Top-Level Homeland Security Exodus Harms Anti-Terror, Cybercrime Work


An exodus of top-level officials from the Department of Homeland Security is undercutting the agency's ability to stay ahead of a range of emerging threats, including potential terrorist strikes and cyberattacks, reports the Washington Post. Over four years, employees have left DHS at a rate nearly twice as fast as in the federal government overall, and the trend is accelerating. The departures are a result of what employees widely describe as a dysfunctional work environment, abysmal morale, and the lure of private security companies paying top dollar since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The department's terrorism intelligence arm has cycled through six directors during the Obama administration, decimating morale and contributing to months-long delays in releasing intelligence reports. A parade of high-level departures, on top of other factors, has helped slow the rollout of key cybersecurity initiatives, including a program aimed at blocking malicious software before it can infiltrate civilian government computers. With the U.S. facing a crisis of unaccompanied minors crossing the southwest border, the pair of DHS agencies responsible for tackling this problem have been hindered by turnover of top officials. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has had six commissioners under President Obama, four of them in a caretaker role because they were not confirmed by the Senate.

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