Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 28, 2010

“I ‘spect it just growed”

Filed under: Congress and HLS — by Christopher Bellavita on September 28, 2010

The existing [congressional] standing committees have expertise and decades of experience with the policy problems of which [homeland] security is now a component, and their continued involvement in the development of legislation that affects their traditional jurisdiction is a possibility. Their leverage lies in the legislative process. — Congressional Research Service “Homeland Security: Compendium of Recommendations Relevant to House Committee Organization and Analysis of Considerations for the House, and 109th and 110th Congresses Epilogue;” Updated March 2, 2007, p.58


The leaders of the Department of Homeland Security now appear before 88 committees and subcommittees of Congress.9/11 Commission Report, 2004, p. 421


The … diffused and unfocused congressional jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security, and homeland security in general, not only imposes extraordinary burdens on the Department, but makes it far more difficult for the Congress to guide the Department’s activities in a consistent and focused way that promotes integration and eliminates programmatic redundancies, and advances implementation of a coherent national homeland security strategy.“Recommendations of the Select Committee on Homeland Security on Changes to the Rules of the House of Representatives with Respect to Homeland Security Issues” 2004, pp. 1-2.


Currently, nearly 90 congressional committees and subcommittees oversee [DHS]. With this many overseers, on a given day, there is a good chance that someone at DHS is being asked to testify before at least one of them. — Michael Chertoff, “Homeland Security: Assessing the First Five Years,” 2009, p. 182.


DHS … answers to eighty-six committees or subcommittees…. I suppose we should have been flattered by all the attention DHS and its components received from Congress. Certainly, we broke the modern record — and perhaps all records — for the number of times people in leadership positions of a federal department were cordially invited to take their seats in front of an array of senators or representatives, pour glasses of water, clear their throats, and testify. Tom Ridge, “The Test of Our Times, 2009, p. 259.


In the 110th Congress, 108 committees and subcommittees [oversaw] the Department of Homeland Security.


“Do you know who made you?”

“Nobody, as I knows on,” said the child, with a short laugh.

The idea appeared to amuse her considerably; for her eyes twinkled, and she added,

“I spect I grow’d. Don’t think nobody never made me.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1852, Chapter 20

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Comment by William R. Cumming

September 28, 2010 @ 7:47 am

Good post and reminder. Actually I have reached the conclusion that there is not too much oversight of DHS, its programs, functions, and activities. The problem is there may be quantity but no quality. This means both inefficiency and ineffectiveness. But DHS has not helped. Its diastrous failure to comply with the mandate of the QSHR in doing a bottom up analysis of its programs, functions, and activities, including budget execution authority and staffing means that DHS leadership still has no idea that up to 1/2 of the department has little or no involvement with terrorism and in fact operates in a management void. Perhaps a listing by DHS of all its line item programs, functions, and activities with their derviation–statute or Executive Order or Presidential Directive or self-initiated with staffing levels also listed would be a starting point. The Department is dysfunctional but only partially because of the Congress.

My key recommendation would be for Congress to establish a new JOINT COMMITTEE on HS/EM with appropriate oversight of all legal authority vested directly or by delegation in the Department and with appropriate analytical capability to develop a long term legislative assessment and process that would build Congressional staff expertise and knowledge. This subject is much too important to be left to the career ambitions of individual Committee Chaires and Ranking Minority MEMBERS. Whatever the party!

Comment by John Comiskey

September 28, 2010 @ 3:31 pm

How about DHS-stat?

DHS-stat: an adaptation of Citi-Stat -an innovative program that holds Baltimore’s agencies and departments accountable to the executive and ultimately to the people of Baltimore. Citistat made Baltimore’s City government more efficient and saved money.

Citi Stat is an adaptation of NYPD’s Compstat that held NYPD’s myriad units and departments accountable to the executive. Since its inception, crime has been dramatically reduced and the quality of life is up.

DHS-stat would be a weekly meeting of all Department heads who would account for its offices and what they were doing. High ranking officials would be responsible to identify problems and to inform the executive what they were doing about the problems at hand.

When possible, assistance and particularly that of other DHS agencies might be requested/offered by the attendees.

While were at it; how about Congress-stat.
Members of Congress would assemble and be questioned by a representive of the American people (not the President). They would be asked what they are doing about pressing issues? They might be asked anything (security issues would be held in another setting).

Initially, I hesitated to post the above. Its delusional.

I ‘spect others know better.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 28, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

John comment is not delusional. The problem is that the rubric “kill the messenger” means that problems or bad news are often allowed to fester until lanced by real world events. Sometimes even that event is not enough to do the job. Some of the lessons learned efforts of the Executive Branch and Congress are downright laughable. Spin! Spin! And of course the top often wobbles before it stops spinning.

Comment by christopher tingus

September 29, 2010 @ 6:05 am

John, your comment is widely accepted here on Main Street USA as specific (partial) remedy to many of our woes! Unfortunately, any such effort may be too late, in fact, it is too late as our economy wanes and our populace is duped by the fellas at Goldman Sachs who are very much involved within this administration and on both sides of the aisle..

As a citizen, I had hoped that DHS would have been more and any and all serving with ID in pocket having the pride and commitment to serve our nation, not their agenda. We have many who seek our demise and unless we have heightened and expertise in preparedness and response which apparently we really do not offer such….

….as a natural USA born and educated citizen of Hellenic background, I understand full well what my Grandparents and others had to endure and work so very hard to make a Life here in America and all those before us who worked so hard to make America, its families and the nation such a strong and compassionate nation in such a short time frame who have saved the world from at least Nazi oppression….

We certainly do need accountability and never more a requirement of those we have entrusted to serve the public and our flag, however do we have the strength to do so…from the looks of it, we are now speeding at Acela rate to third world status soon to be looking up and seeing in our telescope, Chinese flag on the moon as the Chinese colonize the moon and extend far out to the universe and beyond gathering invaluable information from the cosmos while our cigarette touting Chicago organizer and both sides of the Congressional aisle make this moment of leadership all ’bout them!

While involved in international wastewater and water purification project developments and now engaged in securing financial investment into Carbon Nano Tubes, cutting edge technology which will affect everyone and everything…no matter how wonderful we can see the promises of technology, once again, man’s dysfunctional and selfish ways will extinguish the flame of hope…what a pity!

God Bless America!


September 29, 2010 @ 6:40 am

Growed sunflowers and brought into the house. Big spiders running around inside house now. I suppose they were inside the sunflower heads. Sleeping a bit lighter. Just saw one and a second later it disappeared. Wet paint got rid of stink bugs last week. They are attacking the apple orchard now. Use oil base. Working on jail bird feeder, not feeding the spiders. They’ll trap the other bugs in webs. No gas no shower or cold shower. No hot water for jail birds. Lots of sunflower seeds for the birds. They’ll use the sunflower oil for fuel. Looks like a long cold winter ahead. Bird house needs a coat of oil base…More wood work and Sthil work. It’s Sthil life, so ease the tree son. It’s thoroughly dangerous. Planning some duck hunting, so need my shotgun. Got shells?

Spend a minute wisely rather than a lifetime foolishly. A good scare does you better than good advice. Nobody builds an advicecrow. Scarecrow under construction. Need bail of hay, screw bailout close the bank. I got a seed bank.

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