Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 3, 2006

Detroit News editorial: “Dismantle DHS”

Filed under: DHS News,Organizational Issues — by Christian Beckner on January 3, 2006

The reports last week by the DHS Inspector General , the Democratic Staff of the House Homeland Security Committee, and in early December by the 9/11 Public Discourse Project are still reverberating around the editorial pages of the nation’s newspapers, eliciting many critical reactions and some, such as this piece today in the Detroit News, that take a very radical tack to the Department’s problems. The headline:

“Consider breaking up inept homeland agency”

The newspaper writes:

No problem has ever been solved by throwing more government at it, and the federal Homeland Security Department offers the latest proof….

Homeland Security Inspector General Richard L. Skinner issued a devastating report recently that says the new department is awash in mismanagement and financial problems….In short, Skinner’s report suggests that about all the federal government has accomplished is to create yet another massively expensive and inept bureaucracy.

I don’t think that’s a fair interpretation of the OIG report. The report identifies a number of areas where DHS needs to make serious improvement, but it also notes that “DHS has made progress” and nowhere does it suggest that all that DHS has accomplished is the creation of a new bureaucracy.

Also, “no problem has ever been solved by throwing more government at it”? C’mon. I suppose that polio and smallpox eradicated themselves?

And the article concludes:

Perhaps a dismantling would be the better approach. If the department isn’t working, break it up and send its various agencies back to their original homes. America would be no less secure, but taxpayers might save a few bucks.

This is nonsense. How is breaking up DHS going to help anything? The rationale for creating DHS remains absolutely correct: breaking down organizational barriers and putting the government’s key homeland security assets in one department. There have been problems, to be certain, but that’s no reason to give up or radically change course. The editorial’s proposed solution – sending the constituent agencies back to their old homes – is a flawed, shallow idea and would be a much riskier plan than any internal fix. Contrary to the article, America would be much less secure if DHS folded.

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1 Comment »


Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » National Journal analyzes the 9/11 PDP grades

January 13, 2006 @ 11:13 am

[…] Overall, the article is a great piece of analysis that gets quickly to the complexity of many of these issues, moving beyond the too-prevalent “let’s bash DHS and leave it at that” attitude displayed by the Department’s critics. […]

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