Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 8, 2006

Schedule C jobs, transition, and continuity at DHS

Filed under: DHS News,Organizational Issues — by Christian Beckner on March 8, 2006

The Federal Register today provides an update on new Schedule C (non-career political) job positions at the Department of Homeland Security:

Section 213.3311 Department of Homeland Security

DMGS00464 Confidential Assistant Briefing Book to the Executive Secretary. Effective January 10, 2006.
DMGS00454 Special Advisor for Refugee and Asylum Affairs to the Assistant Secretary for Policy. Effective January 17, 2006.
DMGS00459 Assistant Director of Legislative Affairs for Information Analysis and Operations to the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs. Effective January 17, 2006.
DMGS00460 Associate Director of Strategic Communications for Policy to the Director of Strategic Communications. Effective January 17, 2006.
DMGS00461 Special Assistant to the Executive Secretary and Deputy Executive Secretary. Effective January 17, 2006
DMGS00463 Correspondence Analyst to the Executive Secretary. Effective January 17, 2006.
DMGS00465 Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Preparedness. Effective January 17, 2006.
DMGS00466 Senior Legislative Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs. Effective January 17, 2006.
DMGS00462 Director of Information Integration and Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff. Effective January 18, 2006.
DMGS00470 Chief of Staff, Office of Grants and Training to the Executive Director, Office of Grants and Training. Effective January 20, 2006.
DMGS00467 Advisor to the Director to the White House Liaison. Effective January 25, 2006.
DMGS00471 Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Preparedness. Effective January 27, 2006.
DMGS00472 Correspondence Analyst to the Executive Secretary. Effective January 27, 2006.
DMGS00476 Legislative Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs. Effective January 31, 2006.

One of the long-term management challenges for DHS is going to be the facilitation of continuity during post-election leadership transitions. I worry that the high reliance by DHS on Schedule C and other exempted positions (see pages 74-82 of the 2004 Plum Book) could lead to a chaotic period of transition after a future change in administrations. This chaos could paralyze DHS for months and increase our vulnerability to terrorism during that period.

One solution that could mitigate this outcome would be the creation of a professional and competitively-selected “Homeland Security Officer” career track, similar to the State Department’s Foreign Service. These “HSOs” could be drawn initially from the existing pool of high-qualified people at agencies such as the Coast Guard, CBP, and the Secret Service, and competitively selected in future years. Participants in the DHS Scholars and Fellows program could be offered streamlined entry. It could be implemented in a way similar to the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols reforms of the Defense Department, which require military officers to have a rotation outside of their core service branches as a precondition for promotion. These HSOs could serve in a large share of the key non-political jobs at the DHS HQ (and in Operations & Analysis and Infrastructure Protection) and ensure continuity by assuming acting roles during times of transition. A marquee professional track at DHS would also help the Department to attract the best and the brightest candidates for employment.

Congress should think about these long-term continuity and transition issues if and when it considers updates to the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

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Comment by Brian Duffy

March 9, 2006 @ 11:26 am

I agree with your statement and I would add that there has to be an avenue for DoD to rotate into positions as well, particularly the National Guard. Reason being that the National Guard will be the future of Consequence Management in a WMD/E. I know FEMA is slotted for this, but they lack the command and control ability the National Guard brings to the table.

This needs to happen sooner than later because as I quietly observe, there are too many young kids or inexperienced careerist running around in DHS. While careerism happens in DoD, DoD would never put a “high school to grad school” pimpled face kid in the level of responsibility that DHS does. As for the careerist, having a career plan will get rid of the deadwood that is floating around DHS presently.


Comment by William R. Cumming

March 9, 2006 @ 11:26 am

I am unsure of this statistic but I understand that almost 700 positions exist in DHS that are non-career SES, PAS, and schedule C. If this number is anywhere near accurate no wonder DHS is non-functioning. An interesting point to remember is that typically political appointees have no formal position descriptions and duties are often drastically changed after employment starting dates.


Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » Final homeland security acquisition regulations published

May 2, 2006 @ 8:22 am

[…] I’ve written before that this high reliance on political postings is going to paralyze DHS the next time that there is a transition in political leadership, in a way that is dangerous to the nation. This is something that Congress needs to address soon. Here’s my solution. […]

Comment by Juan Long

March 9, 2007 @ 5:30 pm

Well, this is going to be a problem, and most of you that have knowledge of what a WMD can do, need not read this, but those of you who have no idea, well – it can definetly lay a path of destruction to the environment – meaning human-life, vegetation, insects, animals, and Water. This is big time cross contamination. Either if it is a Nuclear Weapon, Bio-Weapon or a CHEM Weapon all will depend on the deployment method.
To counter-terrorize this issue, is allot of work, manpower, early warning devices and (NBC or CBRN)personnel in place. Since everyone has been trying to re-invent the wheel of (NBC) Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical concepts, instead of using what the Armed Forces have been using for centeries, those who are powerful in their scientific world-try to change it to a civilian mock – and want to change the meanings.
I have been there and done that.

There are alot of people out there that are confused and have no idea what to do or what is going on. I try to help them and try to guide them in the right direction, and they always say, well the government has not put anything out for us to follow. It is a shame how things are going. Nobody wants to make a decision. Everybody thinks their heads will be chopped off if they say something. To bad I say.

DHS, has alot of issue, reporting processes, ground zero training, computerized reports, communications, public guidelines, NBC – DownWind message training, and Medical Decontamination, to include DECON/MEDIVAC Operations and alot more – that they have yet to indentify to cover before they are ready to deploy any kind of teams, reactionary force or Medical Reactionary Team to Ground Zero contaminated Sites of anykind.
Let me give a prime example, do all hospitals, Law Enforcement agencies have their MOPP Suites (or Civilian Life – PPE)and their protective mask. Are their Equipment the same in all areas, except those who must test for contamination and finally – do their protective mask provide a device to drink water while under PPE alert level, Most of – do not. It is the Mellinium Protective Mask that should be used – and it can be fitted for those that have to use their weapons to fire – especially military rifles.
Well, I believe this is enough for now. Hope all goes well.

KINGRAT (Retired U.S. Army)

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