Trouble at the Department of Homeland Security

March 12, 2004
The March 15 article "Be Afraid" in The New Republic paints a picture of a dysfunctional U.S. Department of Homeland Security that is putting the lives of Americans in jeopardy. The Bush administration has had trouble getting top talent to the cabinet agency, and a former administration official says, "I often felt like I was dealing with the B team or even the C team." The agency also hasn’t been able to retain top management, according to the magazine. On top of these problems, some of the government agencies that merged to create the Homeland Security Department are squabbling, and employees have never strongly identified with the new organization. The Customs Service was forced to scrap its good computer system for the INS’s awful one. Morale is low, and "there is a real lack of identity, mission focus and direction." The end result, according to the article, is that the country is vulnerable and the agency "is doing nothing to oversee critical facilities, like the hundreds of chemical plants nationwide--most of which still have little or no security."