Department Of Homeland Security Officials Leaving Agency In Droves, Is The Nation At Risk?

DHS officials

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) top-level officials have reportedly been leaving the federal agency in droves during the past four years. A federal database review which garnered nationwide headlines this week states that DHS officials are exiting the homeland security agency at almost twice the rate as in the rest of the federal government overall.

DHS officials have reportedly cited a “dysfunctional work environment” and “abysmal morale” as the primary reasons for leaving their positions as homeland security officials. Some of the staffers have also reportedly stated that private security companies have been offering high salaries to lure Department of Homeland Security staffers away.

The Department of Homeland Security’s terrorism intelligence division has gone through six directors during the Barack Obama administration. The leadership changes have reportedly contributed to a decrease in morale and sparked lengthy delays in the release of intelligence reports. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has also cycled through six commissioners during the Obama administration.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), another DHS division, has also lost a significant number of both junior and senior staffers in the past four years. “You cannot sustain a high level of security operations when you have that kind of turnover,” former acting TSA head Kenneth Kasprisin told the Washington Post. Kasprisin left the Transportation Security Administration in May.

Kenneth Kasprisin blamed the mass exodus of staff on both terrible morale and a “toxic culture” within the agency. According to the former TSA head, undercover operatives who have attempted to sneak explosives and weapons past airport security officers have had a “frightening” level of success.

Prior to being confirmed as the Department of Homeland Security Secretary in December, Jeh Johnson said that agency morale and filling the leadership vacancies will be among his top priorities. Johnson also said the DHS faced a “leadership vacuum of alarming proportions.” As a part of fulfilling his promises to the Senate confirmation committee, Jeh Johnson restarted an agency rewards program and increased training measures. In the past several months a total 10 top DHS officials have also been approved by the Senate. Before the confirmations, the Department of Homeland Security had reached a top-leadership vacancy rate of 40 percent.

DHS Deputy Secreatry Alejandro Mauorkas said, “Morale has been low in the department for a number of years, and it is our responsibility to address it, and we are in fact addressing it.” The Department of Homeland Security has retained the services of Deloitte, a consulting firm, to garner recommendations on how to improve morale. “Instability of leadership is not necessarily a galvanizing force for employees,” Mayorkas said when addressing whether or not the stream of resignations of top officials has had an impact on national security.

What do you think about so many DHS top-level officials leaving the national security agency?

[Image via: The Glass Door]