Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 15, 2006

DHS and the NCTC: a tale of two offices

Filed under: DHS News — by Christian Beckner on August 15, 2006

President Bush visited the National Counterterrorism Center earlier today. You can see pictures of their shiny new offices, which look exactly like the set of 24, at this link. Yesterday he visited the State Department, holding a press conference in a nice-looking briefing room.

It’s notable that Bush hasn’t visited the DHS headquarters on Nebraska Avenue in his series of press events this week. If he did, he would find out that the place is a dump. Cubicles are squeezed together like some fourth-rate telemarketing firm, and senior officials who would have palatial quarters in most other agencies are squeezed into tiny offices.

This shoddy state of affairs, and the fact that DHS is spread across dozens of offices across DC, play a direct role in undermining the Department’s performance. People have to spend too much of their time commuting back and force between different offices for meetings. The crowded office space creates information security risks. Yet Congress refuses to fund efforts to relocate the core of the Department to a new centralized facility, probably at the former St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.

If the government were being consistently austere, then that would be one thing. But if a new entity like the NCTC gets to have a gold-plated new office, and many other agencies proceed apace with major construction projects, then why is DHS still blocked from getting a real headquarters? This issue has reached the point where it’s a non-trivial drag on the Department’s efficiency. The White House, OMB, and Congress need to step up to the plate and finally deal with it.

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 16, 2006 @ 11:59 am

There are approximately 30 federal EOC’s inside the beltway. Very few are linked and staffing makes no sense when 24/7 is needed. The NCTC new facility is amazingly like the redundant EOCs but this time it is for the integration of the intelligence community all of which have their own facilities. When are we going to realize that there is not enough talent to staff all these facilities and building more is just a waste. Fortunately, the correct attack will make most of these facilities unusable and then the survivors or whatever can go somewhere else and work out their problems. NO repeat NADA critical facility for inteligence or operaions should be located anywhere inside the beltway. Interestingly no documented study classified or unclassified exists of how all these facilities relate to each other.

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