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.