Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Legislative Strategy for DHS

A lexis search of the entirety of the US Code for references to the Secretary Homeland Security and Department of Homeland Security should be conducted and made available publically on a DHS website. I don't have lexis. But my guess is that DHS and its Secretary might be surprised at what turns up or does not turn up.

Then a general technical amendment substituting the Secretary DHS for any subordinate officialof DHS named in Statutes except for the Coast Guard Commandant and the Coast Guard should be drafted and submitted through OMB to Congress.

I also suggest that some statutes identified not be delegated by the Secretary DHS to any component in DHS. But some authorities should be delegated to the heads of other departments and agencies, and this is called cross-delegation.

What most non-lawyers do not realize is that unless there is a restriction in a delegation it may be redelegated. Also no delegation prohibits the person with the authority originally vested with the mandate from exercising authority delegated. Obbviously that fact should not keep that authority from being used sparingly. A good example is that Secretary Chertoff could have been the key player in Katrina but instead he choose to pretend that Michael Brown was in charge.

Also not that delegations are to positions not persons. When a person is specifically named, not a position, then that is called a "designation"!

I also suggest that the General Counsel of DHS establish a system of legal opinions, which may or may not be made public in their entirety, that lists all sections of the US Code for which the opinion or interpretation or whatever is issued. This would also identify which legal opinions went through entire GC review and were actually signed by the GC not some subordinate official. The same system would be developed by each subordinate unit or component of DHS. This systematic recordation of opinions could be vital in COOP or COG operations. Well I do stand for "transparency" just as President Obama says he does.

It is important to reflect on the fact that I know of no single cross-delegation anywhere in DHS or its components and that indicates basic legal work has not been accomplished. My guess is that some MOUs or MOA's or Economy Act efforts are de facto and maybe even de jure cross-delegations.

Another legislative recommendation that would also involve OPM but I think would save money in the short and long run for DHS and its minions is to standardized its retirement with a 25 year and out retirement given stresses and strains from the Homeland Security and EM effort. This would even apply to the badge carrying guntoters and the US Coast Guard. This single retirement system would do the most to foster a culture in DHS that was not divisive or a deterrant to cross-deploments to other components and a single career culture might be the goal.

Also the path to develop new SES capability should ensure that assignments of at least 90 days in a field unit of DHS are included.

I am beginning to wonder why so many second career types are finding DHS hospitable? Is it personal finances or lack of financial planning? Is it ambition? Whatever studies in the past have shown that second career agencies often are less creative and energetic than organizations that raise their own leadership. Frank Carlucci--then an OMB Director or Associate Director when designing Reorganization No. 1 of 1973 which broke up the OEP (Office of Emergency Preparedness) described in writing that organization as the "Old Soldiers Home" and whatever his intention that disparagement did not have some basis in fact. Battlefield
comradary often turns to career friendships and perhaps conflicts of interest.

It would be interesting to know if the components of DHS have any outreach program or effort to other DHS components? Even a PPT Briefing offered during lunchtime on each component might draw a crowd if skilled briefers utilized.

I do continue to worry that DHS is not a very agile organization. Why is that and am I wrong to think DHS should be such an agile organization? Also a learning organization?