The U.S. Homeland Security Department is losing many top managers and rank-and-file employees, says USA Today. Homeland Security is “hemorrhaging on the front lines and higher up,” says New York University professor Paul Light, an expert on the federal workforce. The turnover comes amid renewed threats of terrorism and as the department readies itself for another hurricane season. Vacancies include top leaders in the department’s cyber-security, technology, and disaster response divisions. There has been an exodus of top officials, many after the department’s failures surrounding Hurricane Katrina last fall.
The impact is difficult to gauge. A House investigation of Hurricane Katrina response recently cited personnel shortages at the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a key part of the agency’s failings during the disaster. “It can’t help morale for the rank-and-file employees when you have so much turnover,” says Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Ms.), top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee. “There just appears to be a continuous brain drain out of the agency.”