The ongoing partial government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling debacle are the latest examples of the U.S. federal government’s perpetual dysfunction. The conflict between Congress and the Executive Office, as well as poor leadership all around, does not just impact budgets and deficits. Indeed, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has also suffered because of a federal government that can’t seem to get much done.

DHS has the lowest employee morale of any federal department. There has been a lack of any meaningful pay raises, negative impacts from sequestration, poor facilities, and a frequent demonization of employees by politicians. What is more, a significant number of the Department’s leadership positions are either empty or filled by “acting” leaders, including the DHS Secretary position. With so many ongoing challenges that make it difficult for DHS to do its job, one might ask, does anyone in the federal government really care about the Department? Here is a piece I wrote for Defense Media Network attempting to answer that unfortunate question.

DHS: Does Anyone Care Anymore?

It’s really hard not to be cynical in America anymore. We are the world’s only superpower, but have a Congress that is the functional equivalent of an over-sugared, hyperactive preschool class; a White House with an all-over-the-map national security strategy; and an increasingly polarized populace reinforced by a 24/7 media machine that finds shouting more ratings-worthy than conversing about facts.

If you work in homeland security, and in particular, DHS, that cynicism may be even stronger given that your boss, and probably their boss, and the boss’ boss is serving in an “acting” capacity. Vacuums of leadership have become so prolific at DHS it would not be uncommon to be introduced to someone and ask if they too were “acting” in some capacity. Resignations and employee departures are nothing new. They happen in every workplace, be they public or private sector, but in DHS they have become so prolific that the norm has become “acting.”

So that begs the question about DHS: “Does anyone care anymore?”

Read the full article.

Rich Cooper blogs primarily on emergency preparedness and response, management issues related to the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector’s role in homeland security. Read More