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DHS Job Vacancies & Homeland Insecurity

In a report released by the Majority Staff of the House Committee for Homeland Security, "Critical Leadership Vacancies Impede United States Department Of Homeland Security", we learn that 138 senior level positions (of the top 575) remain open. These spots are in policy, legal and intelligence sections, and in immigration agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Coast Guard. These job vacancies are said to hurt our preparedness.

48% VACANT Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy – 48 percent, 11 of 23 Executive Resource positions vacant

Office of the General Counsel – 47 percent, 9 of 19 Executive Resource positions vacant

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Intelligence – 36 percent, 8 of 22 Executive Resource positions vacant

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services – 34 percent, 16 of 47 Executive Resource positions vacant

Federal Emergency Management Agency – 31 percent, 24 of 77 Executive Resource positions vacant

Office of the Inspector General – 31 percent, 4 of 13 Executive Resource positions vacant

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – 31 percent, 19 of 62 Executive Resource positions vacant

U.S. Coast Guard – 29 percent, 4 of 14 Executive Resource positions vacant

51% Vacant with no explanation (70 positions)

44% Under recruitment (61 positions)

5% Tentative or pending appointees (7 positions)

While this may turn into a political football (as many issues these days become), security is no place to be playing politics. That having been said, the report made a point that "One of the continuing problems appears to be the over politicization of the top rank of Department management. This could lead to heightened vulnerability to terrorist attack."

It has already been reported that DHS is plagued by low morale. These vacancies apparently are exascerbating that morale problem. This belief is even supported by Congressman Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), ranking Minority member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee,

Information Week's article, Homeland Security Vacancies Called 'Enormous' Security Risk highlights a number of cyber security breaches at DHS recently.

According to Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., chairman of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity and Science and Technology, the incidents ranged from workstations infected with Trojans and viruses to a compromised department Web site, classified e-mails being sent over unclassified networks, and unauthorized users attaching their personal computers to DHS networks and gaining access to government equipment and data. He also said the incidents included "numerous classified data spillages."

Congressman Thompson is quoted as saying that the "vacancies have weakened morale and reflect an over-reliance on contractors," and that as the Administration winds down over the next few months, additional vacancies would occur when many top personnel will leave their posts.

In looking at the vacancy levels by area, probably the most concerning is the 30+% vacancy rate in Citizenship and Immigration Services, FEMA and U.S. Immigration and Customs