September 11, 2002 | Commentary on Department of Homeland Security


The Senate continues to dispute the details of the proposed department of Homeland security

As the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks passes and election season approaches, the Senate continues to fight President Bush over the details of the proposed Department of Homeland Security.

President Bush wanted to create a flexible, responsive, streamlined department, to tear down the firewalls of information-sharing among security and intelligence agencies and to create a command structure free of the redundancy and confusion now apparent in many of the departments that would be merged into DHS.

No one expected it to be easy or seamless to merge 170,000 employees from 22 agencies into one cohesive unit. But the task becomes exponentially harder if the agency's new director must take into account the command structures and prerogatives of workers from the old departments - as would be required by current federal law.

Rather, the director should be free to re-arrange personnel and priorities according to the security needs of the country, to eliminate redundances and re-assign employees based on need, not seniority, work rules or other considerations.

DHS, which is being created in response to an attack on our country, simply can't become another government bureaucracy, beholden to unions or other organizations that don't hold as their over-arching aim the protection of the homeland. Poor employees must be dismissed. Redundant operations must be eliminated. Lives are at stake. We have no choice.




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