To go with the second installation in this series of posts looking into sections of the conference version of HR1, note the provision establishing a second Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.Â A posting here in February detailed a then-newly released report of the Homeland Security Advisory Council on the culture at DHS.Â Readers will recall that it included a recommendation for creating another Deputy Secretary, but one for â€œoperations.â€Â
That report made more hay with its comments about a lack of unity among the ranks coinciding with the release of the Federal Human Capital Survey, which placed DHS at the bottom of the list measuring its performance culture.Â However, its recommendation for a Deputy Secretary for Operations (DSO) gained enough support in the Congress to find a version of it proposedÂ into law.Â Section 1601 of the bill â€œto provide for the implementation of the recommendations of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United Statesâ€ (read: the 9/11 Bill) creates a second Deputy Secretary for DHS.Â This one is charged with a Management portfolio, whereas the HSAC believed a new DepSec was needed to focus on Operations.Â
There is a significant difference between these two portfolios.Â Title VII of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which created the U/S for Management, described it as being responsible for:Â
the management and administration of the Department, including the following:
(1) The budget, appropriations, expenditures of funds, accounting, and finance.
(3) Human resources and personnel.
(4) Information technology and communications systems.
(5) Facilities, property, equipment, and other material resources.
(6) Security for personnel, information technology and communications systems, facilities, property, equipment, and other material resources.
(7) Identification and tracking of performance measures relating to the responsibilities of the Department.
(8) Grants and other assistance management programs.
(9) The transition and reorganization process, to ensure an efficient and orderly transfer of functions and personnel to the Department, including the development of a transition plan.
(10) The conduct of internal audits and management analyses of the programs and activities of the Department.
(11) Any other management duties that the Secretary may designate.
That has to rank among the worldâ€™s most difficult jobs.Â The language in the 9/11 Bill elevates the current DHS Under Secretary for Management (now Paul Schneider) to a Deputy level that is implicitly junior to the existing Deputy Secretary (now Michael Jackson).Â But managing the finances, IT, and facilities just doesn’t seem like the role that needs elevating at DHS.Â Â The HSAC proposed a new DSO for specific reasons having little to do with human resource management.Â Their report states:Â
The DSO would be responsible for creating and/or championing strategic initiatives that reinforce the assumption that all efforts should be about â€œthe Security of the Homelandâ€ â€“ not about the Department of Homeland Securityâ€¦.
Originally, the report made no mention of the U/S for Management.Â I was asked to read a draft of the report and made a few very minor suggestions.Â One was to cite the role of Management Under Secretariat in order to clarify its relative role, which would be unchanged and junior to the DSO.Â The text:Â
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 Officerâ€¦. The DSO would also maintain close coordination with the Under Secretary for Management, whose ultimate role would be reinforced by the DSOâ€™s seniority and Department-wide jurisdiction.â€¦
So what will happen to Section 1601?Â There is some saving language that might compensate for actually moving the U/S Management into second in line of succession behind the regular DepSec (Sec. 1601(g)(2)).Â HR1 actually changes Sec. 701 of the Homeland SecurityÂ Act of 2002 to alter the responsibilities of the U/S Management as follows:Â
The Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security for Management shall serve as the principal advisor to the Secretary on matters related to the management of the Department, including management integration and transformation in support of homeland security operations and programs.
Thatâ€™s closer to the HSAC’s original intent.Â However, the HSAC report also stipulated that this new position should be filled by a careerist, as opposed to a political appointee, in order to instill some continuity and overcome some of the politicized nature of the Departmentâ€™s image.Â The HSAC report went a step further by offering this candid assessment of the workforce challenge facing DHS (in 2006):Â
Historically and for reasons of urgency it would appear that much of the decision making within the Departmentâ€™s headquarters has been made by a core group of trusted appointees. â€¦ we recommend immediate efforts be undertaken to â€¦ 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.
HR1 offers a second nod to the intent of the HSAC recommendations by imposing (albeit with caveats) a five-year term on the position of Deputy Secretary for Management.Â That’s a valuable detail to gain the continuity value, but the responsibilities of this new DepSec could be made more concrete and relevant to the challenge by adding some of the more strategic roles envisioned by the HSAC.Â Perhaps something will change in conference.