Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

October 30, 2007

Chairman Thompson Bids Farewell to DepSec Jackson

Filed under: Congress and HLS,General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on October 30, 2007

In a letter to the outgoing Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Jackson, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson chose to focus on the low lights of Jackson’s tenure. Thompson’s letter is a response to Jackson’s October 19 letter highlighting the efforts to fill vacancies at DHS.

The response takes issue with Jackson’s positive spin on filling vacancies (“filled, selected, or formally advertised” to be exact).  Thompson takes the opportunity to list a number of programs failing to meet expectations that may indicate a pretty clear agenda for the Dems to start critiquing the Repub’s homeland security record.

The programs identified in Chairman Thompson’s letter include:

• The Transportation Worker Identification Card program

• Secure Border Initiative and Project 28

• US-VISIT (biometric exit capability)

• National Infrastructure Protection Plan and the corresponding Sector-Specific Plans

• DHS Office of Health Affairs

• Surface Transportation Security (mass transit)

• FEMA (brain drain)

• Office of Emergency Communications

Of course, the Thompson letter could have highlighted some positive accomplishments by the Department.  But the Chairman closes his missive with a reference to a recent hearing that the DepSec did not to attend. Thompson suggests that the hearing, “Holding the Department of Homeland Security Accountable for Security Gaps,” was a missed opportunity for Jackson to defend the Department’s record. With a hearing title like that, I suppose its no surprise the DepSec had somewhere else to be.

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 30, 2007 @ 11:08 am

It is difficult to follow the OPM list publishing all the PAS, non-career SES, and schedule C positions in FEMA. The OPM comprehensive list usually is published in March each year.
But 2008 is different. Each department and agency is under a requirement to send GAO a letter each month of career positions that have been filled by a former non-career employee. This has multiple purposes but could be interesting. And of course there is always the publication of the infamous “Plum” or “Prune” book each election year for the Executive Brance.
Personally, I believe that Chairman Thompson should limit non-career types in DHS by statute. Use the average ratio of all civil departments to establish the suggested correct number. Also, the Dual-compensation Act which was enacted as a reform because the so-called “Dollar-A-Year” men in WWII continued to be paid their full salaries by the companies they formerly worked for, availability of agreements between DHS appointees and their former employees should be divulged to both the Ethics staff of DHS and of course for PAS level the Senate Committee holding confirmation hearings.
By the way, GAO issued a report earlier this year finding that DHS neither complied with no understood the Federal Vacancy Reform Act. How is DHS doing on that score? GAO is charged with enforcement responsibility for that statute.
By my informal estimate at least 800 positions in DHS were filled after at least informally vetting for political beliefs by the powers that be.

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