In the Department of Homeland Security’s effort to protect the nation, finding and hiring the right people for important jobs can be a laborious task. In this third installment of my series for Defense Media Network, I consider how the department’s personnel system, the pay and the confirmation process contribute to making DHS a crappy place to work.
The personnel system, the pay and the confirmation process
There are always jobs to be done, but finding the right people to do them is often a challenge. Some positions require enormous amounts of training and skill. Others may only require some basic professional skills. There’s an incredible range of capabilities needed when you have a department and mission as big as DHS.’ While there may be more than 200,000 people it employs to serve a singular homeland protection mission, they are not all doing the same thing day in and day out.
Finding those people is an everyday challenge, and it’s not an easy one. Fortunately for the department, many of its legacy components – the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Secret Service, Customs and Border Protection, and a few others have well established systems by which they recruit, screen, hire and train their personnel before they are put into any active service. Let’s face facts – its good for everyone that no one can just show up on day one of their job at DHS and guard the president, screen incoming cargo and foreign travelling passengers, patrol the border, or monitor maritime traffic along the coastline. Those jobs (and others) go to those who have been thoroughly trained and are ready for them, and the truth is, not everyone who is part of those legacy components gets to do those jobs.
The Department is truly fortunate to have these legacy systems that help them put the right people with the right skills in the right spots. Components such as FLETC (the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center) and other training centers do an amazing job preparing a wide variety of men and women for some very intense (and often dangerous) assignments. That training does not end when they graduate from the respective academies. It is a career-long trek to keep each person up to speed on the latest techniques, equipment, procedures and so forth. This is where DHS is in pretty good shape in terms of its personnel system, but when it comes to the rest of the department, it is very much a work in progress.
Read the full article.