USA Today gives front-page treatment to a story familiar to HLS Watch readers: the “brain drain” at DHS:
The Homeland Security Department is losing top managers and rank-and-file employees in a brain drain that could affect morale and the nation’s safety, according to members of Congress and labor experts.
Homeland Security is “hemorrhaging on the front lines and higher up,” says New York University professor Paul Light, an expert on the federal workforce. The turnover comes amid renewed threats of terrorism and as the department readies itself for another hurricane season.
Key vacancies include top leaders in the department’s cyber-security, technology and disaster response divisions.
The latest high-level departure came last week, when management chief Janet Hale announced she was leaving. She joined an exodus of top officials who have quit recently, many in the aftermath of Homeland Security’s failures surrounding Hurricane Katrina last fall.
This month, operations chief Matthew Broderick resigned. Last month, Science and Technology Undersecretary Charles McQueary resigned. And in January, Chief Financial Officer Andy Maner quit.
Meanwhile, the job of cyber-security chief has been vacant since last summer. David Paulison has been the acting chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency since Michael Brown resigned the $148,000 post in September; no permanent replacement has been found. FEMA is part of Homeland Security.
I actually don’t think that the departure of these senior managers is the key problem; that’s a natural part of the political appointee cycle. Instead, I’m more concerned about the delays with which people are replaced and posts are filled. And of arguably greater significance is the apparent dissatisfaction among the ranks of DHS’s career employees, both at headquarters and in the constituent agencies; they’re the lifeblood of DHS, who will still be around long after the current wave of political appointees has left the Department.