“It’s just a huge bureaucracy that people can’t seem to get their hands around,” says a current senior DHS staffer. “I think we’ve done the best job we can to get the various parts together under one roof, but it hasn’t been smooth or easy. There are still a ton of turf wars breaking out here day in and day out.”
DHS is made up of disparate agencies and offices, some of them from other Cabinet level agencies, as well as new offices formed when the department was created a little over two years ago. Since then, DHS has gained a reputation inside the government as a slow-moving bureaucracy that moves quicker when news cameras are around.
On several occasions Ridge held news conferences with little or nothing to report about terrorist threat levels. “It seemed like in the past year or so they were doing things to confirm their existence and importance in the culture of Washington,” says a former DHS official. “It is probably a necessary department, but until they get a lot of what they are supposed to be doing right, they shouldn’t be out there tooting their horn. Whoever goes there needs to settle things down.”
That kind of spotlight-stealing attitude was on full display on Tuesday, when Ridge held a press conference to announce his resignation. The press conference was held despite White House requests that no such event take place, particularly since it was scheduled at about the same time the President was holding a press conference in Canada.
Other names mentioned include Bernard Kerik, interim Minister of the Interior for Iraq and former New York City police commissioner, who did yeoman’s work for the Bush campaign during the election cycle. Kerik, like Allbaugh, would present a get-tough attitude for DHS. But Kerik may have his eye on jobs closer to home. Rumor has it that he is eyeing the New Jersey gubernatorial race as an option, although others who know him have said in the past several days he seemed confident that the DHS job was his to lose when Ridge made the leap into the private sector.p> WON’T YOU COME HOME, KAY BAILEY…
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