With a folksy smile and razor-sharp political instincts, Janet Napolitano wrestled the federal government’s third largest and arguably most dysfunctional U.S. department into relative shape during her 4 1/2 years as secretary of Homeland Security, says the Los Angeles Times. She gives up one vast, troubled empire for another when she becomes president of the University of California.
Her legacy is “decidedly mixed,” said Marshall Fitz of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. “She inherited a battleship already firing away and pointed in one direction, and she tried to steer it in another. It’s a thankless job.” Napolitano shut down plans to build a $1-billion high-tech fence on the southwest border, but reports by the Government Accountability Office repeatedly found waste and abuse in acquisition programs. Napolitano reportedly had hoped to succeed Attorney General Eric Holder.