This Washington Technology story provides a good overview of the current plethora of job vacancies among the senior leadership team at DHS, an issue that I’ve commented about frequently over the last few months. The article includes a number of quotes about these vacancies; for example:
â€œThe vacancies have made a huge impact,â€ said Matthew Farr, industry analyst with Frost and Sullivan Ltd. of San Antonio. â€œPeople there are leaving constantly. There is a constant revolving door. They have all the responsibility with hardly any of the authority they need.â€
One of the first lessons of management is that there needs to be a very close alignment between individual responsibility and authority in any organization, if it is to succeed. To the extent that DHS is not empowered by Congress and the White House to execute the tasks that it’s nominally responsible for, then that’s a problem. And to the extent that the DHS senior leadership does not empower its constituent agencies and directorates to take initiative and carry out the tasks that they are responsible for, then that’s also a problem. Until responsibility and authority are aligned, DHS will continue to be at risk in terms of its performance and accountability.
The discussion of the DHS privacy officer post is also notable:
Thompson and others also have expressed concern about the post of chief privacy officer going unfilled.
â€œThere is talk about downgrading the importance of that office,â€ said Jim Dempsey, policy director for the Center for Democracy and Technology, an advocacy group in Washington.
Oâ€™Connor Kelly, the former chief privacy officer, made a point of getting involved in assessing privacy while programs were still in development and in having a say in policy, but those activities may be reduced as the position continues to be vacant, Dempsey said.
Hopefully DHS will not “downgrade” this important office. It’s now been nearly six months since O’Connor Kelly left, and an appointment is overdue.