Adventures in Bureaucracy
Saturday, December 31, 2005
Good news about bird flu, but I think it's because all living creatures will want to stay far enough away to avoid transmission.
A theme park for illegal aliens opens in Mexico. Ticket price: about $13.50. I guess it beats the real thing, where people pay a couple hundred bucks to wade across the Rio Grande or trudge through the desert at night. Still, in Mexico can't you wander through the desert for free?
And while I'm on the Homeland Security round-up, here's something else I missed over Christmas.

Skinner's audit deals not only with the department's response to Katrina but also with an array of broader management challenges that have troubled DHS. The department brought together immigration and customs agencies, the Secret Service, the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration, among others. Although there has been progress, "integrating its many separate components in a single, effective and economical department remains one of DHS' biggest challenges," the audit said.
The report found, among other things, that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has failed to maintain proper financial records; that much of the department's technology infrastructure remains fractured and ineffective; and that DHS faces "formidable challenges in securing the nation's borders."

Skinner also reiterated complaints about poor coordination between the border patrol and immigration investigators. Chertoff has rejected Skinner's recommendation that the agencies responsible for these employees be merged.

I've noticed one criticism that has been popping up in all sorts of news stories, and I don't think it's a valid one: speed. Katrina - why hasn't the entire state of Louisiana been evacuated three days after the storm hit? Pakistan earthquake - it's been two days, why haven't there been any relief efforts in the remote villages yet? DHS - it's been almost three years, why isn't the merger of 100,000+ people into a single department running smoothly yet? A lot of that criticism simply seems to ignore the laws of time and space. Sure, there are a lot of other problems, and with DHS the whole idea of whether the new structure is an effective one also has to be taken into consideration, but there seems to be no recognition of the fact that things take time to organize and to get done.

UPDATE: Comment on the report from Debbie Schlussel, who writes a lot on immigration matters in general and ICE in particular:

We're just advocating a modicum of attention to our border problems, immigration problems, ICE problems, and basically the mess that is DHS, in which Chertoff has done little in this past year "on the job." Chertoff could start by applying a little Talmudic skills that his rabbi father must surely have learned . . . such as studying the text of the DHS Inspector General reports and following some of the advice therein.
More on FEMA and the Department. Maybe Mike Brown wasn't the clueless bureaucrat he was made out to be...

Brown further alienated Ridge's team when he argued that DHS did not need an emergency operations center at its headquarters because FEMA already had one. DHS built its own command center anyway, with Coast Guard officers in charge. "Everybody wanted a toy," Brown grumbled. "Fancy screens and all that kind of stuff."

Brown was the only undersecretary who did not work at DHS headquarters, and he wanted to keep it that way. "There was so much spinning of wheels," he said. "The meetings just drove me nuts."
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Everyone in the office was talking about this article today. The title of the series is great: PRELUDE TO DISASTER: The Making of DHS. It rings true from my perspective.

In retrospect, it seems obvious that the whole thing wasn't thought through (my office, for instance, is one of those small places that really didn't fit too well on the simplified org chart). It required strong leadership to articulate departmental vision and try to bring everyone on board. Instead, we got this:

Justice officials believed DHS had "too much focus on marketing and not enough on substantive delivery," in the words of one aide to then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft. "They were consumed with their public perception," said Mark Corallo, an Ashcroft spokesman

That whole thing about the branding? Absolutely true. In fact, that was one of the first things I remember about the merger - the guidelines about proper use of departmental branding and the like seemed like the number one priority from headquarters. Note to you branding people: cool gray on punched up blue may sound like nice colors, but it's tough to make a legible Power Point slide with them. With all the problems facing the department, the big priority for the first year was the pins. Mine is in a box somewhere.

Then there was "a modest proposal to a Cabinet-level "principals" meeting -- a new "border-centric" agency that would bring together immigration officers, customs agents and other border-related personnel then scattered around the government. No Cabinet secretaries supported him.
"The only person at the time that thought it was a good idea was yours truly," Ridge recalled.
It might have worked if they'd actually merged the agencies doing immigration work, but instead INS and Customs were broken apart, then put back together as three agencies. From what I've heard, things haven't been working out too well at all. Loads of experienced people who know immigration law are leaving, and the new people on the borders aren't able to pick up the slack because they're expected to be generalists. Every time I hear from one of my old colleagues from the airport days, I'm more and more thankful that I got out when I did!

I can hardly wait for tomorrow's exciting installment.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Here's one take on one bit of the current DHS structure.
New Orleans after the storm.
I can't say I have much sympathy for these two women, since I don't see how Virginia law is taking away anything that they had before. One of the participants in today's forum made the point I was thinking:

I read this article, but thought it did not discuss the real issues very well, nor present any factual information on the topic. Perhaps that was the point, merely to be a character study, but given the topic, I would expect a little more research and "journalism" involved to tell the reader something. For example, Maryland doesn't recognize same-sex marriages, either, so what benefits does this couple think they are getting that they didn't have in Virginia? Furthermore, the title of the article seemed inflamatory and is actually inaccurate. They were not forced to go anywhere, they merely chose to. Why they felt this was so important if they really liked their old neighborhood was not examined -- whether merely their feelings, or any actual basis. The only couple of instances given for their reasoning had to do with things that are not legal issues, but policy decisions of employers or companies, or private enterprises. Their big issues mentioned were being afraid of not allowed to visit one another in the hospital, and complaining about not getting discounts on car rentals or "having to pay two health care bills", whatever that means. As far as I know, there is no law that regulates who hospitals can choose to give visitation rights to. I would think it possible to choose a hospital that allows a patient to decide whom they want on a visitors list. As for discounts on car rentals--what's that all about, do they really rent cars so much that this is a big reason to move for them?
Sunday, December 18, 2005
The rich really ARE different.

With a living room ceiling that soars 22 feet above the carpeted floor, no ordinary Christmas tree would do. A standard seven-footer, Daphne Kessler decided, would look "kind of weird," dwarfed by the second-floor balcony and the towering Palladian window.
She needed a tree majestic enough to reach toward the ceiling painted with her family's coat of arms. A tree as grand as the five-bedroom, 6,000-square-foot Great Falls home that Kessler moved into almost four years ago with her husband and two children.

So Kessler bought a 12-foot behemoth that her interior designer decorated by climbing so high up a ladder that, he said, "I feel like a monkey up here."

My interior designer refuses to set foot in my apartment because of the clutter and my unwillingness to retain a staff for my 800 square feet.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Going to the mall in December is a bad thing, but at least I'm done with my Christmas shopping, so I don't have to go back. This is a good thing, because the gridlock in Tyson's Corner is something to behold. Unfortunately I beheld it as I crept along in it.

So to avoid the traffic on an after-work return trip (poor planning on my part), I ducked into the movies to see "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe". It was just about perfect. I am one of those rabid fans of the series who could practically recite some of the dialog, and the changes and additions they did make really did help move the movie along. There may be a return trip in my future! And it looks like they could move on to "Prince Caspian". Hopefully they'll make it to "The Horse and his Boy", which is my favorite in the series.

But despite the success of Narnia, all is not well in Hollywoodland. No, the one that was supposed to thrash all the competition, "King Kong", is apparently not living up to expectations, and that's causing much wailing and gnashing of teeth. I don't know why this is really a surprise - the movie's three hours long, and unless they made some big changes in this version, Kong dies at the end, so it's kind of a downer to boot. All things considered, I'd just as soon wait for the DVD instead of plonking down twenty bucks for it.

As for the other highly touted movies of the season, feh. The gay cowboy movie looks dreadfully dull - going by the publicity material, it doesn't look like anything much happens. Then there's the movie about a transsexual. Yawn. "Syriana"? "The Family Stone"? "Cheaper by the Dozen 2"? "The Producers" can't come out fast enough.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Good news: I finished the bulk of my Christmas shopping this evening, so I don't have to go back to a mall for the rest of the year.

Bad news: there are a lot of really ugly clothes out there.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Next time you're tempted to explain away a typo as nothing of any importance, think about this.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
The past week at work was not fun, to say the least, since so many people were on leave that in addition doing whatever it is I do, I got to pick up the slack for doing whatever it is my co-workers do (and I'm still not totally clear on what that is for some of them).

All the attention to work has meant no attention to my apartment, which has since descended into squalor. It's not like it's tidy even at the best of times, since I seem to thrive on clutter, but now it's bad even by my low standards. So this weekend's big exciting plans are to stay inside where it's warm and try to clean the place up a bit. More than once I've asked myself where all this crap comes from.

And this answer is the U.S. Postal Service. I've just spent an hour sorting the non-bill pile, which is a huge stack of catalogs, credit card offers and various and sundry demands for money. I once made the mistake of responding to one of those public television requests for money, and since then WETA has been blitzing my mailbox, begging for more. And maybe, just maybe, if it didn't look like they spent my previous donation exclusively on direct mail solicitations for more donations, I might be inclined to give them more.
Personal comments, opinions and observations from someone stuck inside the Capital Beltway.

10/01/2002 - 11/01/2002 / 11/01/2002 - 12/01/2002 / 12/01/2002 - 01/01/2003 / 01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003 / 02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 / 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 / 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 / 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 / 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 / 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 / 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 / 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 / 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 / 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 / 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 / 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 / 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 / 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 / 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 / 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 / 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 / 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 / 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 / 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 / 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 / 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 / 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 / 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 / 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 / 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 / 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 / 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 / 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 / 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 / 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 / 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 / 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 / 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 / 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008 / 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 / 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008 / 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 / 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 / 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 / 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 / 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008 / 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 / 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 / 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 / 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009 / 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 / 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 / 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 / 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 / 06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009 / 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009 / 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009 / 11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009 / 12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010 / 01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010 / 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010 / 05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010 / 06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010 / 08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010 / 12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011 / 05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012 /

Powered by Blogger

adventurerinbureaucracy -at-

From Greater Washington
LaShawn Barber's Corner
Blithering Idiot
Consul-at-Arms II
Cranky Conservative
Daily Demarche
Dappled Things
DC Blogs
D.C. in B&W
Faceless Bureaucrat
Galley Slaves
Harry Potter and the Urban School Nightmare
The Hegemonist
INDC Journal
Kinshasa on the Potomac
Lintefiniel Musings
Michelle Malkin
New Federalist
New Sisyphus
Professor Chaos
Purple Motes
The Skeptical Bureaucrat
Eve Tushnet
Why I Hate DC
Washington Post
Front Page
National Review
Town Hall
Weekly Standard

From the Outside World
Ace of Spades
The Anchoress
The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat
The Big Feed
Tim Blair
Boomer Deathwatch
Brussels Journal
Catholic and Enjoying It
Combat Boots
Coming Anarchy
Confessions of a Closet Republican
Cracks in the Sanitarium
The Curt Jester
Davids Medienkritik
Eyesore of the Month
Five Feet of Fury
Gates of Vienna
Geographic Travels
The Glory of Carniola
Ghost of a Flea
Iraq at a Glance
Iraq the Model
Joanne Jacobs
Life After Jerusalem
James Lileks
Little Green Footballs
Logic and Sanity
New Spew
Nihilist in Golf Pants
Open Book
Professor Bunyip
Relapsed Catholic
Right Wing News
Savage Chickens
Debbie Schlussel
Scraps of Moscow
Slavs of New York
Steyn Online
Thrown Back
Twisted Spinster
Twisted Spinster
Victory Soap
Least Loved Bedtime Stories
A Crafty Madness
Ceske Noviny
Drudge Report