DHS: Bleeding Out
The Homeland Security Department is losing top managers and rank-and-file employees in a brain drain that could affect morale and the nation’s safety, according to members of Congress and labor experts.
Homeland Security is “hemorrhaging on the front lines and higher up,” says New York University professor Paul Light, an expert on the federal workforce. The turnover comes amid renewed threats of terrorism and as the department readies itself for another hurricane season.
If you live in Florida or the Gulf Coast, take comfort in knowing that . . .
FEMA typically has 2,500 full-time employees. When Katrina hit, it was down 500. Some of those positions have been filled, but the agency is still struggling to get back to full strength.
For starters, watch for a lot more contractors to fill the void. This is not necessarily a bad thing if they can get things under control so that FTEs will have an easier time of it. Odds are however that more contractors and subs are going to add complexity, making things somewhat worse (if you think the discrete elements of DHS have competing interests you should see what it is like when rival firms staff the same shop).
Extended discontent and low staffing levels for another year are going to be the straws that break the back of DHS: at least as it is configured today. When the government can’t staff an element that does this sort of work with people who’ll have jobs for life, you know they’re in the land of suck. I would expect a significant re-tooling within the next two years if there is not major progress or if there is another readiness/response debacle. Call it “retrograde” and not “retreat” if it’ll make it more palatable.