Vacancies at DHS

July 9, 2007
Job Vacancies At DHS Said To Hurt U.S. Preparedness

Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post - July 9, 2007

The Bush administration has failed to fill roughly a quarter of the top leadership posts at the Department of Homeland Security, creating a "gaping hole" in the nation's preparedness for a terrorist attack or other threat, according to a congressional report to be released today.

As of May 1, Homeland Security had 138 vacancies among its top 575 positions, with the greatest voids reported in its policy, legal and intelligence sections, as well as in immigration agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Coast Guard. The vacant slots include presidential, senior executive and other high-level appointments, according to the report by the majority staff of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Chairman Bennie Thompson:

"One of the continuing problems appears to be the over politicization of the top rank of Department management," concludes the report by the committee, chaired by Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.). "This could lead to heightened vulnerability to terrorist attack."

From the Committee on Homeland Security:

Vacancy Report Finds Homeland Security and Continuity of Government at Risk

Monday, July 9, 2007 (WASHINGTON) -- Today, Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, identified in a staff report that nearly one quarter of the senior leadership positions located in the Department of Homeland Security are vacant. The overall senior leadership vacancies, termed "executive resources," total 24%, and refer to positions in the highest salary bands (including political appointments) of the Federal government.

In addition to the critical leadership vacancies, the report finds that an unusually high number of critical national security jobs at the Department of Homeland Security are filled by political appointees. This identifies an enormous security vulnerability should an attack or disaster occur during the upcoming presidential transition.

"Homeland Security was bruised when the country learned that Michael Brown, an Arabian horse aficionado, was running FEMA. But what's worse than a Homeland Security organization with poor leadership is a homeland security organization with no leadership," commented Rep. Thompson. "Not just a national security concern, DHS's lack of leadership has triggered record-low employee morale, an immeasurable disservice to the hundreds of thousands of men and woman working on the front lines to protect our country," added Rep. Thompson.

Breaking down the numbers:

· As of May 1, 2007 there were 575 "executive resource" positions at DHS. 138 of these were vacant (24%).

· These vacancies can be found throughout the Department in a number of critical components and administrative functions. Just a few examples:

· 48% leadership vacancies at the Asst. Sec. for Policy (11 of 23 leadership slots vacant).

· 47% leadership vacancies at the Office of Gen. Counsel (9 of 19 leadership slots vacant).

· 36% leadership vacancies at the Asst. Sec. for Intelligence (8 of 22 leadership slots vacant).

· 34% leadership vacancies at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (16 of 47 slots vacant).

· 31% leadership vacancies at FEMA (24 of 77 vacant).

· 31% leadership vacancies at ICE (19 of 62 vacant).

· 29% leadership vacancies at the Coast Guard (4 of 14 slots vacant).

Link to report: