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HLS: Not Serious IXX

The federal research agency in charge of countering emerging terrorist threats such as liquid explosives is so hobbled by poor leadership, weak financial management and inadequate technology that Congress is on the verge of cutting its budget in half.

The Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology Directorate has struggled with turnover, reorganizations and raids on its budget since it was established in 2003, according to independent scientists, department officials and senior members of Congress.[…]

But with DHS’s well-documented start-up problems, the S&T Directorate has been thinly staffed and deprived of money. Its reorganization was put on the back burner by Secretary Michael Chertoff, who took over in March 2005. Meanwhile, its management problems sapped the confidence of administration officials and congressional funders, analysts said.

The resulting turmoil has swept up its leaders. Navy Rear Adm. Jay M. Cohen, its fourth permanent or acting head since 2003, came onto the job this month, after the London plot became public.

In February, the Bush administration announced it would carve $315 million from the agency’s $1.3 billion budget to create a new radiological and nuclear detection program. The agency’s previous director, Charles E. McQueary, decided he had accomplished all he could and resigned.

When you can’t keep a guy in the head shed for at least a year, things aren’t broken, they’re crushed. This is a shame because a good S&T directorate can do amazing things. Going Ginsu on the budget  won’t kill the directorate, but should force DHS leadership to pay attention to the geeks for a while and provide the focus necessary to get things back on track in the future. In the mean time however don’t think that the TSA striptease is going to stop any time soon.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.