The new Department of Homeland Security flunked its first big test, and experts worry that it is destined to fail again, says the Hartford Courant. They see an agency grappling with organizational problems, starving for budget money,and saddled with leaders who may not be qualified for their jobs. The department was starting to become more nimble and efficient, but now could be forced to make too many unneeded changes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “Will we start to rearrange the deck chairs again without giving anyone a chance to make the current system work?” asked Juliette Kayyem of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
In assessing what went wrong – and what could be improved -experts and lawmakers advised looking down three avenues: “Follow the money,” said David Heyman of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies. Follow the leaders, advised Jamie Metzl of Partnership for a Secure America. “Clearly, we have a complete, catastrophic failure of leadership at all levels,” Metzl said. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Ct.), suggested looking down another path: Follow the department’s organizational chart. “We probably asked homeland security to do too much,” he said. Prof. Paul Light, a New York University expert on government, said, “You have a mix of agencies that have never worked together.”