and contributing to months-long delays in releasing intelligence reports, according to interviews and government reports.

A parade of high-level departures, on top of other factors, has meanwhile helped slow the rollout of key cybersecurity initiatives, including a program aimed at blocking malicious software before it can infiltrate civilian government computers, former officials say.

With the country facing a crisis of unaccompanied minors crossing the southwest border in recent months, the pair of DHS agencies responsible for tackling this problem have been hindered by turnover of top officials. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, for instance, has had six commissioners under President Obama, four of them in a caretaker role because they were not confirmed by the Senate.

And at the Transportation Security Administration, a DHS agency created after 9/11 to enhance airport security, the hemorrhaging of both senior and junior personnel has “had a tremendous effect,’’ said Kenneth Kasprisin, a former acting TSA head who left the agency in May.

“You cannot sustain a high level of security operations when you have that kind of turnover,’’ he said, attributing the defections to “a toxic culture” and “terrible” morale.

Seriously, would you want to work in the Obama Administration?

As I wrote the other day, their planning for the prosecution of the war-which-is-not-a-war against ISIS/ISIL, alone, is reminiscent of a Benny Hill Show-Ending Chase Scene.

How can there be any sort of consistent leadership in such a huge organization experiencing a “revolving door”, spinning at the speed of the turnstile at Disney World or, Madonna’s Bedroom Door back in the 1980s, take your pick.

Why is this department experiencing all this turnover in personnel?

Well, the fact of the matter is that DHS is mirroring the instability and misplaced priorities of the entire Obama White House.

In order to do a good job at any position, much less a Government Job, you have to be a dedicated employee, or, in the case of DHS, a dedicated public servant.

If those above you, from the President on down, are not dedicated public servants, then why should you be?

Let’s face it:  The President went golfing, immediately after announcing that an American Journalist had been beheaded by the Muslim Barbarians known as ISIS/ISIL.

If the Leader of the Free World doesn’t give a hoot ‘n holler about performing his job duties to the best of his ability, why should his employees at DHS?

And, with jobs available for them in the private sector, it is very easy for them to “Take the Money and Run” (hoo hoo hoo).

Unfortunately, as I alluded to earlier, without consistent leadership, to keep employees motivated and “on mission”, any organization will begin to swirl down the ol’ porcelain receptacle very quickly, resulting in the “toxic culture” and “terrible morale” mentioned in the article.

Because, just as they say in the Military and the Business World,

**it rolls downhill.

And, any organization is on;y as strong as its leadership.

However, when it is an organization that has the powers and responsibilities of the Department of Homeland Security, this vacuum of leadership becomes a volatile and dangerous situation, which affects the safety of our entire nation.

So, until January of 2017, DHS is screwed.

And, so are we.

Until He Comes,

KJ

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