September 07, 2003

More Thuds from the Topkapi Palace

A White House official who works on "homeland security' issues tells Washington Post reporter John Mintz that "Not a lot is getting done at the top of the [Homeland Security] department, and nobody's making them focus on it.... Nobody's got the fortitude to say, 'Sit down and shut up.' . . . It's sad."

Add to this other administration officials saying that "Ridge, widely liked and respected for his hard work, is not detail-oriented and has delegated most tasks to his chief of staff, Bruce M. Lawlor," and Deputy Secretary Gordon R. England's firing/resignation to return to his previous job as Secretary of the Navy--after "Lawlor quickly cut England out of a number of important decisions, and England is widely seen as inattentive... their colleagues said," and you have all the signs of a substantial administrative failure.

Posted by DeLong at September 7, 2003 05:01 PM | TrackBack

Comments

This, of course, was completely predictable (and was, in fact, predicted by, among others, me!).

The kind of merger that produced the DHS would be difficult to pull off smoothly in the private sector, with our friend the profit motive incenting us all the way.

To pull it off in the public sector - and to ask a former governor to pull it off at that - was never, ever in the cards. My bet is, they still don't have the computer systems rationalized.

P.S. For what it's worth, i thought that if Bush was going to go ahead and create this mess of a department, he should have offered the secretaryship first to a man who needed to clean up his reputation a touch, jack welch, and second, if jack didn't want it, to the recently retired lou gerstner. Most of the same problems would have been in evidence, but at least the guy in charge would be someone with a proven track record of, like, rationalizing disparate cultures into one....

Posted by: howard on September 7, 2003 08:13 PM

There was a comment by Gore back during the 2000 election, or before, to the effect that mergers of government agencies were hard to do, took a long time, and were disruptive of daily operations. Mergers to improve one set of functions would usually degrade performance of others. By the time that they were finished, the situation would frequently have changed enough that the merger was undesirable. Therefore Gore recommended concentrating efforts on improving coordination between agencies.

Posted by: Barry on September 8, 2003 04:15 AM
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