Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 4, 2007

DHS Culture Task Force Report Released + Week Ahead for DHS

Filed under: General Homeland Security,Organizational Issues — by Jonah Czerwinski on February 4, 2007

Last month DHS released the report of a taskforce created under the Homeland Security Advisory Council charged with recommending ways the Secretary could develop a more effective culture throughout the Department. Originally called the Common Culture Task Force, it kicked off with an initial meeting September 13, 2006, with the following mission:

In June 2006, the Secretary directed the HSAC to establish a Common Culture Task Force to provide suggestions and recommendations on achieving and maintaining an energetic, dedicated, unified operational mission-focused culture within the Department. The Task Force will provide organizationally independent findings, suggestions, and recommendations in a brief written report, which shall include identification and consideration of technologies, concepts, and ideas from all sources and across the spectrum of Homeland Security Operations.

In addition to briefings from various component agencies that seem to have a common culture of their own (Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan gave the first talk), Taskforce members were given a peek at the worst indicator. Dr. Leslie Pollack, Manager of HR Research & Studies Group at the Office of Personnel Management gave a rundown of the 2004 and 2006 Federal Human Capital Survey findings on DHS. Needless to say, it was not an upper.

After only about five months of work, the Taskforce agreed to a final draft for approval on January 8. The report hit at just the same time the 2006 Federal Human Capital Survey was released publicly with discouraging assessments of DHS. (The Department ranked 36 out of 36 agencies surveyed on results-oriented performance culture, among other things.) The Culture Taskforce report made six primary recommendations. I’ll highlight two.

It’s rare that an advisory group offers a set of recommendations without attempting organizational reform or the creation of positions and titles. The CTF report includes rationale for creating a second Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, this one for Operations. I was able to help write the final language for this recommendation, but I’m still unsure it would work. Here’s the gist:

This [Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security for Operations] would also be in a position of continuity to help drive organizational maturation and to reinforce the culture required for the long-term success of DHS and its components. The DSO would be selected from candidates with a strong National Security operations background similar to a Chief Operations Officer…. The DSO would also maintain close coordination with the Under Secretary for Management, whose ultimate role would be reinforced by the DSO’s seniority and Department-wide jurisdiction.… The DSO would be responsible for creating and/or championing strategic initiatives that reinforce the assumption that all efforts should be about “the Security of the Homeland” – not about the Department of Homeland Security….

The most valuable part of this particular recommendation is the clear-eyed assessment made by the report about the unintended consequences that can flow from an over dependence on political appointees:

Historically and for reasons of urgency it would appear that much of the decision making within the Department’s headquarters has been made by a core group of trusted appointees. … we recommend immediate efforts be undertaken to … identify, select, formally train and empower Government Service personnel throughout the Headquarters to assume positions for a leadership transition period that should be in effect for at least six months on either side of the November 2008 presidential election.

At some point, Taskforce co-chairs agreed that no organization like DHS should realistically aspire to a “common” culture, and so in addition to dropping the word from their Taskforce title, members crafted language for what they called a “Blended Culture.” Here is the thrust of their reasoning:

  • No single Homeland Security culture is possible or – for that matter – wise.
  • DHS must leverage its Components’ unique cultures to create organizational and operational capacities greater than is the sum of their parts.
  • Under Senior Homeland Security leadership – preferably a career employee – DHS should consider outsourcing the continuous development and sustainment of a mission-focused culture within the spectrum of Homeland Security activities.
  • Address the appointee imbalance now. Start supplementing appointee personnel throughout the Headquarters with Government personnel to prevent an organizational vacuum and possible Homeland Security “meltdown” that could result with a change in Administrations.

FINAL NOTE: Another post will appear soon about an HSAC report on layered defense that, after becoming bogged down in internal reviews for almost a year, recently surfaced on a DHS webpage.

FINAL FINAL NOTE: Go Bears.

Update (2/5/07): Go Colts.

And, of course, an HLSWatch standard ingredient:

THE WEEK AHEAD FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

February 5 – FEBRUARY 9, 2007

Monday, February 5

11:30 AM EST
U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad W. Allen will deliver the keynote address at the Passenger Vessel Association Annual Convention
Charleston Area Convention Center Complex
5001 Coliseum Drive
North Charleston, SC
OPEN PRESS

1:30 PM EST
Secretary Michael Chertoff will participate in a press conference on the President’s fiscal year 2008 Budget Report for the Department of Homeland Security
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
Amphitheater
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC
OPEN PRESS

Tuesday, February 6

10:00 AM EST
Transportation Security Administrator Kip Hawley will testify before the House Homeland Security Committee on Rail Security and Public Transit Security
311 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC
OPEN PRESS

10:00 AM CST
Federal Emergency Management Agency Acting Director of Recovery Division Dave Garrett will testify before the House Financial Services Committee Field Hearing
Louisiana Supreme Court
400 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA
OPEN PRESS

1:45 PM EST
Director of the Office of National Capital Region Coordination Tom Lockwood will participate on a panel during the Homeland Security: The Ripple Effect Symposium
National Press Club
13th Floor
529 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC
OPEN PRESS

3:00 PM EST
Federal Emergency Management Agency Director David Paulison will participate on a panel during the Homeland Security: The Ripple Effect Symposium
National Press Club
First Amendment Ballroom
13th Floor
529 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC
OPEN PRESS

Wednesday, February 7

11:30 AM EST
Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad W. Allen will deliver remarks at the Reserve Officers Association Mid-Winter Conference’s Coast Guard Affairs Committee Meeting
Washington Hilton Hotel
1919 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC
OPEN PRESS

5:00 PM PST
Deputy Secretary Michael P. Jackson will deliver remarks at the Center for International Trade and Transportation 9th Annual Meeting
California State University, Long Beach
Carpenter Performing Arts Center
6200 Atherton Street
Long Beach, CA
OPEN PRESS

Thursday, February 8

10:00 AM EST
Chief Procurement Officer Elaine Duke, Secure Border Initiative Executive Director Gregg Giddens, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen, and Inspector General Richard Skinner will testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on “Procurement Practices of DHS: Private Contractors as Systems Integrators”
2154 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC
OPEN PRESS

10:30 AM EST
Transportation Security Administration Federal Security Director Mike Young will host a media event unveiling a new in-line baggage system
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
North end of the ticketing level, adjacent to the American Eagle ticket counter
5300 Riverside Drive
Cleveland, OH
OPEN PRESS

12:00 PM PST
Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Telecommunications Greg Garcia will deliver a keynote address at the 2007 RSA Conference followed by a town hall meeting on safeguarding America’s cyber and telecommunications infrastructure
The Moscone Center
Green Room 103
747 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA
OPEN PRESS

Friday, February 9

8:00 AM EST
Federal Emergency Management Agency Director David Paulison will deliver the keynote address at the International Disaster Management Conference
The Rosen Centre Hotel
9840 International Drive
Orlando, FL
OPEN PRESS

8:30 AM EST
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Gonzalez will deliver remarks at a Business/Employer Immigration Seminar
Ray Goode-Ryder Conference Center
1601 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, FL
OPEN PRESS

9:00 AM EST
Secretary Michael Chertoff will testify before the House Homeland Security Committee on “An Examination of the President’s FY 2008 Budget Request for the Department of Homeland Security”
311 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC
OPEN PRESS

9:00 AM PST
Acting Chief of Staff for the Privacy Office Kenneth Mortensen will speak at the 2007 RSA Conference
The Moscone Center
Burgundy Room 130
747 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA
OPEN PRESS

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1 Comment »

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » 9/11 Conference Bill – A Second DepSec for DHS

July 13, 2007 @ 9:32 pm

[...] version of HR1, note the provision establishing a second Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.  A posting here in February detailed a then-newly released report of the Homeland Security Advisory Council on the [...]

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